Little League® Volunteer Stadium: Field of Opportunity
It had been nearly 65 years since the first pitch was thrown at Howard J. Lamade Stadium, christening what is now a “Field of Dreams” for countless Little Leaguers®, but when the call to “Play ball!” was first heard on the field at Volunteer Stadium in 2001, the Little League program rode its charge into the next century.
In the late 1990s, the Little League International Board of Directors voted to expand the Little League Baseball® World Series, doubling the tournament from eight to 16 teams. In preparation for the tournament’s first expansion since its inception, it was necessary to expand its facilities on the ground. The centerpiece of a multi-year fundraising campaign, plans have come together to develop a hall and a second World Series stadium using the green space north of the iconic Lamade Stadium.
Various improvements were implemented at the Little League International Complex in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The as-yet-unnamed second stadium, with 5,000 seats, was designed to have the dimensions that define Little League Baseball – 60-foot base paths and a 46-foot pitching distance at home plate. .
As construction drew to a close, it was time to give the stadium a name. Different from Lamade Stadium, where it was only fitting to recognize the person primarily responsible for securing the Little League building ground, this appointment would become a symbolic gesture and an ode to the cornerstone of the Little League program – volunteers. And, in the summer of 2001, the Little League Volunteer Stadium came into being.
What makes Volunteer Stadium different and unique from Lamade Stadium are its features, designed with safety and accessibility in mind.
The stadium is constructed of concrete and steel. The roof covers the individual seats in the stands and a net is installed from the facade to the top of the metal fence, making it difficult for a batted ball to reach the spectators.
Beneath the stadium, and out of sight of spectators, are a set of batting cages and bullpen areas for pitchers to pitch before entering the game, as well as an athletic training treatment room a few step from the playing surface.
Built with spacious ground-level dugouts located more than 30 feet from the baselines and several feet from first and third bases, the Volunteer Stadium provides easy access for players, coaches, umpires and staff to get to the surface. of game.
With its construction in 2001, Volunteer Stadium also became home to the annual Little League Challenger Division® Expo Game, a game that showcases the opportunities the Little League Challenger Division provides to more than 30,000 children with physical and intellectuals in more than 900 leagues around the world. Additionally, the stadium also hosts the opening ceremonies for the Little League Baseball World Series each August.
Beyond the physical structure, Volunteer Stadium embodies Little League ideals of teamwork, sportsmanship, community spirit and, most importantly, provides children with the opportunity to experience what makes Little League special in neighborhoods around the world.
REMARK: As the world prepares to celebrate the 75e Anniversary of the Little League Baseball® World Series (LLBWS) in August 2022, Little League® International will feature content like this in a series of franchises that highlights some of the key moments, memories and people who made the LLBWS one of the most iconic sporting events in the world. For more information, visit LittleLeague.org/75.