Little League International Board of Directors said it will "be back stronger than ever in 2021"

By Benjamin VanHoose
May 01, 2020 09:11 AM
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The Little League World Series on August 25, 2019, in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
| Credit: Rob Carr/Getty

The Little League World Series is benching its 2020 tournament.

On Thursday, organizers of the annual youth baseball competition announced that due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this year's World Series event would be officially canceled. Little League called the decision "disappointing" and "difficult," as it marked the first time it's been canceled since it was formed in 1947.

“Delivering this news comes with a very heavy heart. We have never had to cancel our World Series tournaments, but, right now, as our world comes together, we must do everything we can to help stem the spread of this deadly virus,” said Hugh E. Tanner, Little League International Board of Directors chairman, in a recent statement.

"While we take this pause from the World Series and Regional Tournaments this summer," Tanner continued. "We are committed to working with our volunteers and staff to continue to provide an unparalleled youth sports experience to all children and be back stronger than ever in 2021."

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The league cited travel restrictions as well as social distancing orders in different regions that would prevent teams from playing qualifying games and becoming eligible in the tournament.

Little League Baseball was to be held in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania; Little League Softball in Greenville, North Carolina; with other Little League World Series events in California, Michigan, Washington, South Carolina and Delaware.

Next year was intended to be the 75th annual Little League World Series event, but with the 2020 cancelation, that feat will now be achieved in 2022, given the tournament resumes as planned in 2021.

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The 2020 MLB Little League Classic, intended for August 23 between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, has also been canceled.

“This is a heartbreaking decision for everyone at Little League International, but more so for those millions of Little Leaguers who have dreamt of one day playing in one of our seven World Series events,” Stephen D. Keener, president and CEO of Little League, added in the Little League statement.

Keener continued: "After exhausting all possible options, we came to the conclusion that because of the significant public health uncertainty that will still exist several months from now, and with direction from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, as well as senior public health officials and government leaders from locations where our other six World Series are held, as well as their qualifying regional tournaments, it will not be possible to proceed with our tournaments as we’ve hosted them for nearly 75 years."

Little League also committed to donating $1.2 million to support local leagues affected by the pandemic.

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