Pieces of Our Past: October Week 4
Digging for Gold: Ceremonial Shovel Commemorates Little League Urban Initiative
In the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum a golden shovel symbolizes the early beginnings of what is now the Little League Urban Initiative.
The shovel was used to break ground on April, 13, 1996 during a ceremony in Los Angeles for the first Conrad N. Hilton Little League Field.
Following the events of the Los Angeles Riots, several members of the Little League International Board of Directors met to discuss what role the organization could play in helping “Rebuild L.A,” an initiative taken on by the city of Los Angeles.
Through a generous donation by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, enough money was afforded to build one baseball field with the hope of building four more. Partners including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Sports and SportsOne Development, along with Little League Baseball and Softball, helped to provide funding for the additional fields.
The new diamonds became known as the “Fields of Hope.” Development of these fields provided the basis for Little League to re-establish programs in South Los Angeles.
The Little League Urban Initiative was developed in 1999, under the earlier moniker of Little League’s Inner-City Initiative. The division was created to address the declining number of children participating in Little League in various urban areas. What started in just New York and Los Angeles now has to more than 200 leagues operating in nearly 85 cities. The Little League Urban Initiative works to aid local leagues with grants, field development and access to the proper league training programs. Through the 2009 Little League season, the Little League Urban Initiative has stimulated the participation of 3,901 teams, which equates to approximately 51,000 players, and has participated in nearly 30 field renovation/development projects.
This research was made possible through a General Operating Support Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
The Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, 525 Route 15 Highway, just south of Williamsport, is open for its winter hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and by group appointment. Its hours will expand in the spring. Please call (570) 326-3607 for updated information or check online at www.LittleLeague.org/museum. 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 throughout the year.
The Museum is closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days.