A Piece of the Past - April 2006
The misinterpretation of an emblem carried by early Little Leaguers in a Williamsport parade on Memorial Day in 1942 resulted in a change in its shape.
Team members carried the banner, a large cutout of an eagle with the words “Little League Baseball for Boys” lettered on the wings. Created by Little League founder Carl E. Stotz, the design confused members of the public who thought the group was the “Little Eagles.”
Mr. Stotz was quoted: “… I had the boys marching in the parade and I made one of those eagles. After it was over, at least one of my friends said, ‘Gee I sure like those Little Eagles.’ That was the thing that made me think we need a different seal than that.”
Mr. Stotz designed several new logos and settled on one that combined a baseball diamond, a U.S. flag, and a keystone shape to represent Pennsylvania the “Keystone State,” the state in which Little League was founded by him in 1939. The emblem included the words “Character,” “Courage” and “Manhood” in the rim of an outer circle.
Although the keystone remains Little League’s most recognized symbol, an active oval logo with a batter has been used since 2003. A companion logo for softball, depicting a girl throwing a softball, went into use this spring. (See the story here.)
Included in the Founder’s Room at the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum in South Williamsport, Pa., is one of the symbols used in 1939. It is in the first display case in the room which includes other significant memorabilia – photographs of Mr. Stotz and the first teams.Serving as a backdrop to the display is an early version of the keystone logo.
The logo was not the only thing Mr. Stotz came up with. He determined the distances between the bases and from home plate to the pitcher’s plate, as well as the name “Little League” itself.
Mr. Stotz had sought advice from Bob Steinhipler, the sports editor of the Williamsport Sun, and Bill Kehoe, the sports editor of the Grit newspaper. Mr. Stotz initially considered calling the program Junior League, but found out there was a woman’s organization by that name.
“I wanted it to be just like the big leagues, but for the little boys. So I was thinking maybe “Little League,” Mr. Stotz explained, saying he saw something in Kehoe’s face when he proposed the name.
Information about the new league spread mostly by word of mouth until the Williamsport Sun ran an article about it. That article, appearing in the June 7, 1939, issue, also is on display in the Founder’s Room.
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.