Little League/Martian alliance a PR success

Michael Pobat, Northern Virginia Little League district administrator, had an idea to merge science with baseball. In doing so, he successfully petitioned Little League Baseball to annex all of Mars to his district -- approximately 5,000 boys and girls -and caused a minor PR sensation.

Michael Pobat, Northern Virginia Little League district administrator, had an idea to merge science with baseball. In doing so, he successfully petitioned Little League Baseball to annex all of Mars to his district -- approximately 5,000 boys and girls -and caused a minor PR sensation.

The idea's implementation, which Pobat told the AP, he came up with years ago, happily coincided with recent exploration on Mars that has netted evidence of water existing on the planet.

Little League Baseball got behind the idea and sent out a news release back in February, according to Lance Van Auken, Little League senior communications executive and spokesman. The Associated Press did a story around that time and this week, as the state tournament nears in July, the issue has reemerged in the papers.

"It's the type of story that has legs and people pick up on it as time goes on," said Van Auken, who was not surprised by the media attention.

"It gets the word out about Little Leagues, but it can also teach kids about space."

In the past week, outlets such as CNNSI.com, the USA Today, the Seattle Times, the Detroit Free Press, and others have run the story.

The AP reported that volunteers expect to build upon the Mars theme by having antennae-wearing volunteers selling Mars candy bars during the Virginia tournament.

The charter committee hears hundreds of proposals a year from districts that want to make their programs better. Ideas like the Challenger League, where over 26,000 mentally and physically handicapped play in league with flexible rules. He also cited the initiative to re-introduce baseball to urban areas where interest has waned over the past couple of years had been started by two people in the Harlem neighborhood in New York City.

"A lot of the best ideas come from the local level where they have an idea and run with it," Van Auken said.

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