Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball

By Lance and Robin Van Auken

Play Ball! The Story of Little League® Baseball is the remarkable story of Little League® Baseball, from the first diamond in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to the playing fields of the world.

Little League’s history is told with great detail at the World of Little League Museum, but if you can’t visit the site in person, learn more about Little League and its humble beginnings in Williamsport, in “Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball” by Lance and Robin Van Auken, and available through The Omnibus Publishing company.

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 three million people playing or volunteering in Little League games every year, Little League is the institutional rite of passage into the quintessential American pastime.

“Play Ball!” charts Little League’s history from the earliest days and shows how, in many respects, its history parallels America’s 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 02,000 fields in every U.S. state and in more than 80 countries on six continents. Little League also sanctions play in softball, tee ball, and the Challenger Division for disabled children. 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 ABC’s ESPN.

An original jersey worn by a Lycoming Dairy player, the first Little League Baseball team.

An original jersey worn by a Lycoming Dairy player, the first Little League Baseball team.

The authors were given full access to the Little League® Baseball archives and have created a comprehensive history. In addition to a foreword by Pulitzer-Prize winner Dave Barry, Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball contains appendixes including winners of all Little League® Baseball and Softball World Series, 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, Bruce Springsteen, 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.

About the Authors

Lance Van Auken oversees the day-to-day operations of the World of Little League Museum, a 22,000-square foot newly renovated facility dedicated to preserving the history of the world’s largest organized youth sports program, and to provide a key educational asset to the children and families of Central Pennsylvania and visitors from around the world.

Robin Van Auken is an instructor, teaching communications and archaeology at Lycoming College. She has authored and co-authored nearly a dozen books of local and regional history, including “Play Ball! The Story of Little League® Baseball” with her husband, Lance Van Auken.


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