From Kutno to Williamsport

You really have to see a baseball game live to understand it. Television doesn't give you a real idea of what's going on if you haven't seen a game in the flesh before. The ball is hit by the batter and the outfielders run to try to catch it. When the batter is facing the pitcher, the action takes place in a split second. Either the batter misses or doesn't attempt to hit the ball, or there is a sudden burst of activity as he hits the ball and sends it into the field, or even out of the field entirely for a home run!

The legendary Polish-American baseball player Stan "the Man" Musial opened the Stan Musial Little League Training Center in Kutno on August 5th, 2000. The center in Kutno has several practice fields, and in phase three of the project dormitories for Little Leaguers to stay in for extended periods of training will be built. It will be the center of Little League baseball training in Europe, Asia and Africa, and home to the European Champion..ships. The winners of the European Championships go on to the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The Little League field was named after Edward Piszek and the Junior League field after Musial. At the opening ceremony the first pitch was officially thrown on the field by Musial, and that morning at Kutno City Hall, Musial and Edward Piszek received honorary citizenship of the city. Each of them was given a Polish saber, more impressive, perhaps, than the Key to the City given in similar ceremonies in America!

Teams from twenty different countries took part in the finals, including Austria, England, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia and Ukraine. The teams from Western Europe and Saudi Arabia were mainly made up of American expatriate boys, while the Eastern European teams were all made up of local boys. The final was played on August 14th between the Polish Kutno team and Saudi Arabia. After six innings the score still stood at 0-0. It finally ended in the ninth innings when suddenly a Polish player slipped on the grass and failed to catch the ball: 1-0 to Saudi Arabia and defeat for Poland.

Little League baseball started in 1939 and was founded on a philosophy of the development of character, loyalty and courage through organized team sport. Many of the men who run international little league baseball were present at the opening ceremonies in Kutno, men who passionately believe in the ideals of character development through sport. Most were involved in Little League as young boys and some went on to become professional ball players. But all of them attribute to Little League a large measure of their character formation and success in life.