25th Little League International Congress Concludes in Lexington, Ky.
The 25th Little League International Congress convened in Lexington, Ky., March 12-15, and for four days more than 460 delegates from the U.S. 50 states and more than 30 other countries debated and decided the direction of the Little League Baseball and Softball program for the next three years.
Highlighting the Congress was a visit by George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States. President Bush attended the Chairman’s Banquet and was presented the Peter J. O’Malley Distinguished Little League Ambassador Award by Stephen D. Keener, Little League International President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. O’Malley is the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and a trustee of the Little League Foundation.
For eight years, President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush invited Little Leaguers to the White House for a series of Tee Ball on the South Lawn games, as a way to increase interest in baseball among young families. The President attended all 20 games, and at the end of each game, he personally presented an autographed baseball to the players and coaches.
This is not the first time Little League International has recognized the former President, who played in the Midland (Texas) Central Little League.
In 2009, Little League International renamed the Southwestern Region Headquarters in Waco, Texas, the George W. Bush Little League Leadership Training Center.
Nearly 10 years ago, before the 2001 Little League Baseball World Series Championship game, then-President Bush was enshrined in the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum Hall of Excellence. President Bush traveled to South Williamsport, Pa., to accept the honor on the field at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
President Bush joins his father, as a recipient of the Distinguished Little League Ambassador Award. George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, was honored in 1995, during the 20th International Congress in Reno, Nev.
Also recognized at the Chairman’s Banquet, the final formal event of the Congress, were John Chadwick (Chairman’s Award); Paul Flanagan (Peter J. McGovern Distinguished Service Award) and Paul Gray (President’s Award). John Saunders, host of ESPN’s “Sports Reporters,” served as Master of Ceremonies.
Mr. Chadwick, Director of the Junior Softball World Series Tournament, served as a District Administrator for 30 years and served on the Little League International Board from 1989-91. He also was a coach for six years, managed for six years and served three years as a local league president.
Paul Flanagan first volunteered in Little League as a way of supporting his children’s local league. He managed in the Junior Softball division, and also served as an umpire, league president, assistant district administrator, district administrator.
Currently, Mr. Flanagan holds a seat on the Little League International Board of Directors, providing valuable counsel and opinion. He also is a member of the Little League World Series Welcome Committee, the Southeastern Region Advisory Board, and was instrumental in the relocation of the Southeastern Region Center to Warner Robins, Ga.
Paul Gray is the Big League Softball World Series Assistant Tournament Director. He is a former manager, local board member and league president for West Portage Little League in Michigan District 2.
Kalamazoo, Michigan, has been the destination for aspiring Little League Softball players from around the world, as host of the Little League Softball World Series from 1980 to 1993; then the Senior League Softball World Series from 1980 to 1999; and now Big League Softball World Series for the past 16 years. For the past 30 years, Mr. Gray has played an integral role in making those tournaments successful.
Voting on the 19-item Congress agenda yielded 10 new rules and regulations. The complete voting results, as well as approved dates of implementation, can be found here.
Beyond the business of discussing, amending and voting on the proposed changes to Little League’s rules and regulations, delegates had the opportunity to meet with Little League staff members, attend a series of educational training sessions, and recognize fellow volunteers at several special events.
During regional meetings conducted at Congress, delegates from Little League’s Southwestern, Central, and Latin America regions each nominated a field director become a member of on the Little League International Board of Directors.
The field directors are: Jose Berrios (Latin America Region, Puerto Rico District 4); Linda Sanfilippo (Central Region, Illinois District 11); and Camilla Serrano (Southwestern Region, New Mexico District 5). Mrs. Serrano and Mrs. Sanfilippo are the first female field directors from the United States to be nominated for seats on the Board.
The three new members were approved at the Congress and will formally assume their seats at the Board of Directors meeting in November.
Pins acknowledging years of service also were presented to District Administrators and Assistant District Administrators during the regional meetings.
At the District Volunteer Recognition Luncheon, 50-year volunteers George Berardi and Reuben Hill were honored with special tributes.
Mr. Berardi has been the Massachusetts District 13 Administrator for more than five decades. He also has volunteered as a coach for three years, a manager for two years, Assistant District Administrator for four years, Umpire-in-Chief, and Massachusetts State Director.
In 1992, he served as Chairman of the 1992 Little League International Congress in Boston, and was a member of the Little League International Board of Directors.
Mr. Hill has volunteered in a many capacities over his 50 years. A District Administrator from Florida, he has served on the Little League International Board of Directors and the President’s Advisory Board, and he assisted in the development of the “Year on the Life of Hometown Little League” presentation that is used today at Little League’s Regional Centers and clinics.
Recipient of the President’s Award at the 1989 Congress in Williamsport, Pa., Mr. Hill was instrumental in the success of the Senior League Baseball World Series during its 16 years in Kissimmee, Fla., and he is still mentoring Little League Volunteers as a member of the Florida District Administrators Association.
Other District Administrators (DAs) and Assistant District Administrators (ADAs) also were recognized for effort and commitment on behalf of their leagues. See a related story on the recipients here.
Throughout the Congress, a series of training sessions conducted by Little League International and Regional staff provided a forum to educate and inform DAs and ADAs on the latest policies and procedures that operate the world’s largest organized youth sports program.
As part of the training sessions, Dr. James R. Andrews, M.D., a member of the Little League International Board of Directors, and Dr. Glenn Fleisig, Ph.D., two of the world’s foremost authorities on pitching injuries, offered their expert insight during their presentation of, “The Science Behind Youth Pitching Rules and Injury Prevention.”
Dr. Darrell Burnett, a child psychologist and also a member of the Little League International Board of Directors, presented “Building a Youth Sports Philosophy.”
The Congress Co-Chairmen were John Roll and W.O (Bill) Bradley. Mr. Roll, Kentucky District 1 Administrator for the past 20 years, is a member of the Little League International Board of Directors. Mr. Bradley has served as Kentucky District 3 Administrator for the past 25 years.
A host site for the 26th Little League International Congress will be determined in the coming months.