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A Piece of the Past - August 2006

Two Special Caps

As organized youth sports programs have become an established part of contemporary American life, the concept of appropriately sized uniforms for young athletes has become commonplace. While today’s participants in Little League Baseball wear uniforms and use equipment not unlike those used by their professional counterparts, such was not always the case.

Little League founder Carl E. Stotz introduced genuine uniforms for Little Leaguers with the in 1939.

A small, blue Lycoming Dairy baseball cap on display in the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum Founder’s Room bears witness to the pride and excitement that youth-sized baseball uniforms have provided for millions of children worldwide.

In stark contrast is a lime green and white bicycle hat with the word “Baseball” in black letters on the brim. Although not a traditional baseball uniform cap, it and others like it were worn by some of the first Little League players in Poland.

As the story goes, Little League equipment arrived in Poland in 1989 sans uniforms. That first year of play, before the Berlin Wall fell, team members proudly wore the converted bicycle hats. One of the hats is on display in the Founder’s Room.

In the beginning, however, Mr. Stotz was rejected by fifty-six local businesses before he finally received a pledge from Lycoming Dairy Farms to be an original Little League sponsor. The company continued to sponsor teams for many years.

Another of the first three sponsors, Lundy Lumber, holds the record for most years sponsoring a Little League team, having supported a local league every year since 1939.

The faded, well-worn blue cap with Lycoming Dairy’s white “L” on the front was worn by David Lesko, a catcher for the Original Little League Lycoming Dairy teams from 1953 to 1956. According to Mr. Lesko, the white “L” was taken home by each player to be sewn onto a baseball cap by a parent. Each of the four teams in the league wore a colored cap in blue, red, green and maroon. Each game was a memorable event for these players, complete with music, an announcer, and an electric scoreboard, Mr. Lesko said.

The pride taken in a team baseball cap extended beyond the Little League field. Mr. Lesko explained that the hats were worn daily during unorganized games outside Bowman Field, now the home of Williamsport’s Class A Minor League team, the Williamsport Crosscutters.

Players wore their caps to their elementary schools, and some even wore the caps into their junior high school years. A special bond of camaraderie formed among players and coaches alike through their experiences playing baseball together. The blue Lycoming Dairy cap symbolizes the pride and excitement of uniforms and organized baseball for Little Leaguers during the 1950s.

Even as Little League has grown to become an international phenomenon, the pride that millions of participants take in their uniforms remains the same worldwide. Today, almost all youth sports programs provide their players with some type of official uniform.

The Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, 525 Route 15 Highway, just south of Williamsport, is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The hours change from Labor Day through Memorial Day to 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 facility is accessible to the disabled.

Rates are $5 for adults; $3 for those 62 and older; $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.
This wool baseball cap was worn by a member of the Lycoming Dairy team at Original Little League in Williamsport, Pa., in the 1950s.
Not your traditional baseball cap, this was worn by a player on one of the first Little League teams in Poland in 1989.