This past year was once again another successful year for Little League Baseball and Softball, and saw some very exciting changes, updates, and innovations for the future of the organization.
Starting with the 27th Little League International Congress in New Orleans, a gathering of our top volunteers, to kick off the year, 2018 was filled with technological updates to our website, Data Center, and local league technology to continue to provide digital solutions for our volunteers.
This year, we also saw an expansion of ESPN coverage of our Little League World Series and Regional tournaments, notably adding more than 90 games from our Little League Softball tournaments. In total, more than 230 games were broadcasted on the ESPN Family of Networks, allowing fans from every corner of the world to tune in and watch the excitement of the International Tournament.
In addition to our exciting events and opportunities, we once again teamed with MLB and the MLBPA for another successful MLB Little League Classic event that saw the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies come to Williamsport for an exciting day focused on the youth. From first-hand interactions between the MLB players and the LLBWS players at the Little League Complex, to the excitement that took place at Bowman Field that night, the 2018 MLB Little League Classic was a day the fans, players, and volunteers will always remember.
This past year we reached out to those local leagues in need to provide additional support as we distributed more than $1.1 million in resources to nearly 60 leagues through our Little League Grow the Game Grant program. As part of that effort, Little League International worked together with outside organizations and its dedicated volunteers to provide disaster relief to leagues affected by natural disasters all over the world. In addition to our efforts, our dedicated official sponsors jumped in to help with more than $500,000 in grants to assist with local Little League programs this past year.
Our organization’s structure saw some changes in 2018 as well, including the addition of new employees, welcoming new members to our Board of Directors and Advisory Board, and a restructuring of our corporate structure that will assist our organization make the best decisions for the future. Along with our additions, we also had the opportunity to congratulate some of our great employees on their well-deserved retirements in 2018.
While we had to say goodbye to some important friends and dedicated volunteers, we are looking forward to an exciting future of Little League Baseball and Softball and for the start of the 2019 season. Thank you to all our volunteers, our partners, and our staff for all the hard work that has made this past year so memorable, and we look forward to working together to make the future even more memorable.