Pennsylvania’s love of baseball has been longstanding; the Keystone state has hosted the Little League Baseball World Series since 1947. Because the league itself celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2014, it’s a good time to reflect on the organization’s impact: what started as a group of 30 children playing baseball in Williamsport has grown to 2.4 million boys and girls playing Little League Baseball and Softball in 83 countries. Today, baseball fans from around the globe make pilgrimages to Pennsylvania for a chance to witness history, when the best young players in the world compete to take their place in the baseball record books.
In 2015, the series takes place July 28–Aug. 30 in South Williamsport. You can catch the fever yourself by attending a few of the games (tournament seating in the stands is first-come, first-served) and checking out the exhibits at the World of Little League Museum & Official Store. Warning: Those with fond Little League memories are guaranteed to get a bit misty eyed amid the artifacts, history and interactive activities in the newly renovated museum. More info: Lycoming County Visitors Bureau
Baseball fun has spread to the rest of the state as well. Here are a few other ways to get in the spirit of the boys and girls of summer:
• Berks Vintage Baseball Festival: June 27–28, 2015, in Bern Township, PA (Berks County; Go Greater Reading)
This first-annual fest showcases the evolution of baseball with games by throwback teams representing the 1860s–1880s. Get an in-person lesson about how the rules of the game have changed. Period-era clothing is recommended for all who come out to celebrate the game’s early days. The festival is just one of several tournaments hosted by Big Vision Foundation from June through October.
• The Little League Baseball Pennsylvania State Tournament: July, in Skippack, PA (Montgomery County; Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board)
Eight teams from eight districts across Pennsylvania compete, drawing 800–1,000 attendees each day to watch teams on the road to Williamsport.
• Christy Mathewson Days: Sept. 26, 2015, in Factoryville, PA (Lackawanna County; Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau)
Venture east from Williamsport to the hometown of baseball legend Christy Mathewson, one of the first five baseball players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson. The festival honors the athlete and his place in baseball history with a 6K run/walk, parade, music, games, raffles and more.
• Baseball Bat Factories
At BWP Bats in Brookville, PA (Jefferson County, PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau), learn how this boutique bat manufacturer turns hard maple, ash and red oak into 35,000 bats a year, used by everyone from major leaguers to little ones. Or get behind the scenes at Chandler Bats in Norristown, PA (Montgomery County), which makes custom bats from locally sourced maple trees for top Major Leaguers. To get a bat that fits your swing, schedule a bat fitting with the swing analysts at Lehigh Valley Bat Works in Bethlehem (Lehigh and Northampton counties; Discover Lehigh Valley).