Pieces of Our Past: April Week 1
Tee Ball on the South Lawn All-Star Game Immortalized Through Unique Card Set
Baseball cards of 51 Tee Ball players from each state in the United States and the District of Columbia claim a place of importance in the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum in Williamsport, Pa.
Cards of the players who participated in two one-inning games as part of four All-Star teams invited to play on the South Lawn of the White House on July 16, 2008, join the cards featuring President George W. Bush and baseball great Nolan Ryan as Little Leaguers.
The framed collection includes a baseball card of President Bush in his Midland Central Little League uniform, and of Mr. Ryan who played on the Alvin Little League. Both leagues were in Texas.
Three of the sets containing 53 cards were framed. One was given to President Bush, one hangs in the Museum and the other is to be hung in Little League International Administration Building when its construction project is finished this spring.
In all, there were 83 complete decks of cards in the first issue. More than half of those decks were given to the President and senior White House Staff. The remaining decks are in the Museum or were given to Little League Baseball and Softball officials and guests attending the game. They are not for sale.
Each youngster received cards of the President and Mr. Ryan and several of his or her own cards for trading. Additionally, the players were permitted to print a second issue of any of the 51 Tee Ball player cards.
Each Tee Ball player’s card boasts a photo of the child in his or her uniform while the back of the card lists the player’s name, league, position and whether they throw or bat right handed or left handed. In addition, there is a quote about the player authored by the person who nominated the player to attend the games.
Information on the back of Mr. Bush’s card lists him as a catcher. “He is out for Little League, so eager. He tries so very hard. He has good fast hands and even seems to be able to hit a little,” his father George H.W. Bush is quoted as writing in a 1955 letter.
Mr. Ryan’s position as a Little Leaguer was pitcher. The quote on the back of his card is by the Major League Baseball player himself and reads “Little League was a great period in my life. We never won a championship, but we tried real hard. I guess that’s what Little League is about – trying.”
Unfortunately Mr. Ryan was unable to attend the game; however, National Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson graciously took his place as honorary commissioner.
A selection panel at Little League International reviewed hundreds of entries from around the country to select the players have the opportunity go to Washington, D.C. Each entry was accompanied by an essay from the player’s coach, league president, teacher or school principal, giving the person’s reasons for making the recommendation. Little League’s Tee Ball division is for players who are ages 5 to 7 and has about 800,000 participants in the United States.
In keeping with the tradition of Tee Ball on the South Lawn games, no score was kept and every player on the four teams played on defense and batted once.
The game was the first All-Star Tee Ball event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. It was the 19th Tee Ball event played on the South Lawn of the White House since May 6, 2001. The initiative was started by President Bush to boost interest in youth sports among children and parents.
There is no indication that the program will continue in 2009.
A list of the players participating in the America’s Games can be found at http://www.littleleague.org/media/TeeBall_Trading_Cards_08.htm.
Additional photographs taken that day can be found at http://www.littleleague.org/media/newsarchive/2008stories/Tbosl_All-Star_Game_wrap-up.htm.
The Museum is located at 525 Route 15 Highway, just south of Williamsport, and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and by group appointment from Labor Day through Memorial Day. Its summer season begins after Memorial Day and the Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday through June 31. 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. 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.
For more information, call the museum at (570) 326-3607; or visit http://www.LittleLeague.org/Learn_More/museum.htm.