While Major League Baseball won’t actually begin its 2022 season until March 31, the Pasadena Southwest Little League (“PSWLL”) is already preparing for its season, which will begin on February 26, 2022.
The local Little League branch, one of three Pasadena leagues in California’s District 17 and part of the national program based out of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, will be celebrating its 69th year of America’s Pastime when the first pitch is thrown.
According to current President Matthew Alexander, Pasadena Southwest Little League offers programs for boys and girls aged five to 14, beginning with T-ball.
“That’s really our foundational program,” said Alexander recently. “It’s really important to us that we give those kids a really special, even magical, first experience of playing baseball that really helps them fall in love with this game that we are also passionate about. It’s a very nurturing, non-competitive environment for the youngest kids.”
As the website mission states, the mission of the league is “to provide a positive youth sports experience for every child regardless of ability. We honor teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play. Our coaches, parents and fans teach these values by example and keep the best interests of every player in mind.”
Pasadenan Stan Gray founded Pasadena Southwest Little League in 1953, after graduating from Pasadena High School in 1936, and playing second base on the Pasadena City College Lancer team, where his shortstop and double play partner was a promising young ballplayer from Northwest Pasadena named Jackie Robinson.
The new league played its first game at Allendale Park on May 25, 1953. That ballpark is now called Stan Gray Field at Allendale Park.
Staffed by volunteers, the league is funded through player registration fees, donations, and sponsorships. Unlike other local leagues, Pasadena has yet to send a player to The Show, but, as Alexander explained, a major league baseball career might not be the ultimate goal here.
“We haven’t sent any players to the major leagues,” said Alexander, a former Little Leaguer himself. “I don’t know about the other leagues. We hope that someday that we will. But we are a little league, we’re not like a travel ball program or a hardcore baseball commitment. It’s not a year-round program. So, there may be kids who play with us and then move on to more competitive baseball. And it’s obviously a very, very small percentage of, even the best baseball players who will, who will make the majors, of course.”
Happily pressing the point, Alexander, who has two young baseball-playing sons of his own, says, “It’s really not about how good the kids are and how talented they are. We have an instructional and recreational culture, where we welcome all kids to play, whether or not they’ve played before with previous experience, or whether they are on their way to the majors.
“We find ways to form balanced teams,” he continued. “So kids can play at the level at which they’re going to be able to play safely and successfully. It’s always a balance between the developmental spirit and the naturally competitive nature of the game of baseball.”
Spring 2022 registration is now open and Spring evaluations begin January 8, 2022.
More information about Pasadena Southwest Little League is available at www.pswll.com.