The Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox are the next teams up to head to Williamsport, Pa. to play in the 2022 “MLB Little League Classic presented by GEICO,” as announced today by Major League Baseball (MLB) and Little League International. The game, which will be held on Sunday, August 21st and serve as a home game for Baltimore, will air nationally that evening exclusively on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” at 7:00 p.m. (ET). The special event connected to the Little League Baseball World Series also will be available on ESPN Radio, the ESPN App and ESPN Deportes. The two Clubs were originally slated for the 2020 Little League Classic, but that event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are thrilled to have been selected to participate in the Little League Classic next year,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager. “Our players and staff were very much looking forward to spending time with the next generation of players and fans at the 2020 event prior to its cancellation, so to have the opportunity to compete against the Red Sox next season at Historic Bowman Field while supporting the Commissioner’s efforts to grow the game is a tremendous honor for our Club.”
“We are excited to take part in one of MLB's latest traditions that directly connects Major League players with the game’s next generation of potential stars,” said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. “Playing the Orioles at Historic Bowman Field is an honor and we are looking forward to deepening the connection between today's youth and America's pastime.”
As is tradition for this annual occasion, Major Leaguers on the Orioles and Red Sox will attend Little League World Series games earlier in the day on August 21st, demonstrating their commitment to helping grow the game at the youth level and engage with young fans. Later that evening, Little League World Series players and their families will fill Historic Bowman Field for the Little League Classic game, which is part of the “GEICO Summer Series.”
Participation in baseball at the youth level continues to have significant growth, according to a prominent, independent source that collects data on youth sports participation. In early 2021, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) announced their Topline Participation Report for 2020 for individual and team sports played in the United States. Despite the pandemic severely affecting formal leagues, casual participation in baseball grew by +22%. Overall, casual participation in baseball has increased by +90% since the launch of PLAY BALL in 2015. Also according to SFIA, baseball and softball combined to rank as the most participated team sports in the United States in four of the last five years.
The Little League Classic was launched at the renovated Historic Bowman Field in August 2017. The Pittsburgh Pirates hosted the St. Louis Cardinals in that inaugural event and were followed by the Philadelphia Phillies hosting the New York Mets in 2018, the Pirates returning to face the Chicago Cubs in 2019, and the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles competing in this year’s iteration.
Historic Bowman Field, in which Major League Baseball and the State of Pennsylvania invested a multi-million-dollar renovation prior to the 2017 MLB Little League Classic, opened in 1926. More than 560 Major Leaguers, including Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Bill Mazeroski, Jim Rice and Jim Bunning, have worn a professional baseball uniform for Williamsport.
The Little League Baseball® World Series is an international championship tournament for children, ages 10-12, held annually in Williamsport, the headquarters for Little League International. Traditionally, countries from around the world compete on a global stage each year, with games airing on ESPN and streamed via the ESPN App. Due to the pandemic, the 2021 Little League World Series featured only U.S. domestic teams.