My jaw dropped when I saw the statistics on ESPN in the gym. Over 34,000 miles traveled by the eight international teams to get to the Little League World Series (LLWS). Question: The Little League World Series: How do the Boys Get There? Answer: Airplanes!
I recently returned from my fourth trip to the Little League World Series. Nestled in a long beautiful valley robed in deciduous trees, Williamsport, Pennsylvania plays host to some of the finest baseball viewed on the planet. Williamsport lies just about dead center of the Keystone State of Pennsylvania.
This year teams from Puerto Rico and Panama came. The Spaniards sent a squad (and it wasn’t a soccer team). Mexico sent a team north. Oh, Canada also sent a team (pun intended).
However, the teams that took the cake for distance traveled rim the Pacific. Seoul, South Korea qualified a team. The Koreans learned the game from American GI’s after the war. Not surprisingly, North Korea does not play baseball. Korea’s traditional rival in many respects, Japan, sent another strong team and this time it was not from Tokyo.
But the creme de la creme for travel came from the Gold Coast of Australia, Queensland. They traveled over 9,000 miles to get to Williamsport.
How does a team fly a big passenger jet into Williamsport? The answer is, they usually do not. The Williamsport Regional Airport has two runways, Runway 9/27 and Runway 12/30. Runway 9/27 is the primary runway and is 6,825 feet long. That is not long for major airport standards. However, it is categorized by the FFA as a Primary Service Commercial Airport due to it 10,000+ enplanements per year. See Doctor Aviation Session 10 for an explanation of airport categories and enplanements (https://doctoraviation.com/about/) .
Both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are a short flight from Williamsport so teams can fly larger aircraft into these cities and then a regional airplane into Williamsport. Although an occasional Boeing 757 and 737 do operate out of the airport. Obviously the two weeks at the end of August, during the LLWS, see some of the heaviest traffic.
So why have such a big tournament in a place that is not serviced by a major airport? The answer lies because Williamsport is where Little League baseball was founded by Carl Stotz in 1939. Carl went to over fifty businesses before he found three that would put up the $30 he needed to buy kids their uniforms. All of the labor for coaching and umpires was volunteer work.
While in Williamsport, Doctor Aviation and son were able to meet Al “Sonny” Yearick who played that first year of Little League baseball for Carl Stotz. Sonny went on to become the first Little Leaguer to ever play professional baseball.
The Little League games can be viewed on ESPN and ABC over the next week. See below for some of the sights you can see. Also check out more photos at Doctor Aviation’s Facebook page. Play ball! #LLWS https://www.facebook.com/pg/doctoraviation/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2193509890927041