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What international countries have the most Little League World series titles?

Little League Baseball and Softball might be as American as apple pie, but the Little League World Series has split the champions with international teams

Little League Baseball and Softball might be as American as apple pie, but the Little League World Series has split the champions with international teams
Evan HabeebUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Since the founding of the Little League World Series in 1939, there have been 74 champions crowned. You might expect the vast bulk of those champions to come from the various regions of the United States, what with baseball being America’s game and all, but you might be in for a bit of a shock to find that nearly half of those champions were teams representing overseas nations.

The United States still has the most titles of any single nation at 38, but that still means that international teams have taken the other 37 titles. When you factor in that the first nine tournaments were not open to participation by other nations, that is an even more remarkable statistic.

The international country who has appeared in most LLWS has been, predictably, Canada with 63 appearances, although they have yet to win it all. Mexico, by contrast, has appeared in half as many LLWS with 33 appearances, but have been crowned champion three times, in 1957, 1958, and 1997.

Nations as varied and unlikely as Saudi Arabia, West Germany, Russia, Turkey, and Poland have all made appearances in the LLWS, but the international team with the most victories is Taiwan, officially known as either Republic of China or Chinese Taipei, being crowned victors 17 times. Japan follows them with 11 LLWS titles.

Taiwan would very likely have quite a few more titles to their collection, perhaps even rivalling the United States in totals for a single country, were it not for a scandal leading to a rule change in 1974.

In that year, Taiwan had won five of the previous six LLWS, leading to international criticism that the Taiwanese government were lying about some of their players’ ages in order to load their lineup. Additionally, suspicions were aroused that these players all came from a single academy, essentially making them professional baseball players.

Little League organizers responded by banning all international teams in 1975, but the outcry was so great that international teams were readmitted in 1976, with a caveat. From 1976 forward, all international teams would be grouped in one bracket, thereby guaranteeing that a US team would appear in the final.

Nevertheless, Taiwan dominated the LLWS from 1977 until 1996, winning 12 titles during that 19-year period. A further rule change affecting the pool of qualifying teams in 1992 led to Taiwan withdrawing from the competition between 1997 and 2002. Since their return, they have never returned to the dominating force that they once were, making the finals only once, in 2009, when they lost 6-3 to Chula Vista, California.

In 1992, Long Beach, California was declared a 6–0 winner under forfeit rules after the international tournament committee determined that Zamboanga City, Philippines, who had won their game 15-4, had used ineligible players that were either not from within its city limits, over age, or both.

Here are the number of titles won by country.

  1. United States 38
  2. Taiwan 17
  3. Japan 11
  4. Mexico 3
  5. South Korea 3
  6. Venezuela 2
  7. Curaçao 1

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