Little League baseball has been around since the 1930s, when an oil company clerk helped start a neighborhood league for his nephews and their friends. Under the supervision of Carl Stotz, the first Little League game was played June 6, 1939. By 1946, the program had expanded to 12 leagues across the state of Pennsylvania, and the first program outside the founding state was started a year later in New Jersey.
Within only a few years, Little League expanded across the nation, and the first Little Leagues outside the 48 states began in 1950 in Hawaii, Panama and Canada.
The year of 1947 also claimed the first Little League World Series (then called the National Little League Tournament), which was won by Williamsport's Maynard Midgets. For the first decade of the World Series, only teams from the United States participated. In the 1960s, the tournament expanded to include a full international slate of teams, which quickly began to dominate the event. Between 1967 and 1974, teams from the Far East won seven of the eight Little League World Series played, leading the event to limit participation to just U.S. teams in 1975. This restriction was removed after just one year.
In 1953, the World Series was televised for the first time by CBS. ABC took over the rights in 1960, eventually passing the broadcast on to ESPN in 2007, when the network signed an eight-year contract.
Little League has become the world's largest organized youth sports program. The program currently involves nearly 180,000 teams across the world, and more than 35 million people are believed to have played or volunteered for a Little League program.
In 2010, Little League International expanded video replay at the tournament. In previous years, replay had been used only when plays should have resulted in a dead ball but did not. Starting in 2010, force-outs, tags on the basepaths, missed bases and hit batters all were subject to video replay.