St. Louis Cardinals

Cardinals, Pirates to play regular-season game in minor-league park

The St. Louis Cardinals will play the Pittsburgh Pirates in a regular-season game Aug. 20 in Williamsport, Pa., to celebrate youth baseball during the Little League World Series.

The game will be televised at 6 p.m. on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.

“It will be exciting for our team to be able to take part in the celebration of youth baseball at the home of the Little League World Series,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said in a statement released by the ball club. “To witness first-hand the energy and excitement of the Little Leaguers and their family and friends will no doubt take us all back to our baseball roots and the special memories that the game of baseball provides.”

The announcement was made by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. The game is being called the “MLB Little League Classic” and will be played at the renovated BB&T Ballpark at Bowman Field, home of the Class A Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League.

Major-leaguers who have participated in the Little League World Series include the Cardinals’ Randal Grichuk and Lance Lynn, the New York Mets’ Michael Conforto, the Chicago White Sox’s Todd Frazier, former Cardinal Colby Rasmus and Baltimore’s Jonathan Schoop and others. Grichuk played in two Little League World Series.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said it’s important to reach out to youth in order to grow baseball’s popularity.

“Major League Baseball’s greatest responsibility is to ensure that today’s youth become active participants in our game as players and fans,” Manfred said. “The MLB Little League Classic exemplifies our entire sport’s commitment to building a stronger connection between young people and the national pastime.

“Our players will honor the great tradition of the Little League World Series and create lifelong memories for the Little Leaguers, their families and the city of Williamsport.”

Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said the game is “a wonderful opportunity for both of our teams and the game of baseball to showcase the way baseball links generations.”

“Our national pastime is something that brings families together, and this game in Williamsport is a great way to showcase that for baseball fans all across our country,” DeWitt said.

BB&T Ballpark at Bowman Field, which opened in 1926, is the second-oldest minor-league ballpark in the United States. More than 560 major-leaguers, including Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Bill Mazeroski, Jim Rice and Jim Bunning, have worn a professional baseball uniform for Williamsport.

The Williamsport event follows the Fort Bragg game of 2016 that was the first regular-season game of a professional sport ever played on an active military base. 

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm