Bridge Re-Named for Little League Founder Carl Stotz
A bridge on the Susquehanna River, previously called the Market Street Bridge, was formally re-named for Carl E. Stotz, the late founder of Little League, this morning in a ceremony on the south end of the span.
The Carl E. Stotz Memorial Little League Bridge is part of U.S. Highway 15, a main north-south thoroughfare in North-Central Pennsylvania. It connects the city of Williamsport, where the first Little League game was played more than 72 years ago, and the borough of South Williamsport, where the Little League Baseball World Series is played.
Karen Stotz Myers and Monya Lee Stotz Adkins, daughters of Mrs. Stotz, and several members of the Stotz family, were on hand for the ceremony. Speaking at the event were Pennsylvania State Senator Gene Yaw (23rd District), who introduced the legislation that resulted in the renaming, Rebecca Burke (Chairperson of the Lycoming County Commission), Gabe Campana (Mayor of Williamsport), Ben Landon (South Williamsport Borough Councilman), and Steve Keener (President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball). The master of ceremonies was Gabe Sinicropi, Vice President of the Class A (Short Season) Williamsport Crosscutters and Little League Baseball World Series stadium announcer.
Mr. Stotz hit upon the idea of Little League in 1938, as a program for his nephews and other boys in Williamsport. He experimented with base and pitching distances that summer, then recruited other volunteers and formed the first three teams the following spring: Lycoming Dairy, Lundy Lumber, and Jumbo Pretzel.
Five players from those first three teams also attended the ceremony: Bill Bair, Dick Hauser, Dave Hinman, Thomas “Tuck” Frazier, and Allen “Sonny” Yearick. Mr. Bair would win Little League’s first batting title in 1939, and Mr. Yearick went on to become the first Little Leaguer to play professional baseball, in the Boston Braves organization.
The first Board of Directors of Little League, recruited by Mr. Stotz and constituted at a March 7, 1940 meeting, consisted of three couples: Mr. Stotz and his wife Grayce, and brothers George and Bert Bebble and their wives Annabelle and Eloise, respectively. A few days later, John Lindemuth and his wife Peggy joined the Board.
The first game was played on June 6, 1939. From those humble beginnings more than seven decades ago, Little League has grown to boast more than 2.5 million players in all 50 U.S. states and 85 other countries. It is estimated that more than 30 million boys and girls worldwide have played Little League. The program now includes baseball and softball divisions for children ages 4 to 18, as well as the Challenger Division for mentally and physically disabled children.
Members of the Stotz family in attendance were (left to right): Monya Lee Stotz Adkins, Jim Myers, Karen Stotz Myers, Aleisha Myers, Joel Myers, Natasha Osborne, and Aria Myers.
Steve Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, addresses a crowd of about 75 that attended the bridge re-naming ceremony. In background are, left to right, Gene Yaw (Pennsylvania State Senator), Karen Stotz Myers (daughter of Little League founder Carl Stotz), and Gabe Sinicropi (Vice President of the Williamsport Crosscutters and Little League Baseball World Series stadium announcer).