Little League Baseball
Little League Baseball has been popular in America since 1939. Little League Baseball was founded in 1939 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania by Carl E. Stotz. It is the largest most participated youth sports organization in the world. The Little League Motto “COURAGE, CHARACTER, and LOYALTY” has withstood the test of time. Many young people may have not advanced in the game of baseball but most have participated in Little League. Little League is played in all 50 United States and 80 other countries worldwide. Little League Baseball is an institution in the U.S.A.
Little League Baseball was founded by Stotz in 1939 as a three-team league in Williamsport, Pa. Little League was founded to encourage local volunteers to operate and support Little League programs that are chartered worldwide. Each league structures itself to best serve the needs of kids in baseball throughout the Little League Kingdom. There are many specific divisions of the League baseball and also softball. Baseball is available for children ages 4 to 18.
The organization is located in Williamsport, Pa. Williamsport is the home of the first little team and the first Little League World Series played there in 1947. Howard J. Lamade Stadium and the Little League Volunteer Stadium complex host the annual World Series. This central Pennsylvania town also is home for the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum providing a history of the game.
EARLY HISTORY OF THE LITTLE LEAGUE
Carl Stotz founded the league as a resident of Williamsport in 1939. In 1938 he started experimenting with the idea of kids playing a smaller version of baseball. He got his nephews together, Jim and Major Gehron and a bunch of their friends. They experimented with different dimensions of the field throughout the summer of 38. In 1939 Stotz believed he had it correct as he established what is now Little League Baseball. The first league had three teams. Jumbo Pretzel, Lycoming Dairy and Lundy Lumber were all organized and managed by Carl and a couple of his friends. (George and Bert Bebble.) They and their wives formed the first Board of Directors. They emphasized fair play and team work and Carl Stotzs’ dream came true. In the first game on June 6 Lundy Lumber cleaned Lycoming Dairies clock by a 23 – 8 rout. Then the Dairy team got revenge and won the first league championship. The season was divided into half seasons that each determined a champion. The first half was won by Lycoming Dairy and the second by Lundy Lumber. They played a best-of-three series. The Lumber team won the season championship. Little League Baseball was inaugurated. In 1940 another league was formed in Williamsport and the League grew and is now an international organization of almost 200,000 teams in all fifty US States and 80 countries around the globe.
In the early years of 1951 through 1974 the league was a boys only organization. After that time the rules were change and allowed participation of girls in the program due to a law suite file by the National Organization for Women on behalf of Maria Pepe.
The Little League Organization through baseball and softball programs has since the 2008 baseball season nearly 2.6 million players throughout the world that include both boys and girls. (including 400,000 registered softball players) The league operates seven World Series Tourney’s and is divided into 16 regions eight National and eight International.
MARIA PEPE 1974
FIRST GIRL LITTLE LEAGUE PLAYER (LEFT)
In 1946 the League had grown to 12 Leagues in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and in 1947 the first league outside of Pa. was started in Hammonton, New Jersey. The first Little World Series was played in 1947 and the Maynard League of Williamsport beat the team from Lock Haven, Pa. to be crowned the first champions. By 1948 Little League had grown to 94 different leagues. The Boston Braves signed Allen Yearlick the first Little Leaguer to sign a big league contract. In 1949 The Saturday Evening Post had a feature on the league and many Newreels picked up stories about games. At this time there were request from all over the US asking about starting Little Leagues. In the early 1950’s teams began forming in Canada and in Panama.
In 1953 the first Little League World Series was televised and Jim McKay did the play by play announcing for CBS. ABC Radio provided Howard Cosell as the announcer and Joey Jay of Middletown, Ct. was the first player to play MLB for the Milwaukee Braves. Baltimore Orioles first baseman Boog Powell played in the Little League World Series in 1954 for Lakeland, Florida. Chicago Cubs third baseman Ken Hubbs also played in the Classic. In California in 1954 the league expanded to more than 3,300 leagues. In Midland, Texas future President of the U.S. George W. Bush was a catcher for Cubs in the Central Little League. The first Little League player to be elected President of the United States.