Little League marks historic event with 2 celebrations
The story goes that the late Carl E. Stotz gathered together neighorhood boys looking to play some kind of organized baseball to form the first Little League teams in Williamsport in 1939.
Thanks to the efforts of Stotz, the first Little League game was staged on June 6 of that year – 75 years ago.
To mark that historic milestone, Little League will hold a downtown gala event Friday while the Original League has events planned both Friday evening and Saturday.
The Community Arts Center will be the site for the downtown celebration, which will include the premiere of a special Little League film and an appearance by Terry Fator, the winner in season two of TV’s “America’s Got Talent.”
Fator, 48, is a ventriloquist, impressionist, comedian and singer. The Dallas, Texas, native does more than 100 ventriloquial impersonations.
He later was a headliner at The Mirage hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
Little League spokesman Brian McClintock said the event, which will coincide with Williamsport’s First Friday celebration, has been in the planning stages for a while.
“June 6 is the 75th anniversary of the first Little League game ever played,” he said. “We wanted to have a community celebration on the anniversary.”
McClintock said Little League is marking the year with a number of other programs and special events during 2014.
Expected to attend this week’s event will be Little League officials and players from the first teams in 1939: Bill Bair, Tuck Frazier, Dick Hauser, Dave Hinaman, Charlie Smith, George Spooner, Al “Sonny” Yearick.
The first three Little League teams were Lundy Lumber, Lycoming Dairy and Jumbo Pretzel Co.
In the historic initial Little League game, Lundy Lumber defeated Lycoming Dairy, 23-8.
Little League Baseball World Series play began in 1947 in Williamsport.
Each August, teams from around the globe compete in the World Series for the chance to be crowned champions. The games are staged at the historic Howard J. Lamade Memorial Stadium and Volunteer Stadium at the Little League complex in South Williamsport.
Over the years, the youth sports program has grown to an international organization with more than 2 million boys and girls playing baseball and softball around the world.
Friday’s event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with a pre-show reception featuring ball-park style food.
Later, Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, Little League International Board chairwoman and president of Pennsylvania College of Technology, and Little League President and CEO Stephen D. Keener will provide opening remarks.
“Little League: A History,” a WVIA original documentary, will be shown at 7:30 p.m.
Narrated by longtime legendary baseball broadcaster Vin Scully, the program celebrates Little League’s many contributions to the American culture.
Among the figures appearing in the documentary are former President George W. Bush, the only president to have played Little League; NASA Space Shuttle Commander Story Musgrave; former Los Angeles Dodger Owner Peter O’Malley; Cincinnati Reds star Todd Frazier; Allan “Bud” Selig, Major League Baseball Commissioner; and Carolyn King, whose 1973 lawsuit against Little League contributed to the league’s landmark policy reversal of prohibiting girls from playing Little League Baseball.
Other notable figures include James Gehron, nephew of Carl Stotz and the boy for whom Stotz invented Little League; Karen Stotz Myers and Monya Stotz Adkins, Carl Stotz’s daughters; and Kathryn “Tubby” Johnston Massar, the first girl to play Little League.
The event is by invitation only.
Among the activities scheduled at the Original League complex in the 1700 block of West Fourth Street, across from Memorial Park and Bowman Field, will be throw-back games, a T-ball round-robin event and appearances by some of the original Little Leaguers from 1939.
Action gets underway at 5 p.m. Friday when Frank Lundy II, the oldest active LL sponsor whose Lundy Lumber team was one of three to play that first season, will be honored. A game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. that night.
On Saturday, players from 1939 will be saluted at 12:30 p.m., with another game to follow. Games will feature today’s players wearing 1939 teams on their jerseys, according to league President Jim McKinney.