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Drop the Mic

The announcement was not a surprise. Most folks were hoping against hope that it wouldn’t come. But Little League International President & CEO Steve Keener’s April 30 pronouncement that this year’s World Series and related regional tournaments would not be played will leave a huge void not only in our community but around the world.

The announcement was not a surprise. Most folks were hoping against hope that it wouldn’t come. But Little League International President & CEO Steve Keener’s April 30 pronouncement that this year’s World Series and related regional tournaments would not be played will leave a huge void not only in our community but around the world.

Among the throngs of the disappointed was the iHeartMedia World Series broadcast team that has had the privilege and enjoyment of being the radio voice of the Series since the days the tournament was played at the Original Field. Following the announcement, I reached out to my broadcasting teammates seeking their reaction.
Ken Sawyer

“The announcement by LLB was not a surprise as so many other events have been cancelled. It is still heartbreaking for so many here and around the world. Crossing events off the calendar has become the norm, and it leaves a void that cannot be filled by the emptiness that surrounds us. That said, LLB from the start has emphasized getting the regular season going for as many leagues as possible. That is really important. Getting local leagues playing can impact millions of children in a positive way, which is the real purpose of LLB and softball. Just think about how many children would love to have an outdoor activity right now.

“Initially, I thought the International teams were out when we first heard about COVID-19. My hope was we could still have a USA tournament, but as the cases increased, it was obvious that it would not work. Each state has its own rules. So, it would be too complicated to play regular-season games, then districts, sectionals, states, and regionals. Also, how many parents will need to work when they are allowed to and could not take time off to coach or umpire? We sometimes forget how much goes into baseball and softball before the teams arrive here. Plus, can you imagine the extra number of volunteers that might be needed to run a series with no fans?

“I am disappointed especially for the 12-year-olds and the other age groups of each division. Those are people whose dream ended with Little League’s announcement. I really feel bad for them and their families, friends, and coaches who have worked so hard. Personally, I will greatly miss seeing the many friends who meet at the LLBWS each year. Catching up with people is a major reason why I look forward to our coming together each year.”
Gary Chrisman

“It will be a different summer for all of us. We’ve been a team for a long time. The cancellation of the Series makes me think of Buck Byham, who I’m sure rolled around a few times up there in heaven. Buck lived for the World Series and would be very disappointed but understanding.

“Ken Sawyer gave me my first chance to do the Series on the radio in 1974 at the old WWPA. I had no idea then that I’d do every World Series since then, until now. Doing the World Series has made me appreciate the significance of the event that has gotten bigger and better over the years. The amazing thing about the Series is that it happens in my hometown. That gives me more pride than anything. When I came back to Williamsport after my days at the University of Miami, I didn’t know if it would be a planned brief stop, but the love of my hometown made it hard to ever leave.

“So here we are 46 years later. I’ve been a lucky guy all these years, especially broadcasting, nationally, the Little League World Series. From the first game, my grandfather took me to as we sat way up on the hill in 1959 through the hundreds of games that I’ve had the opportunity to call, the World Series has been something special. This summer, there will be something missing for all of us. I know one thing. It will make me appreciate the Little League World Series in my hometown that much more when we put the headsets on once again in 2021.”
Mike Fogarty

“This is a difficult situation for everyone. I hope it doesn’t derail LLB’s momentum. The Little League World Series has become one of the top sporting events of the summer. With this decision made, I’m sure the Headquarters staff has started to gear already, looking ahead to celebrate the Series’ 75th anniversary.”
Tom O’Malley

“The Little League World Series is one of the best sporting events all year! It is something I look forward to each and every year. It is disappointing that it was cancelled but understandable due to health concerns. It is heartbreaking for the Little League players that won’t get an opportunity to play in Williamsport. Little League is one of the best memories of your lifetime.

I look forward to a bigger and better World Series in 2021. Being the first time the World Series has been cancelled since its inception in 1947, there will be a void in August this year for sure. I hope that everyone puts the Series on their bucket list for 2021.”
Tom Speicher

“The decision to cancel the Little League World Series felt inevitable since early April, but reading the announcement still proved to be painful. There was part of me thinking a miracle could occur and that the 2020 Series could be played, signaling a return to some degree of normalcy. But obviously, Little League made the responsible and correct decision.

“This would have been my 23rd year working the Series as the ‘Man in the Crowd.’ It’s hard to imagine late August without climbing the hills and stands of Lamade Stadium digging for stories and conducting interviews. I’ll miss connecting with old friends and making new ones, laughing with my broadcast colleagues, sliding down the hill live on the radio, and seeing countless smiles for a week and a half. So, on a personal level, I feel bad.

“But I feel much worse for others. This would have been Ken Sawyer’s 50th year covering the Series. Hopefully, he’ll be able to mark that milestone in 2021 and receive the recognition he richly deserved this year. I wish that local business owners who rely on the economic boost provided by the Series can withstand the cancellation of the event and be on sound financial footing for the future. Most of all, I pray that all Little Leaguers whose hopes of playing in Williamsport were permanently dashed don’t lose their love for the game and the courage to dream.”

Indeed, the mic’s been dropped on the 2020 Little League World Series but definitely not the way we had planned. Our broadcast crew looks forward to picking up that same mic again next year!

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