Little League Baseball and Softball (officially, Little League Baseball, Incorporated) is a non-profit organization in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, United States which organizes local youth baseball and softball leagues throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Founded by Carl Stotz in 1939 as a three-team league in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Little League Baseball encourages local volunteers to organize and operate Little League programs that are annually chartered through Little League International. Each league can structure itself to best serve the children in the area in which the league operates. Several specific divisions of Little League baseball and softball are available to children ages 4 to 18. The organization holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.
The organization's administrative office is located in South Williamsport. The first Little League Baseball World Series was played in Williamsport in 1947. The Little League International Complex hosts the annual Little League Baseball World Series at Howard J. Lamade Stadium and Little League Volunteer Stadium, and is also the site of the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, which provides a history of Little League Baseball and Softball through interactive exhibits for children.
Carl Stotz, a resident of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, founded Little League Baseball in 1939. He began experimenting with his idea in the summer of 1938 when he gathered his nephews, Jimmy and Major Gehron and their neighborhood friends. They tried different field dimensions over the course of the summer and played several informal games. The following summer Stotz felt that he was ready to establish what later became Little League Baseball. The first league in Williamsport had just three teams, each sponsored by a different business. The first teams, Jumbo Pretzel, Lycoming Dairy, and Lundy Lumber were managed by Carl Stotz and two of his friends, George and Bert Bebble. The men, joined by their wives and another couple, formed the first-ever Little League Board of Directors. Stotz' dream of establishing a baseball league for boys to teach fair play and teamwork had come true.
The first League game took place on June 6, 1939. Lundy Lumber defeated Lycoming Dairy, 23-8. Lycoming Dairy came back to claim the league championship. They, the first-half-season champions, defeated Lundy Lumber, the second-half champs, in a best-of-three season-ending series. The following year a second league was formed in Williamsport, and from there Little League Baseball grew to become an international organization of nearly 200,000 teams in every U.S. state and over 80 countries around the world.