WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. —has struggled to engage modern audiences from television ratings to ticket sales for several seasons. The have featured a series of experiments aimed at connecting with fans. At the Little League Classic, which began in 2017 as one of those experiments, a few dozen 12-year-olds were the loudest in the stadium. All 16 teams participating in this Little League Baseball World Series sat front row at the Classic in Williamsport, Pennsylvania’s Bowman Stadium. Cleveland shut out the Los Angeles Angels 3-0, feeding off the gaggle of excited preteens behind their dugout.
“The energy was there, not only for the game but also for motivation to keep safety nets. Several players tried to pass baseballs over the yields, which nearly hit passing spectators more than once. Starting pitcher Cal Quantrill joked that McKenzie had more fun with the Little Leaguers than he did to the field.– before the game and going forward,” said Amed Rosario, who hit the lone home run of the night. The pros bantered with the . Cleveland’s Triston McKenzie tossed pieces of bubblegum to them through the
“It’s always good to see them engaging with thethere,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. “I thought it was good for them, too. It kept their energy up. It kept them smiling. Interacting with the Little Leaguers put a smile on their face. They’re passionate and genuine, and it’s good to see.” Quantrill said he felt pressured to put on a good show for the Little League teams and showcase the pro audience. “It was almost more nerve-wracking throwing for a bunch of preteens than it is regularly,” he said. “I that it’s not that crazy, and they can probably do what we’re doing. We’re not much older than them … I cool dynamic.”
With the intense focus of competing in the Series turned off, the young players could let loose some child-like spirit – Tom’s River East, the team from New Jersey, spent several minutes bopping each other on the head with inflatable noisemaker sticks. The group also led a wave at the bottom of the fifth inning, spreading through all the clubs sitting with the bowl. Angels manager Joe Maddon said that embracing messy play and promoting a “playground” mentality in youth players is essential in building a passion for baseball among younger generations. “Maybe we need to put some critical thought into finding a safe place for kids just to play and enjoy it,” Maddon said. “Whatever it takes to draw them in and teach them the game.”
Maddon also commended the league’s other significant audience-building attempt thisthe Field of Dreams game, held over a week ago at the corn-laden site of the iconic 1989 baseball film. That game invoked nostalgia from older baseball fans and was a foil to the Little League Classic, showcasing the vitality of the sport’s . “The kids were into it with their little thunder sticks … I love that stuff,” Maddon said. “I want to congratulate MLB on the combination of Field of Dreams and this . We get to highlight our sport in perfect light.” Angels star and MVP favorite headlined the game despite the Angels’ loss. Per ESPN, several kids , and Sunday night, they watched him at bat from just a few feet away.
Ohtani played Little League baseball for Mizusawa in Oshu, Iwate Prefecture, Japan. Japan has its region in Little League baseball, and Japanese teams have won five of the last 10 Series titles. However, this year’s tournament is missing the presence of international Mike Trout were swarmed earlier Sunday at Lamade Stadium as the team greeted the Little Leaguers and signed autographs. “Just and even now watching it in the clubhouse, seeing the field in person is unbelievable,” Trout said. “Seeing the kids’ reactions is what it’s for. It’s probably dream to meet Major League Baseball players. MLB has done a great job combining both of these, and it was a great experience.”because of COVID-19 restrictions, so Ohtani’s appearance in the Classic gave his home nation someone to cheer for in Williamsport. Ohtani and teammate