Meet Sam Bryant – Irmo Little League (gets to meet President)!

Players Chosen for Tee Ball on the South Lawn All-Star Game – All 50 States to be Represented

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (June 19, 2008) Fifty-one Tee Ball players from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have been selected to play at the White House in the first Tee Ball on the South Lawn All-Star Game, set for July 16.

(Note: A highlight video from some of the Tee Ball on the South Lawn games of the past seven years can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/user/DugoutTheMascot)

For the past seven years, President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush have invited Little League Tee Ball teams to the White House for games on the South Lawn. President Bush, the first U.S. President to have played Little League, uses the games as a way to highlight the fun and camaraderie that children and their families can have by participating in the sports of baseball and softball.

Since the event was announced in April, a selection panel at Little League International has reviewed hundreds of entries from around the country. Each entry was accompanied by an essay from the player’s coach, league president, teacher or school principal, giving the personl reasons for making the recommendation. (The essay for Sam, written by his brother, is printed after this release). Little League’s Tee Ball division is for players who are ages 4-7, with about 800,000 participants in the U.S.

In keeping with the tradition of Tee Ball on the South Lawn games, no score will be kept as the 51 players are divided into four teams that will play two games of one inning each. Every player on the four teams will play on defense and bat once, followed by a picnic on the South Lawn for players and their families. A baseball autographed by President George W. Bush will be presented by the President himself to each player. Game time is to be announced.

The game will be the 19th to be played on the South Lawn of the White House since May 6, 2001, when President Bush began the initiative as a way to boost interest in youth sports among children and parents. It will be the first game involving players from all the states.

The first Tee Ball on the South Lawn game of 2008 will be on June 30, between the Josa M. Rodriguez Little League Angels of Manati, Puerto Rico, and the Cramer Hill Little League Red Sox of Camden, N.J. The third and final Tee Ball game of the year will be held later in the summer on a date to be announced, featuring children from each branch of the military, giving the President an opportunity to honor families in the armed services.

President Bush played Little League Baseball at Central Little League in Midland, Texas, in the mid-1950s. He was on the Cubs, and was a catcher. In 2001, President Bush was enshrined in the Little League Museum Hall of Excellence when he visited the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

The Tee Ball on the South Lawn games are made possible through the generosity of these sponsors: Wilson Sporting Goods, New Era Caps, Russell Athletic, Musco Sports Lighting, Dick’s Sporting Goods, AIG Insurance, and Subway.

Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest youth sports organization, with nearly 2.7 million children participating in every U.S. state and dozens of other countries on six continents. Little League is the only youth sports organization to be chartered by the U.S. Congress.

Sam’s brother Patrick wrote the following essay:

It’s six o’clock. If you close your eyes you can hear the gruff voice of a coach talking about the game – giving tips, pointers, and energy to his team – firing them up for the game. There’s cheering, and then another voice yells, “Batter up!” More cheering. Fans call the names of their favorite players – by their first names. And if you open your eyes, you can see that the game is baseball, and with all the hype you may have thought it was the opening innings of the World Series, but no, there’s my little brother Sam up at bat for the first time. It’s his first tee-ball game.

Of course, he’s facing the wrong way, and he’s holding the bat with all the vigor of a bowl of Jell-o, but he’s five and he’s got that wild smile on his face that we in the bleachers can’t help but to mimic. But he’s learning. He hits the ball, comes back, yells “Mommy! Did you see me, did you see me?”

And what if the field he’s playing on was at the White House, think of what he’d be yelling from the dugout then. Think of the time he’d have, the memory of that game and the joy it would bring him, the sort of ambition he’d gain – dreams of becoming a star in the major leagues maybe. But maybe not. Maybe later he’ll decide that he doesn’t want to continue with baseball, that he wants to pursue other things in the game of life. If so, he’ll still remember the game – the game at the White House – and he’ll be ready to pick up his bat, take good swing at whatever his goals may be. My guess is that he’ll knock it out of the park.