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LITTLE LEAGUE FIRST

Fifty-seven years after the first games were played in Williamsport, Pa., Little League Baseball has finally officially made it to South-Central Los Angeles.

On Saturday at 10 a.m., the Conrad N. Hilton Little League Field at Martin Luther King Jr. Park will be dedicated, the first phase of a plan to build five Little League facilities in underprivileged areas, said Tom Boyle, former director of Little League’s western region. The second park will be built in Elysian Park and should be completed by summer. Plans call for fields to be built in northeast Los Angeles, Pacoima and Watts.

“This could be a prototype for the whole nation,” said Boyle, who is acting as a consultant for this Little League program. “If we’re going to turn some of these kids around, we are going to have to keep them active and make them feel wanted.”

Little League baseball is for youths ages 6 to 18, but the 10 teams that will play at Martin Luther King Jr. Park will be for ages 6 to 12. Little League, which started in 1939 with three teams in Williamsport, is now played in 94 countries.

Funding for the field came from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Coca-Cola, the Ahmanson Foundation, the Weingart Foundation and the Amateur Athletic Foundation. The field is the first sanctioned Little League field in South-Central Los Angeles, said Mary Braunwarth of the parks department.

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