The 66th Little League World Series kicks off today in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Teams from across the globe will take the big stage in this 10-day tournament that showcases the best young baseball players in the world. Here are three reasons why the Little League World Series is one the coolest events on the summer.
History Will Be Made
For the first time in Little League World Series history a team from Africa will play in the tournament. A squad from Lugazi, Uganda will represent the Middle East and Africa. (Last year another team from Uganda also qualified, but they were denied entry into the U.S. because of paperwork issues.) The game of baseball didn’t come to the landlocked nation of Uganda until the late 1980s, and teams often have a tough time getting equipment. You can bet that the world will be rooting for the underdogs when they play their first game against Panama on August 17.
The team from Petaluma, California, has already gotten the attention of major league clubs. The Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants have donated money to support the team’s cross-country trip. And A’s outfielder Jonny Gomes has played a major role in raising funds. Besides giving his own donations of money and equipment, he’s also sending an autograph to anyone else who donates. "If I was lucky enough to go to Williamsport when I was 12, there would be no chance my family would have been able to go on their own dollar, and how bummed out I would be about that,” Gomes told the San Jose Mercury News.
Stars of Tomorrow
The Little League World Series has been a lunching pad for professional athletes for decades. Among the greats who have played in the LLWS: Wade Boggs, George Brett, Nolan Ryan, and Carl Yastremski. Former Boston Red Sox captain Jason Varitek will be honored at this year’s tournament. Varitek led his team from Altamonte Springs, Florida, to the 1984 LLWS final. He is one of two players to have played in the Little League World Series, the College World Series, and the Major League World Series.