When Carl E. Stotz organized the first Little League® season in 1938, he leaned on the Williamsport community for support. On June 6, 1939, the first Little League game was played, and the local businesses and residents played a significant role in the success of that first year. Today, 75 years later, Little League is the hallmark of more than 7,000 communities around the world. To recognize the importance of local Little League programs to the fabric of society in their hometowns, Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO, presented the inaugural Carl E. Stotz Little League Community Award to South Little League of South Williamsport, Pa.
“When planning our 75th Anniversary celebrations, we knew we wanted to create a special tribute in honor of our founder, Carl Stotz,” said Mr. Keener. “This award speaks not only to Carl’s love of his home community, but also his vision of local Little League programs being a place where families gather to support the children in their neighborhood.”
Located in the “backyard” of Little League International headquarters, South Little League first chartered in 1948. The 66-year-old league, affectionately known as Little Mountaineer, has provided opportunities for countless children to have a memorable Little League experience. The heart of the league, Lions Field, has been a training ground for young boys and girls for decades. Over the years, though, the field began to wear and was in danger of being closed. In 2011, South Little League decided to start a $170,000 renovation project, even though they only had $20,000. In a year, the local community came together to not only raise the money needed, but also volunteer their time and expertise to see the project to completion in time for the 2012 season.
“We couldn’t think of a better recipient of the first Carl E. Stotz Little League Community Award,” said Mr. Keener. “Lions Field is a historical treasure in the town, and their renovation project has rejuvenated not only the league, but all of the citizens of South Williamsport. To find a league this deserving of the recognition here in the hometown of Little League International makes this first award even more special.”
Little League presented South Little League with a $5,000 donation at the 2014 Little League Baseball World Series Luncheon on Wednesday, June 11. On hand to accept the award was Dave Geise, South Little League Vice President, and two Little Mountain Little Leaguers, Chris Klein and Luke Winner. The recognition will also be honored at the 2014 Little League International Awards Breakfast during the Little League Baseball® World Series. This annual award will continue to celebrate a community’s commitment to their local Little League program.