BOSTON -- As a former Little League player and advocate for using Major League Baseball's platform to grow the game, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak was one of the first within the organization to embrace the idea of having the Redbirds play in a game tied to the
BOSTON -- As a former Little League player and advocate for using Major League Baseball's platform to grow the game, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak was one of the first within the organization to embrace the idea of having the Redbirds play in a game tied to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
It's an idea that was first brought to Mozeliak by Pirates president Frank Coonelly late last year and one that served as the foundation for what will be Sunday's Little League Classic between the two National League Central teams. They'll play at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field (6 p.m. CT) to cap a day that will also include visits with teams participating in the Little League World Series.
Two of those teams will greet the Redbirds at the airport when the team's flight arrives just before noon ET on Sunday. Cardinals principal owner Bill DeWitt is scheduled to join the club in Williamsport for the day, too.
"Any time you're trying to promote the game, we need to be doing [things like this] as an industry, especially when you're looking at the younger demographic," Mozeliak said. "For us, we were very much on board with that. In the end, I think it should be one of those things that should be kind of exciting. It's definitely different. I'm sure there are going to be some small inconveniences that we normally don't experience, but I also feel like there's going to be an excitement and an energy."
Perhaps the most unique aspect of this game is that it will be played in a Minor League ballpark with a capacity of 2,366. Almost all of those seats will be filled with Little League players and their families.
"When you think about Little League, everybody has some memory of it," Mozeliak said. "And for a lot of players that end up in the big leagues, that's where it all began. To have an environment where 90 percent of the fans at the ballpark that night are people participating in the actual event should make for a very special evening. There's still a baseball game to be played, and none of us should lose focus on that. But I do think it's a very unique opportunity for Major League Baseball to touch younger players and younger fans. And hopefully, that's everyone's takeaway."
Before he broke in as a Rockies batting practice pitcher and worked his way to being named the Cardinals' general manager in 2007, Mozeliak was a member of the South Boulder Little League program in Colorado. He split time at catcher, first base and pitcher before going on to play at the high school level.
"I always just remember putting on that uniform and having pride in that," Mozeliak said. "I loved playing the game of baseball, and that was our entry into it. I think back on the field we played on, my friends, it's something that, as you can see, just puts a smile on my face. Good memories."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.