Pieces of Our Past: June Week 1
Little League Is 70 Years Young: June is Little League’s Birthday Month
June 6, 1939, was a history-making day for Little League Baseball.
On that day, the first organized Little League game was played in Williamsport, Pa. It was at that point in history that the rural Central Pennsylvania town took on a new identity – The Home of Little League Baseball.
That first game was chronicled in the local Williamsport Sun newspaper, including a Major League-type box score. A copy of the sports page and the newspaper’s front page are prominently displayed in the Founder’s Room of the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum in South Williamsport, Pa.
According to the box score, it was a lopsided game with Lundy Lumber defeating Lycoming Dairy, 23-8. That score, however, did not set the tone for the remainder of the season. Lycoming Dairy finished with an 8-8 record; Lundy Lumber with a 9-7 record; and the third team, Jumbo Pretzel finished with a 7-9 record. In the season, 13 of 24 games were decided by two runs or less.
According to records, Frank Sipe delivered the first pitch and the Lycoming team scored the first run in the top of the first inning. The organization’s founder, Carl Stotz, was in charge of Lycoming Dairy; however, George Bebble’s Lundy Lumber team quickly overcame the deficit. Louie Brown was the first umpire, and he called balls and strikes from behind the pitcher.
It was an exciting event and the first time the teams appeared in uniform.
The first games were played at a community field adjacent to Historic Bowman Field, a professional minor league baseball stadium located in Fourth Street in Williamsport. Where home plate was now stands a statue of Mr. Stotz and two players.
Because the field was next to an abandoned trolley-car roadbed, cinders tended to wash onto the field whenever it rained. Therefore, Mr. Stotz scouted for a site that could be dedicated only to Little League players.
Each time he went to the field, Mr. Stotz passed an unused, overgrown lot at the corner of Memorial Avenue and Demorest Street. The property, owned by Williamsport Textile Company, needed extensive improvements but volunteers with Little League, players and a maintenance crew from the textile company persevered to build the new field that went into use in 1940.
Little Leaguers eventually moved to the field now known as Original Field. The National Memorial Tournament, forerunner to the Little League Baseball World Series, was played there until it moved to its current location in South Williamsport prior to the 1959 season.
The Little League Museum is located at 525 Route 15 Highway, just south of Williamsport and on the complex where the Little League Baseball World Series is played. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday through June 30. From July 1 through Labor Day, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. From Labor Day through Memorial Day, the Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, except by group appointment. 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 Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days.