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A Piece of the Past - January 2006

Little League "Firsts"

Who hit the first homerun during Little League Baseball World Series play?

Who was the first winning pitcher in the World Series?

Who was the first player to pitch a perfect game?

Answers to these and other important questions can be found at the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum in South Williamsport, Pa.

Although Little League began in 1939, the first championship tournament was played in 1947 across the Susquehanna River at what is now known as the Original League Field along West Fourth Street in Williamsport.

The 1947 series was called the National Little League Tournament and featured 11 teams – all from within the United States. It became the World Series two years later through the hard work of Carl Stotz, Little League’s commissioner and founder, and many others in the greater Williamsport/Lycoming County area.

The original scorebook containing the first three years of series play is among the artifacts and memorabilia on display in the Founder’s Room of the museum.

The first homerun was hit by Jim Gardner, a member of the Williamsport Little League team, during the first tournament game on Thursday, August 21, 1947.

When the Williamsport Little League team upset the Sunday School League (Williamsport) 15-1, the winning pitcher was Bill Avery.

The 1947 tournament was won by Maynard Midgets team, which defeated the Lock Haven All Stars 16-7.

The best game of the tournament came in the semifinal round as the Maynard defeated the Lincoln League Stars 2-1. In that game, Don Stover struck out nineteen batters in ten innings (four extra innings for a Little League game). Because Little League pitchers were later limited to nine innings in tournament games, and later six innings, Stover’s record – the most strikeouts in ten innings – will likely stand forever.

The first perfect game during series play was pitched in 1956 by Fred Shapiro, a member of the Delaware Township, New Jersey, team.

The museum, 525 Route 15 Highway, South Williamsport, is open from Labor Day through Memorial Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. The museum is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays by appointment only during its winter hours. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The facility is accessible to the disabled.

Rates are $5 for adults, $3 for those 62 and older, and $1.50 for children between the ages of 5 and 13. There is no fee for children 4 or younger. For more information, call the museum at 570-326-3607, or click here for more information. 

The official scorebook from the first three Little League Baseball World Series tournaments is just one of the many artifacts on display at the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum.