Little League also promotes the Original League field on the other side of the river as the birthplace of youth baseball. "Team uncles," the volunteer hosts who serve as player guides and chaperones during the tournament, sometimes take series participants there for a tour on off days. "Since Keener came on, there's been a change," says AL Yearick, 75, a catcher in Stotz's first league in 1939. "He wasn't born when the rift happened. He's leading them in a direction that's more in line with what Carl thought."
This year the European champion, a team from Moscow that is representing the region for the third year in a row, arrived in Williamsport two weeks before the tournament began. By the eve of the team's opening game last Saturday, the Russian manager, Vladimir Eltchaninov, was dealing with a bunch of restless kids. "They are anxious to play games," said Eltchaninov. ( Russia played well but lost to Mexico 2-1.) Twelve-year-old pitcher Kiril Starodubov explained, however, that the team members' desire to play had little to do with the quest for Moscow's first series victory. "We want ice cream," he said through an interpreter. "There is free ice cream in the dining hall, but our coaches say we cannot have any until all our games are finished." In Williamsport, the kids know what's important.