WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Our state may not have a team in the Little League World Series every August, but Maine will forever be enshrined in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
The World of Little League Museum overlooks Howard J. Lamade Stadium, where Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond took the field Thursday representing Maine in the Little League World Series for the first time in 18 years.
Their "team ball," signed by all the players, is already in museum custody. That's one of the first things teams from around the world do when they arrive at the complex.
One of the oldest fixtures at the museum is—you guessed it—a Maine jersey from 1951.
Museum Director Adam Thompson said it's rare for the museum to have uniforms that old in its collection. More than 85 years of little league history is stored, shared, and celebrated in Williamsport.
Every team has their photo downloaded onto an interactive video board for fans, friends, and former players to check out. That includes the Maine teams from 1951, 1971, and 2005 who played here before this summer.
“Little league is just a really big part of American history, but it’s also world history," Thompson added.
Thompson grew up within biking distance of Lamade Stadium, and it took him a while to realize how unique the tournament in his backyard really is.
“When you’re a child you kind of think every town has this, so for the longest time I just assumed this was normal," Thompson said.
For 25 years, he's worked for little league baseball, helping create positive experiences and memories for people across the world, and from Maine.
"It’s interesting to see how emotional [visitors] get as they walk through the museum. I think it kind of triggers those memories of being an 11- and 12-year-old, playing on the baseball field, softball field," Thompson added.
There were a few Mainers checking out the exhibits during Friday's day off from game action.
John Cavallaro, Luke Merry, and Todd Merry made the drive from Gray to Williamsport at 3 a.m. Thursday to catch the local team's first game in the Little League World Series this week.
"It’s always been on my bucket list and there’s been no better reason than to have the local All-Star team make it this far," Todd Merry said.
These three have an even closer connection to this Maine team, as they were involved in the local little league as players, coaches, and board members.
Luke Merry coached the 1978 Gray All-Star team and did admit the 2023 team would beat his team "without a doubt."
Cavallaro and Todd Merry were also part of the decision to merge the Gray and New Gloucester Little League All-Star teams 15 years ago.
Hindsight is 20/20, but that was a good call.
"I think that was a pretty important thing to happen," Cavallaro said.
The three Mainers were also excited to learn their local little league will forever be a part of history in this museum.
They, along with a few hundred other Mainers, will be on hand to watch Saturday's elimination game at 2 p.m. as Maine takes on Pennsylvania.