Baseball

Little League World Series cancelled for 1st time due to COVID-19 pandemic

Vowing to return next summer, this year's Little League World Series was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. All seven World Series tournaments and their respective regional qualifying events are off this summer.

Annual event had been ongoing since 1947 in Williamsport, Penn.

Hawaii starting pitcher Ka'olu Holt is seen above during the 2018 Little League World Series championship game. On Thursday, Little League announced the 2020 version would be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

This year's Little League World Series and the championship tournaments in six other Little League divisions have been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Little League President Stephen Keener announced the cancellations in a Facebook Live broadcast Thursday afternoon from league headquarters in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, saying it would be "impossible" to hold the events amid ongoing restrictions on large gatherings and travel.

The Little League World Series has been held every August since 1947 and had never been cancelled before. Next year was to be the 75th playing of the tournament; that milestone has been pushed back to 2022.

"Let me tell the folks in all those communities and all the sites where we have regional qualifying tournaments how disappointed we are to have to do this, but it was inevitable," Keener said. "It would be irresponsible and impossible to bring teams and thousands of people from all over the world into the community of Williamsport as well as those six other communities that have been such great friends and supporters of ours over the years."

He added that travel restrictions would make it equally impossible to hold qualifying tournaments for international teams and to bring those teams safely to the United States.

Little League has not, however, called off the 2020 regular season. Keener said there was reason for optimism that teams could play this spring and summer, depending on restrictions in states and localities.

Season on hold until mid-May

The annual major league game in Williamsport, which this year was to feature the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 23, has been cancelled, MLB said.

"While the cancellation of the 2020 Little League World Series is extremely disappointing, the health and safety of all of the people involved must be the paramount consideration. We look forward to our return to Williamsport for the 2021 MLB Little League Classic," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

Little League announced in March that the season was on hold until at least May 11 because of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention against gatherings of 50 people or more.

After that date, Keener said, districts and leagues should look to states and localities for guidance on when or if the season can resume. He also urged districts to hold all-star tournaments to give kids at least a taste of the competition they'll be missing missing with World Series qualifying scrapped.

"We will be very amenable to [changing] eligibility requirements and be very flexible to allow as many kids the opportunity to play as possible for whatever can remain of the 2020 Little League season," he said.

Along with the Little League World Series, which is held in South Williamsport, the other events cancelled were the World Series of Little League Softball in Greenville, North Carolina; Junior League Baseball in Taylor, Michigan; Junior League Softball in Kirkland, Washington; Senior League Baseball in Easley, South Carolina; and Senior League Softball in Sussex County, Delaware.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now