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Minnesota State Tournament Milestones

The structure of Little League Baseball's international tournament in Minnesota has changed several times since the first state tournament was held in 1962. Key events in the evolution of this structure include the following:

YEARMILESTONE
1950sMinnesota's first leagues are established, and these leagues begin competing in the international tournament. Ely Little League is the state's first entrant in the tournament, and they competed alongside leagues from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Western Ontario, and Wisconsin in the early stages of area and district tournament play in the mid-1950s. A pair of leagues from St. Cloud join Ely in the tournament in 1957, and St. Louis Park Little League also enters in 1958. While Minnesota maintains several chartered leagues, and in fact grows the number of charters in the state, none of the state's leagues enter the international tournament in 1960 or 1961.
1962Seven charters are established in Duluth in 1961, and after the one year waiting period that was standard in this era, these leagues enter the international tournament in 1962. They are joined by Hibbing and Virginia Little Leagues in a nine-team, single elimination tournament held at Duluth's Park Point. West Duluth Little League is the state's first champion, and advances to the North Region Sectional tournament in Omaha, Nebraska, where they faced state champions from other Midwestern states for the right to advance to the Division 1 tournament. With the exception of 1973, Minnesota leagues would continue to funnel into sectional and divisional tournaments -- initially against a number of Midwestern states, and later against Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula leagues -- until the 1990 international tournament.

Although there are a number of chartered leagues in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area throughout the 1960s, these leagues elect to hold local all-star tournaments rather than enter the international tournament. In ensuing years, all tournament entrants begin play at the state tournament level, and the state tournament is contested solely by leagues from Northern Minnesota until the first Twin Cities-area league enters in 1969.

1972Cottage Grove Little League and Little Lakes Little League from Shoreview enter the international tournament, marking the first time multiple leagues from Southern Minnesota enter the tournament.
1975More Southern Minnesota leagues are starting to enter the tournament, so Minnesota organizes leagues into two districts, with one encompassing the Twin Cities area and one featuring leagues from Northern Minnesota. These two district champions then meet in a one-game playoff that determines the state champion. Minnesota uses the two-district, single-elimination format through the 1994 international tournament, with the exception of 1978 and 1985. In these years, no Northern Minnesota leagues enter the international tournament, though many charters remain active, so the District 1 champion is crowned the state champion and advances to compete in sectional competition.
1990Minnesota's champion begins advancing directly to the Central Region tournament rather than first competing in a divisional tournament. The state's champion has continued to advance directly to regional tournament competition in every year since this time.
1995Minnesota officials reorganize the state's leagues into four districts, with Districts 1 and 2 covering the Twin Cities area, District 3 being centered around Duluth, and District 4 encompassing leagues in far Northern Minnesota. These four district champions then meet in a double-elimination tournament that determines the state's champion and representative in the Central Region tournament.
2001Minnesota is assigned to the Midwest Region as Little League Baseball expands the Little League World Series from eight to sixteen participants.
2007In a one-year change, Minnesota's state tournament uses a round-robin format, with the top two finishers then meeting in the state championship game. The next year, Minnesota reverts to the double-elimination format that was used previously.

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Last revision: 04/15/2014