Nearly 1,500 Little League® volunteers were officially welcomed in an unforgettable fashion.
The 27th Little League® International Congress officially got underway on Friday, January 19, as Little League Baseball and Softball welcomed nearly 1,500 volunteers with the Opening Convocation at the New Orleans Convention Center.
With all of Little League’s representatives gathered together, the attendees were officially welcomed to the city with a video tribute from New Orleans Saints Quarterback, Drew Brees, thanking them for their service to the organization.
“I had so many great experiences playing Little League Baseball and developed so many great relationships,” said Mr. Brees. “It’s because of volunteers like you all that made that experience possible for me and for so many other people. So, welcome to New Orleans for the Little League Congress and enjoy your time here!”
Following the video, attendees got a taste of the city’s culture with a welcoming performance from Betty Winn and the One A-Chord Gospel Singers before a group of local Little Leaguers from Louisiana Districts 1 and 2 opened the night with the storied tradition of reciting the Little League Pledge.
After enjoying an impressive reel of highlights from the past four years, former Little League Baseball® World Series manager and ESPN personality, Dave Belisle, took the stage and spoke about his famous moment in Williamsport and the importance that the moment meant to him and his family.
“I enjoyed coaching like I’ve never enjoyed coaching before,” said Mr. Belisle. “I embraced every one of those kids and every practice was like my last practice. Every person that touched my life along this Little League journey, I said thank you to.”
Attendees were then treated to a full retrospective video tribute, featuring all of the accomplishments over the last four years and an emotional segment honoring those who we have lost, before the Little League Congress officially was put in order with the International Roll Call as the Field Directors of the Little League International Board of Directors reported in with the representations of their respective regions.
The highlight of the night came as Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, the first Little League alumni to hold the position, was officially enshrined into the Little League Hall of Excellence. Following his enshrinement, Commissioner Manfred joined together with Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO, and ESPN’s Karl Ravech for a keynote discussion which was broadcasted via Facebook Live on Little League’s official Facebook account.
With an exciting night of entertainment and fun coming to a close, the Opening Convocation officially wrapped up with a bang as the drumline from the Carmouche Performing Arts Academy took the stage alongside local Mardis Gras performers to escort all of the attendees out to the streets of New Orleans for a private parade back to the hotel to end the night.