Mickey Mouse was smiling broadly under sunny skies as he threw the opening pitch at the 2006 Little League Baseball Asia-Pacific Region Tournament.
After days of friendly rivalry, teams from Japan and Mariana Islands have won the games and will advance to the Little League World Series.
A couple thousand baseball fans turned out on July 23 to see the opening of this popular annual event. The tournament brought players and their families from over 11 regions in Asia and the Pacific to Hong Kong Disneyland. The theme park had lent a magic touch, constructing two seaview stadiums and baseball pitches between its Disney Resort hotels, allowing Hong Kong to host the gathering in style.
|Exciting game: Fans came out in droves to Hong Kong Disney Resort to watch the tournament and support their favourite team.|
Welcoming players and fans at the opening ceremony, Hong Kong Disney's Executive Vice President and Managing Director Bill Ernest said the company wanted to help the region's young baseball champions realise their dreams.
Before the games, Mickey and the Hong Kong All Stars led the teams in reciting the Little League pledge:
I trust in God
I love my country and will respect its laws
I will play fair and strive to win
- but win or lose I will alway do my best.
Traditional ballpark treats on offer
To ensure an authentic baseball experience, traditional ballpark snacks of hotdogs and popcorn were on offer - and quickly sold out. Crowds in the stadium turned to ice cream or soft drinks for refreshment.
Kids enjoyed the game as much as they enjoyed their treats. Many of them sported the Brand Hong Kong flying dragon tattoo on their faces to show their support for the local team. As the match pitting Hong Kong against Thailand started, they rushed to sit behind the catcher, clinging to the net for a closer look at the game.
The excitement continued to build as the afternoon match between the Hong Kong and Thai all-star teams progressed. One after another, fans in the stands stood up, raised their arms and sat down again to create giant 'waves' while tossing giant beach balls around the stadium.
Plenty of fun off the diamond, too
Youngsters who were more interested in playing than watching the show on the diamond got to try their hand at a special game of "baseball tic-tac-toe". Many happily carted off their 'trophies' of Disney-character dolls.
Tournament-goers could also play ball in the activity zone where they could bat, catch and pitch like a pro or improve their all-round baseball skills at the clinic arranged by the Hong Kong Little League. Lucky draws and other fun activities were held between games.
It was easy to spot players' parents - the ones zooming around the stadium with super-size lenses on their cameras, capturing their kid's every move. Players on the bench all watched closely to assess how their teammates were doing. All the while the crowd cheered, "Hong Kong!" The audience support worked wonders for the home team, as Hong Kong won its first game, against Thailand, 9 to 2.
Team China makes its debut
Making its Little League tournament debut this year was Team China. The veteran Korean team beat them 11 to 6 in their first match. But as every good sport knows, "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game."
The Little League Tournament ended yesterday. Though heavy rains cancelled the final contest on Saturday, teams from Japan and Mariana Islands have been named winners of Asia Region and Pacific Region Groups as they won in most of the contests. Both teams will advance to the Little League World Series held in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in August.
Click here to see a photo gallery of the opening day.
The Hong Kong Little League is a non-profit organisation founded in 1972 to promote and support youth baseball in Hong Kong. There were 31 Little League teams in 2005 in Hong Kong.
Little league baseball and softball is the world's largest organised youth sports program, with nearly 2.7 million players and 1 million adult volunteers around the world.
Go To Top