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Pieces of Our Past: November Week 4

Pieces of Our Past: November Week 4

Guamanians Proud of Little League Heritage


Baseball – particularly Little League Baseball – is steeped in Guam’s proud heritage.

So much so, that when the team from Southern Guam Little League advanced to the 2008 Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa., representing the Asia-Pacific Region champions, the contingent brought items for inclusion in the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum.

Bill Sarmiento, of Santa Rita, Guam, President of the league, donated the nation’s Coat of Arms carved in ifilwood to the museum in honor of the baseball program in Guam. The carving plus reproductions of four photographs on display in the Guam Museum featuring baseball teams in the early 1900s were added to the museum’s collection of artifacts from Guam.

The presence of Little League on the U.S. island territory, located southwest of Hawaii in a group of islands known as Micronesia, has steadily grown since the first league - Northern Guam Little League - was chartered in 1990. Central Guam Little League was chartered in 1991 and the Southern Guam Little League followed in 2001.

In 2005, the government approved the transfer of 26 acres of land in the municipality of Dededo to Guam Little League Baseball, Inc., for the purpose of constructing a stadium for the Asia-Pacific championships. The island measures 209 square miles and with a population of more than 173,000.

According to the legislation, the approval was granted because “participation by the youths of Guam in Little League baseball has brought tremendous worldwide exposure for Guam. The ability of our youth to succeed in baseball has allowed us to host tournaments with participants coming from our neighboring countries who are also the main source for our tourist industry.

“With our Little League All-Stars winning the Regional Tournament in
2001 and 2002 it allowed them to travel to Williamsport, Pa., and participate in the International Division of the Little League World Series. The pride and exuberance that captivated everyone on our island while watching them play on live television through the ESPN cable network is an experience that would not be forgotten.

“An alumnus of Guam Little League and Guam Major League, John Hattig Jr., not only plays for the Toronto Blue Jays' Class AAA affiliate Syracuse Sky chiefs but John also has been selected by Major League Operations and the Major League Scouting Bureau to play on the World Team, that will challenge the United States team as part of Major League Baseball's 76th All-Star Game in Detroit, Michigan. John also has the opportunity to become the first Guamanian to play in the Major Leagues,” the Legislature included in the 2005 document.

The Ifilwood carving bearing the word Guam is almond-shaped and depicts a vessel known as a proa sailing in Agana Bay near the capital of Hagåtña. The shape also represents the slingshot stones used by the islanders’ ancestors. A visible landform represents the Puntan Dos Amantes cliff and a coconut tree, which is known as “the tree of life.” It is growing in infertile sand, symbolizing the self-sustenance and determination to grow and survive under any circumstances.

Ifilwood is one of the most valued timbers throughout Southeast Asia. It is stronger than teak and is one of the most decay-resistant timbers when not in contact with the ground. Known as ifit by the Chamorro people, the indigenous people of Guam, it symbolically represents their courage and stamina. They used the wood for everything from tools to houses.

The photographs are of baseball at the Plaza de Espana; the Guam Naval Station Baseball team; the Agana Cubs receiving a trophy; and the Department of Education Baseball Team with Gov. Willis Bradley.

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. After Labor Day in September, the hours change to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. 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. The museum also offers birthday parties and after-hours facility rentals.

The museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days.

For more information, call the museum at (570) 326-3607; or visit http://www.littleleague.org/Learn_More/museum.htm.