Major League Baseball is coming to the home of the Little League World Series.
Sunday night, MLB will play its first game in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, as part of the first ever MLB Little League Classic. The St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates will meet at the renovated BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field.
Here’s how you can watch this year’s MLB Little League Classic:
Date: Sunday, August 20
Start time: 7:00 p.m. ET
The MLB Little League Classic will be featured as ESPN’s weekly Sunday Night Baseball game. The game will be the series finale of a four-game set between the Pirates and Cardinals. The first three games were played at PNC Park, and the Pirates will be the home team for the MLB Little League Classic.
Here are five more things to know about the game.
No, they’re not playing with Little League dimensions
BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field is a minor league ballpark in Williamsport and home of the Williamsport Crosscutters, currently a lower level affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. They were once a Pirates affiliate. The Pennsylvania College of Technology also plays their home games at the ballpark.
Over the last few weeks BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field has been renovated to conform to MLB’s standards. The outfield dimensions are now 331 feet to right field, 411 feet to center field, and 323 to left field. It was 351-408-341 from right to left before the renovations.
MLB and Little League International have a new partnership
The MLB Little League Classic is part of a new partnership between MLB and Little League International that will “continue fostering interest and encouraging participation in youth-centered baseball and softball activities.”
Here are more details on the partnership:
MLB has been working hard to generate interest and cultivate young fans for years now, and their new partnership with Little League International is part of that process. Anything the league can do to attract children is a positive in my book.
The Pirates and Cardinals will wear Players Weekend uniforms
MLB is holding the (first annual?) Players Weekend next week, August 25-27, during which teams will wear special uniforms and players will wear nicknames on their jerseys. Each player’s jersey will also include a patch with the name of someone who helped them reach the big leagues.
During the MLB Little League Classic on Sunday, the Pirates and Cardinals will both wear their Players Weekend uniforms, complete with player nicknames on the back. Here are uniforms each team will wear Sunday:
All of the game-worn Players Weekend uniforms and equipment will be auctioned off with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation.
Several players are returning to Williamsport
Several Pirates and Cardinals players have played in Williamsport in the past. Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk played in both the 2003 and 2004 Little League World Series with his Texas team, while Cardinals righty Lance Lynnplayed in the 1999 Little League World Series with his team from Indiana.
Several players have ties to Williamsport without playing in the Little League World Series. Andrew McCutchen suited up for the Williamsport Crosscutters after being drafted in 2005, back when they were a Pirates minor league affiliate. He hit .346 with more walks (eight) than strikeouts (six) in 13 games with Williamsport that summer. Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer started his professional career with the Crosscutters as well.
And finally, among those participating in the MLB Little League Classic on Sunday, the single biggest connection to Williamsport belongs to Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. According to MLB’s press release, he met his wife Karla while managing the now defunct Williamsport Bills franchise in 1991. This trip must be really special for him.
Williamsport has produced many MLB players
The home of the Little League World Series has produced several MLB players over the years, most notably Mike Mussina. Mussina, who won 270 games during his 18-year career, still lives in Williamsport and makes appearances at the Little League World Series each year. Mussina will be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the fifth time this winter and his support has gradually increased from 20.3 percent in 2014 to 51.8 percent in 2017.
Here, per MLB’s release, are the current and former big leaguers from Williamsport and the years of their MLB tenure:
- Butch Alberts (1978)
- Fred Applegate (1904)
- Pat Daneker (1999)
- Kris Keller (2002)
- Frank Lobert (1914)
- Johnny Lush (1904-10)
- Don Manno (1940-41)
- Jacob May (2017)
- Jamie McAndrew (1995-97)
- Mike Mussina (1991-2008)
- Jason Phillips (1999-2003)
- John Sullivan (1920-21)
- Dick Welteroth (1948-50)
- Weldon Wyckoff (1913-18)
Given MLB’s new partnership with Little League International and their continued efforts to promote the game to young fans, chances are many more big league ballplayers will come out of Williamsport in the future.
Source: Mike Axisa, CBS Sports