The first ticket to the 2023 Little League Baseball® World Series has officially been punched as Activo 20-30 Little League of Santiago de Veraguas took home the Panama Championship title with a 2-1 win over the defending champion Aguadulce Cabezera Little League to seal its direct entry into this year’s tournament.
Activo 20-30 Little League finished the country tournament with a 6-1 record, its only loss coming in the first game of the three-game championship series against Aguadulce Cabezera Little League before bouncing back to claim the series title and direct entry to the World Series.
This will be the 12th time a team from Panama makes the trip to Williamsport, and the second time for this community after it made the trip in 2001 with future MLB infielder Rubén Tejada highlighting the roster in the tournament’s first year of expansion to 16 teams. That year, the league finished the World Series with a 1-2 record in pool play, picking up its lone victory with a 6-1 win over eventual World Series champion, Kitasuna Little League (Tokyo, Japan).
In addition to watching Mr. Tejada earn the call to the majors, Panama has also seen another baseball star make his way from the Little League Baseball World Series to the major leagues with 2004 LLBWS graduate Christian Bethancourt (Curundu Little League – Panama City, Panama) earning the call in 2013.
This year marks the second year of direct entry for Panama as part of the World Series expansion in 2022 after Aguadulce Cabezera Little League finished last year’s event with a 1-2 record. In 2024, Panama will have the opportunity to compete through the Latin America Region Tournament before returning with direct entry in 2025 and 2026.
Throughout the years, Panama has been engrained in the history of the Little League program, even outside of the World Series. In 1950, the first leagues outside the United States were formed on either side of the Panama Canal with the Pacific and Atlantic Little Leagues of Balboa. Panama is also home to Mariano Rivera, a graduate of the Barrio Colon Little League (La Chorrea, Panama) in the 1980s and a 2015 Enshrinee of the Little League® Hall of Excellence.
The 2023 Little League Baseball World Series is set to take place on August 16-27. The official schedule for the tournament will be announced in March and first-round pairings will be randomly drawn in June, all of which will be made available at LittleLeague.org/WorldSeries. To learn more about planning a visit to Williamsport for the event, go to LittleLeague.org/Visit and check back frequently as the event nears closer for additional information.