A Piece of the Past - September 2006
A lifesize Dugout greets visitors to the “Play it Safe” room in the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum.
Tens of thousands of spectators at the Little League World Series are entertained each year by the antics of Little League’s lovable mascot, “Dugout,” since being introduced more than 20 years ago. The furry creature has brought smiles and laughter to a generation of Little League players and spectators, on and off the field, as well as on television.
One of Dugout’s original costumes is on display at the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum in South Williamsport.
The Disney Corporation created Dugout, who debuted at the 1985 Little League World Series. Disney was selected because its founder, Walt Disney, had served on the Little League Foundation board of trustees for nine years, and Little League officials maintained close ties with Disney management following his death in 1967.
One of the closest of those ties is Barton K. (Bo) Boyd, chairman of Disney Consumer Products. Mr. Boyd, also a former trustee of the Little League Foundation, was a key element in Dugout’s creation.
Aspects of Dugout’s appearance were influenced in part by Disney characters from “Winnie the Pooh” and “Lady and the Tramp.” Part beaver, part gopher and part chipmunk, Dugout was selected from other potential mascot concepts, including frogs, cats, dogs and roosters.
For 10 of the last 22 seasons, a South Williamsport, Pa., resident has “suited up” as Dugout during Little League Baseball World Series games and other activities.
As is traditional with Disney characters, she will remain anonymous in Little League publications and on the Little League web site. So, for this Little Leaguer e-news story, we’ll call her “Miss K.”
When inside the costume, Miss K said she feels like a star.
“This job allows me to act silly, funny, goofy and cool,” she said. When the costume comes off, “I am just a normal, average person,” she added.
As Dugout, Miss K has posed for photographs, signed autographs and shaken hands with innumerable visitors to the series. Spectators of all ages have received hugs and returned smiles to Dugout, which Miss K considers the best “perk” of the job.
“To put a smile on someone’s face no matter what the age or gender is the greatest feeling,” she said.
Miss K explained that most of Dugout’s appearances are made during warm summer days so lots of energy and sweat go into it, making the job a workout.
“I guess all of those years of cheerleading, dance and gymnastics paid off,” she said.
Dugout also occasionally shows up in “costume,” as Elvis, a surfer dude, a clown, a disco dancer, Uncle Sam, and an umpire, among others. In fact, Dugout is such a celebrity that “bodyguard” Craig Hoover helps ensure that the mascot gets around in a timely fashion during the Series. Dugout has met numerous celebrities, including Kevin Costner, Kenny Rogers, President George W. Bush, and many professional baseball players.
Dugout makes public appearances off site throughout the year and, when requested, stops by for birthday parties and other events at the museum.
The Dugout costume now on display at the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum was retired last year. Visitors entering the museum’s “Play it Safe” Room are greeted by the smiling and waving mascot standing behind the Dr. Creighton Hale International Grove fence.
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. Group rates and tours are available. For more information, call the museum at 570-326-3607, or click here for more information.
Dugout leads two Little League Baseball World Series teams in a pre-game dance.