Little League Adds 20 Feet to the Outfield

Baseball players ages 11 and 12 who are playing in the Little League World Series this summer will have to run farther and throw harder because 20 feet have been added to the field. Lance Van Auchen, spokesman for Little League Baseball, explains why outfield fences are being moved to 225 feet away from homeplate.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

Long-shot dreams of hitting a homerun in a Little League World Series are getting longer by about 20 feet. At the two stadiums in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where the Series is played, construction crews are moving the green and yellow wooden outfield fences farther back.

Mr. LANCE VAN AUCHEN (Little League Baseball): We've noticed over time that there are very few doubles and triples being hit, far fewer than there should be.

NORRIS: That's Lance Van Auchen, spokesman for Little League Baseball. He says this is not about challenging 12-year-old sluggers to swing harder. It's to encourage more play in the outfield.

Mr. VAN AUCHEN: With the fence at 205 feet, the outfielders that we have at the Little League Baseball Word Series can get to the ball very quickly. Almost as soon as the ball hits the fence, the outfielders are on top of it. Most of the outfielders we have here can throw it from there all the way to home plate on the fly. That's going to be much more difficult with the fence back at 225 feet. There aren't very many players that could make that throw all the way in, so they're going to have to depend on their teammates to relay it.

NORRIS: Van Auchen says there's no standard distance between the outfield fence and home plate for Little League ball fields, though 200 feet is recommended, and he doesn't think the change in South Williamsport will cause local clubs to push their fences back.

Mr. VAN AUCHEN: There are only 16 teams around the world from 70 or 80 countries that play Little League that make it here, so you have about a 2,000-to-1 chance, in some cases, of even making it to the World Series, so for a league to move their fences back just in response to this probably is not a good idea, but they're certainly welcome to.

NORRIS: Little League Baseball spokesman Lance Van Auchen, talking about pushing the outfield fences back at the home of Little League World Series. The 60th Little League World Series is scheduled to begin August 18.

Now, just to compare, in the major leagues, that distance can range from 310 feet between home plate and the Green Monster at Boston's Fenway Park and 435 feet at Minute Maid Park's center field in Houston.

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