You have to cross the Susquehanna River to get to the Little League World Series. That’s because the games themselves take place not in Williamsport but South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a neighborhood tucked between the West Branch of the river and some hills that separate the borough from Armstrong township.
Baseball wasn’t born on the Susquehanna because it wasn’t born anywhere. The record on it is fuzzy: no one really knows who invented it or where the rules came from. But Abner Doubleday and Cooperstown get the credit because they asked for it. Today the Baseball Hall of Fame sits to the northwest in Cooperstown, New York. And while baseball’s perfection has no true origin story, it’s safe to say the game grew into its own in the river’s watershed.
Cooperstown and Williamsport are towns made from much of the same cloth. Over the summer a friend visited Cooperstown, for example, and posted a picture to Instagram of a lovely old house they parked in front of a few blocks from the museum. It was instantly recognizable as the same one my family parked near a decade earlier on my first visit. Cooperstown is just that kind of place, and so is Williamsport. It’s a town that has fireflies. It’s stable and consistent, a friendly origin story woven into a geographic location’s very soul.