With its signature 60-foot base paths, iconic green wooden outfield fence and park benches welcoming spectators to stop and catch a game, Carl E. Stotz Field at Memorial Park in Williamsport, Pa., has become known as, “The birth place of Little League Baseball®.”
Since the second season of Little League® opened on June 3, 1940, Carl E. Stotz Field has affectionately been known to Williamsporters as Original Field. It is a place of joy and civic pride for the townspeople, a shrine to youth baseball for the rest of the world, and recently it received the distinction of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
"On behalf of Original League, I am delighted that our field was nominated for this great achievement," said Jim McKinney, President of Original League. "A lot of hard work on and off the field, has been put into maintaining the rich history that started here. Volunteers past and present have made this a historic day for Carl Stotz. It is a privilege to be part of this organization."
The Pennsylvania History Code empowers the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to compile, maintain, revise and publish a selected inventory of significant historic resources in the Commonwealth, to be known as the Pennsylvania Register of Historic Places, pursuant to criteria of significance approved by the Commission.
“Original Field is where the Little League dream began and we are proud that the National Register of Historic Places has chosen to honor Carl Stotz and his idea in this way,” said Stephen D. Keener, President and CEO of Little League Baseball and Softball. “The social cornerstone that Little League has become in thousands of communities and the life lessons learned by millions of children were made possible by the games that were played on this tiny field. For generations, Little League’s intrepid history and proud legacy have been etched with every cleat mark, ball fielded, and slide made on Original Field.”
The diminutive baseball diamond, located on Fourth Street on the West end of town, is nestled into a corner of Max V. Brown Memorial Park and played host to the first 12 Little League Baseball World Series (1947-1958).
The property that became Original Field needed extensive improvements before the first pitch could be thrown. Mr. Stotz, his fellow volunteers and several players, who later would make a lifetime’s worth of memories between its lines, turned a wooded and weed-filled plot of ground into their field of dreams.
In an excerpt from Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball, John Lundy, of the Lundy Construction Company, one of the first three original sponsors of Little League, is quoted as saying, “My recollection is that (Little League) didn’t become real popular until it moved into Memorial Park ... into the public eye where more people could see it.”
Additions to the field at Max M. Brown Memorial Park turned the place into a shrine to youth baseball. Mac McCloskey and Bert Haag, developed the first electronic scoreboard; and Bob Stout, a Williamsport Technical Institute student, set up an amplifier system so he could announce the names of each player as they came to bat. Volunteers built a clubhouse behind the backstop, as well as dugouts and more seating areas to accommodate larger crowds.
Mr. Haag is the only living member of the Founder's Group, which was a collection of volunteers that were organized by Mr. Stotz to start the development of Little League. “These men helped to pave the way for what Little League has become,” said Mr. McKinney.
In 1940, the local program created by Mr. Stotz was named “Original Little League.” Before the 1956 season the program was renamed “Original League,” and today Original Field remains the program's base of operations.
The National Register of Historic Places was established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, and is maintained by the National Park Service (NPS). In Pennsylvania, the Bureau for Historic Preservation (BHP), acting as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), manages the National Register program. The SHPO, in this role, evaluates National Register eligibility; makes the official nomination of resources to the National Register of Historic Places; provides information on historic properties, including National Register and National Historic Landmark listings; provides guidance on conducting architectural and historic surveys; and technical assistance to preparers of National Register nominations.