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Ryan Howard: MVP On and Off the Field

Few professional athletes exhibit the traits Ryan Howard does on and off the baseball diamond: hard work, a positive attitude and sportsmanship, three qualities Little League instills in millions of youth around the world. The Philadelphia Phillies first baseman made a visit to the 2007 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., meeting with fans and players, signing autographs and telling stories of his life as a baseball player.

Mr. Howard recounted a particular story about hitting a home run during his Little League playing days for a nationally broadcast ESPN program from Howard J. Lamade Stadium. He remembered a mammoth home run when he was 11 or 12 years old that actually hit a favorite restaurant of his that was located well beyond the outfield fences. Not only did Mr. Howard call that shot his favorite personal home run of his life, he also joked that he did not even get a free dinner at the restaurant after the game finished.

Mr. Howard, born Nov. 19, 1979, in St. Louis, Mo., showed early signs of becoming a great baseball player and person. He played Little League throughout his childhood, then his hard work and dedication earned him the opportunity to play baseball for Southwest Missouri State University. Eventually he was drafted into the Phillies organization, earning his first call up in 2004.

Mr. Howard’s baseball résumé already boasts some of the biggest and best seasons for a rookie, a left-handed hitter and a first baseman. He won the 2005 Rookie of the Year award, hitting .268 with 22 home runs and 63 RBI in just half a season. The next season proved to be anything but a sophomore slump as he won the 2006 National League Most Valuable Player Award, batting .313 and a league-high 58 home runs and 149 RBI. In 2007; he became the youngest player to hit 100 home runs in Major League history, helping the Phillies win the National League East Division and earning the team their first playoff appearance since 1993.

The Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum now features an oversized poster of Ryan Howard on the cover of Little League Magazine (pictured above), along with his autograph. The signed poster accompanies various items from the 2007 Little League Baseball World Series, including signed baseballs from each of the 16 participating teams, baseballs autographed by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue and Little League’s newest inductees into the Museum Hall of Excellence, Pierre Turgeon and Dusty Baker. There’s also a baseball bat engraved with the names of all the players on the 2007 World Series Championship team from Warner Robins, Ga.

The Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, 525 Route 15 Highway, just south of Williamsport, is open 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 from Labor Day through Memorial Day and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. During the World Series, the museum is open for extended hours. 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, but not during the World Series. The museum also offers birthday parties and after-hours facility rentals at other times during the year.