After the success it saw last year for its Independence Day weekend game at a specially constructed field on the military base at Fort Bragg, N.C., MLB on Thursday announced another one-off game. This version, the “MLB Little League Classic,” will feature the Pirates and Cardinals facing off in BB&T Ballpark in Williamsport, Pa., normally the home of the Phillies’ short-season affiliate in the New York-Penn League. The game will be played on Aug. 20, while the Little League World Series is going on at nearby Lamade Stadium.
"Major League Baseball's greatest responsibility is to ensure that today's youth become active participants in our game as players and fans. The 'MLB Little League Classic' exemplifies our entire sport's commitment to building a stronger connection between young people and the National Pastime,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a release announcing the event. “Our players will honor the great tradition of the Little League World Series and create lifelong memories for the Little Leaguers, their families and the city of Williamsport. I thank the Pirates and the Cardinals, Little League Baseball, Governor Wolf, the Crosscutters, the City of Williamsport, and ESPN for helping us organize an unforgettable weekend."
The game will be featured on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, and will be broadcast by Dan Shulman, Jessica Mendoza, Aaron Boone and Tim Kurkjian. The game will also be available on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, and MLB Network will also have coverage. The game is part of MLB’s effort to get more and more children interested in and involved with the game at a younger age.
"The MLBPA and the Players on the Cardinals and Pirates are looking forward to taking part in the Little League Classic. We look at this event as an opportunity for the baseball community to join forces in celebrating the benefits of playing our great game,” Tony Clark, the head of the Players Union, said. “Participating in youth baseball provides our children with valuable lessons that will last a lifetime, and Major Leaguers possess the power to deliver an important message to all: Through hard work and perseverance dreams can come true."
There are several current major leaguers who also played in the Little League World Series. The Mets’ Michael Conforto, the White Sox’s Todd Frazier, the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn and Randal Grichuk, the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar, the Blue Jays’ Devon Travis and the Orioles’ Jonathan Schoop are just a few of that group. As part of the event, members of the Pirates and Cardinals will host Little Leaguers during the day of the game before taking the field at night.
"We continue to work closely with our friends at Major League Baseball to find new and exciting ways to engage more children around the world with our great game. We look forward to welcoming the Pirates and the Cardinals to Williamsport during the Little League Baseball World Series this summer,” Little League president and CEO Stephen Keener said. “We are extremely grateful to Commissioner Manfred, the Pirates and Cardinals, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and state Senator Gene Yaw for their support of this exciting, new initiative, and we look forward to a fun and memorable MLB Little League Classic."