Contributed by Vincent Deforte
With just two months remaining, the countdown to one of the summer’s most popular sporting events, the Little League Baseball World Series, began today with the announcement of the pairings and schedule by Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, at the annual luncheon.
The luncheon was webcast live to Little League’s District Administrators via the Internet on “Little League TV.” This was the first webcast of Little League TV.
The oldest of Little League’s eight World Series, this year’s tournament will be played Aug. 16-26 in South Williamsport, Pa., the site of youth baseball’s most watched event since 1959. The first 12 Little League Baseball World Series (1947-58) were played at Brown Memorial Park in Williamsport.
The 66th edition of the World Series (for 11-12-year-olds) this summer will utilize a modified format, a change adopted for the first time in 2011. Also, the teams will again be in either the U.S. side of the bracket or the International side as opposed to four four-team pools as in previous years.
Newberry (Williamsport, Pa.) Little Leaguer Kyle Caringi pulls the baseball of one of the 16 Little League Baseball World Series teams during the drawing to determine the pairing for the first eight games of the World Series. Kyle is joined by Tuck Frazier, who was a member of one of the first Little League teams in 1939.
A result of the modified format is four teams will be eliminated from advancing in the tournament by virtue of losing their first two games. Those four teams, two on each side of the bracket, will play televised “crossover” games – U.S. team vs. International team. This is the only time in the tournament, except the World Championship and consolation games, U.S and International teams oppose each other.
“We evaluate all aspects of the World Series each year which helps us continue to conduct a tournament that is both fan-friendly as well as one that gives the players their best opportunity to compete at a high level,” Mr. Keener said.
The 2012 World Series will be the sixth under an eight-year television contract with ESPN/ABC that provides for live coverage of each game. All 32 tournament games will be televised live by ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC.
Last year, ESPN and its family of networks expanded its coverage of the Little League Baseball International Tournaments and that will continue this summer. As they have every year since 1997, each of the U.S. regional finals will be televised by ESPN or ESPN2. In addition, the regional semifinals at seven sites will also be televised live on ESPN or ESPN2, as they have since 2010.
The New England Sports Network (NESN) will televise six games of the New England Region Tournament through the semifinal games from the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center in Bristol, Conn. In addition, the Longhorn Network will televise the 12 pool-play games of the Southwestern Region Tournament, in Waco, Texas, live for the first time.
In all, 66 games of the Little League Baseball International Tournament will be televised by the ESPN family of networks or ABC, which will air five games, including the International and U.S. Championship contests on Aug. 25 and the World Championship game the following day. ESPN will lead into the championship game, which will air at 3 p.m., with its popular Little League Baseball World Series “Webgems” show, followed by a pre-game show. That is scheduled to air at 1 p.m. All games will be televised in high definition.
All Little League Baseball World Series games played at Lamade Stadium this summer will also be available on ESPN 3D. A limited number of World Series games were televised last year on ESPN 3D for the first time.
“The Little League Baseball World Series has had a presence on television since the 1950s,” Mr. Keener said. “Each summer, our media partners at ESPN and ABC, afford Little League Baseball and Softball the opportunity to present our program to millions worldwide. To showcase the talent and ability of the players is wonderful, but equally significant is the opportunity to inform and educate TV viewers on what Little League has to offer local communities throughout the world.”
In addition, ESPN and its family of networks will air each of the other seven World Series championship games live, beginning with the Big League Baseball title game on Aug. 1. ESPN2 also will televise the semifinal games of the Little League Softball World Series on Aug. 14. ESPN and its family of networks will televise a total of 75 games of the Little League International Tournament.
The other seven Little League World Series dates and sites are: Big League Baseball (15-18-year-olds; Easley, S.C.; July 25-Aug. 1); Big League Softball (14-18-year-olds; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Aug. 1-8); Senior League Softball (13-16-year-olds; Lower Sussex, Del.; Aug. 5-11); Little League Softball (11-12-year-olds; Portland, Ore.; Aug. 9-15); Junior League Softball (12-14-year-olds; Kirkland, Wash.; Aug. 12-18); Junior League Baseball (12-14-year-olds; Taylor, Mich.; Aug. 12-18); and Senior League Baseball (13-16-year-olds; Bangor, Maine; Aug. 12-18).
All games of the 2012 Little League Baseball World Series will be broadcast by WRAK (1200 AM/1400 AM/94.9 FM) in Williamsport. WRAK is the flagship station for the English-speaking radio broadcasts of the Little League World Series. WRAK has broadcast Little League Baseball World Series games every year since the first World Series in 1947.
Ocean View Little League from Huntington Beach, Calif., captured the 2011 championship with a 2-1 win over Hamamatsu Little League from Hamamatsu City, Japan. A U.S. team has captured six of the last seven World Series titles. The representative from the West Region in the U.S. has captured the Little League Baseball World Series title three of the last four years, and has won four of the last seven championships. The West Region champion has been in the title game six of the last eight years.
In the first 65 years of the Little League Baseball World Series, there have been 32 International champions and 33 from the U.S.