75 years ago — my wonderful summer of ‘42
For most Americans the summer of 1942 was a terrible time: it was the first year of the War which was going badly — Japan was advancing everywhere in Asia, Germany dominated Europe, U-boats were sinking ships up and down the coast and our men were continually leaving for the services. Shortages and rations were becoming a part of life so that my father could no longer buy gas for his car and my mother was learning to deal with food rationing. Yet for me, the summer of ’42 was a wonderful time because I got to play in the Original Little League. The demands of World War II gave me the opportunity to get out on that field and, with the help of my best friend Eddie Younken, I became the 1942 batting champion. This is my story.
I was born in 1930 and lived with my parents in a rental house on Newberry Street. Eddie Younken lived a black away on Apple Street and we both attended Webster School. However, in 1938 my dad was promoted to superintendent of the Armour Leather factory so we moved into one of the company houses opposite the tannery on West Third Street, and I transferred to Lincoln School.
I loved Lincoln but in 1939 I learned there was a consequence to this move: Carl Stotz, a local lumberyard clerk, had an idea for a boy’s baseball league. Carl scouted out a field, advertised tryouts and founded the Little League Baseball that would ultimately spread across the world. In May of 1940 I enthusiastically reported to the sized down field behind the Avco factory to try out for a team. I was kindly and sympathetically told that I could not play because participation was limited to boys from Webster and Jackson schools and I was turned away. Over the next two years I would often bike over to watch the games, especially if Eddie was playing. My disappointment grew in 1940 when the League took the boys to New York to visit the World’s Fair and then to Philadelphia in 1941 to see the Yankees play the Athletics in a major league game. The boys were also treated to a beyond-my-dreams experience when they got to meet the legendary Connie Mack!
By 1942 the War’s demand for aircraft engines had Avco’s business booming so that company expanded the plant and took over the Little League field. Somehow, despite my difficult times, Carl Stotz and his volunteers were able to relocate baseball to a field between West Fourth Street and the Lycoming Creek dike. By this time Eddie Younken and I were back together as 7th grade students at Roosevelt Jr. High. One morning at assembly I was thrilled to her our principal announce that all boys 12 or younger were invited to try out for Little League. Participation was still limited to Webster and Jackson primary schools but in the confusion Roosevelt Jr. High seemed to slip through the cracks. Of course, I applied immediately, tried out and was an extremely happy kid selected by Carl Stotz to play catcher for his Lycoming Dairy Team.
Finally I was part of the league play between the four teams named after their local sponsors: Lundy Lumber, Stein’s Service, Richardson Buick and my Lycoming Dairy. It was a wonderful experience enhanced by new baseballs, team uniforms, professional-quality umpiring and cheering fans. Lycoming was not in the first place but I was hitting well above .500. In the second half of the season I tailed off and Dick Rogers of Stein’s came on strong and, I’m sure, was in the lead. However, over the next two weeks, Eddie Younken pitched Lundy to the championship, pitching the first no-hit, no-run game in league history and shutting down Dick Rogers. As a result, I won the batting championship with a .473 average. At the season-ending “banquet” at the Lycoming Presbyerian Church I received the Carl E. Stotz trophy which sits on my mantle today. Thus ended my memorable Summer of ’42.
What happened to?
Carl Stotz made Williamsport famous as he facilitated the growth of Little League baseball around the nation as president of the Little League organization. However, he became concerned about the emphasis on playoffs and the World Series and its effect on the boys. In 1955 he resigned from that position and returned to concentrate on the Original League and its history. He later became the tax collector for Williamsport and he died in 1992, aged 82.
Eddie Younken was called to the ministry. He received degrees from Lycoming College, United Seminary, Penn State and New York Seminary. After serving many churches and communities, he spent 20 years as a Presbyterian minister in Edison and Rutherford, N.J. before retiring in 1994. He was an accomplished musician who played piano, organ and bassoon. He also authored many theological books, essays and articles and taught at the college level. Dr. Edward L. Younken died in 2010, aged 81.
Mullett graduated from Hamilton College and served in the Navy before entering the brokerage business with Merrill Lynch in Williamsport. He transferred to Toledo and subsequently worked in Florida, NewYork and New Jersey. He retired in 1991. He and his wife Carol located in Lake Toxaway, N.C. and Vero Beach, Fla. where they live today. The Little League World Series starts Thursday.