Even those with only a passing interest in baseball will be intrigued by this fascinating look at Little League, “the largest amateur sports organization in the world.” The book and its unsparing look at the harsh reality of youth sports just might pique the interest of parents whose kids play in the more than 8,000 officially sanctioned League teams. Utilizing extensive interviews with current and former players and coaches and a no-frills sports writing style that captures both the excitement and the nuances of the game, Euchner (Last Nine Innings) follows teams ranging from Hawaii to Florida who competed in the 10-day 2005 Little League World Series. Throughout his exhaustive coverage, he rarely loses sight of the League’s main problem, “the professionalism of childhood, the development of leagues and tournaments that turn sports into a fulltime job before a kid grows any facial hair.” Euchner succeeds at presenting the impressive intensity of 12-year-old athletes while also showing the sad fact that young pitchers who could be Major League stars “never make it because they blow their arms out in Little League.” (Aug.)
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In The Last Nine Innings (2005), Euchner put major league baseball under an analytic microscope; here, he dissects Little League. The setting is the 2005 Little League World Series, which turned out to be a real nail-biter and one of the most exciting series the small town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, has ever seen. Although Euchner admits that Little League has done good things for kids and baseball, his overarching argument here is that kids were better off with street pickup games than the overly organized, overly competitive world of formal Little League. Moreover, he contends that the sport has become too focused on adults: it’s the adults who crave the championships, who push kids beyond their physical capabilities, who take the fun out of the game. He gives coaches (and parents) their due–the sacrifice of time and money, after all, is mighty–but he challenges us to consider what the world would be like if all that energy were put into more altruistic endeavors, such as rebuilding the Gulf coast. “Give the game back to the kids,” Euchner pleads. Adults, take heed. Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved
Little League baseball has come a long way. Organized into leagues and tournaments, today its big business, a global entity in over a hundred countries. And every year in modest Williamsport, Pennsylvania, it all comes down to 16 teams of kids eying the ultimate prize: the Little League World Series.
The 2005 World Series featured Little League’s greatest ending on its biggest stage. Now seen in over five million homes, the thrilling final game of the Series was the most dramatic in the fifty-eight year history of the Little League. With full access to the players, coaches and parents associated with both teams who played in that game, Charles Euchner delivers an astonishing and dramatic narrative that delves into every aspect of the teams involved: from training, coaching and parenting stressed out kids to politics, controversy and the ever expanding role of corporations.
Welcome to the hype, the hope and the soul of youth baseball.
Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball
Do you know that George W. was a Little Leaguer? More to the point, humorist Dave Barry is also a graduate of Little League, and he writes an amusing introduction to a solid book about this American institution. Little League has now been around for more than half a century, and this new history fills a gap in library collections that often focus solely on major league baseball history. This well-illustrated, popularly written account should be on the shelves of every library that serves a community with a Little League team.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The remarkable story of Little League Baseball, from the first diamond in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to the playing fields of Venezuela, Japan, and Poland.
“Its funny: after 40 years, I cant remember much else about a lot of the boys I grew up with, but if you give me one of their names, I can usually remember what Little League team he played on.”
On any given spring evening, 360,000 children around the world can be found on the dusty mounds and grassy fields of a Little League field. With more than four million people playing or volunteering in Little League games every year, Little League is the institutional rite of passage into the quintessential American pastime.
Little League Baseball began in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1938, when Carl Stotz, an oil company clerk, agreed to a game of catch with his young nephews-who were too young to play organized baseball. He recalled how it felt to be left out, and promised to think of a way for the boys to have a league of their own. With the help of neighbors George and Bert Bebble, Stotz created a three-team league. After being turned down by fifty-six businesses, Carl finally convinced a lumber company, a dairy, and a pretzel maker to sponsor the teams, for $30 each. On June 6, 1939, the first Little League Baseball game was played at Park Point in Williamsport.
Play Ball! charts Little Leagues history from the earliest days and shows how, in many respects, its history parallels Americas history: isolation in the beginning; rapid expansion; a civil war of sorts, followed by reconstruction; struggles over civil rights and gender equity; and foreign entanglements. A microcosm of American society, Little League reflects, and is affected by, cultural, political and historical trends. Today, Little League is played on 12,000 fields in every U.S. state and in 103 other countries on six continents. Little League also sanctions play in softball, Tee Ball, and baseball for disabled children-called the Challenger Division. The Little League Baseball World Series, played annually in Williamsport, is watched by crowds of 40,000 each year in person, and by more than ten million on ABCs Wide World of Sports.
The authors were given full access to the Little League Baseball archives and have created a fully illustrated and comprehensive history. Play Ball! contains appendixes including winners of all Little League Baseball and Softball World Series, a year-by-year history of Little League, countries in Little League, and lists of some of the famous people who played the game as children, including Kevin Costner, Mark McGwire, and George W. Bush.
Play Ball! will interest parents, former players and coaches, fans of Little League Baseball, general baseball enthusiasts, and anyone who has ever picked up a ball and bat.