Early Junior League World Series
In 1981, the first year of the Junior League World Series, only the four regional championship teams from the United States made the journey to Taylor. Boardman, Ohio, won the first Junior League world championship, besting teams from Richmond, Virginia; Gloucester County, New Jersey; and Bassett, California. Since Boardman’s world title, no other Central Region champion has won the World Series.
Since then, world championship teams have come from Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, California, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Panama, Curacao, and Chinese Taipei – which entered a team for the first time in 2010, and won the Junior League title that year and again in 2013.
Tampa became the first team from Florida to win the World Series in 1982, the year Puerto Rico joined the World Series as the fifth regional representative. Puerto Rico became world champion the next year. The 1983 series was called “the year of the home run” because of the record-breaking number of four-baggers. The fences were moved to 250 feet in left and right fields and 285 in center field.
In 1984, Pearl City became the first Junior League world champion from Hawaii. The next year, 1985, Florida became the first state to win two world championships. A team from Michigan joined the series as a seeded entry that year and would play every year through the rest of the decade. Lights were installed in 1985 and night games debuted. Outfield fences were extended to 270 feet in left, 275 in right and 310 in center.
In 1986, Mexico joined the series for the first time. Bill DeAtley helped Maryland to the championship, though, by pitching the first no-hitter of the series. In 1987, Jenny Hall of the Taylor Northwest Little League became the first girl to play in the event. That year, Rowland Heights became the first team from California to win the JLWS.