Pieces of Our Past: February Week 4
Howard J. Lamade Memorial Field Celebrating 50th Anniversary in 2009
The history of the original Little League Baseball stadium is documented at the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, located on the Little League International complex, along Route 15 just south of Williamsport, Pa.
Plans for development of the original Howard J. Lamade stadium field site (in 1958) came from a student project at Pennsylvania State University – not an architectural firm.
Tractors, steam shovels and graders supplied by the Williamsport Technical Institute, now the Pennsylvania College of Technology, were operated by students who cleared the land in South Williamsport, moving tons of earth and rocks.
Years earlier, Bald Eagle Mountain had been gouged by earthmoving equipment as part of the construction project that built flood-protecting dikes along the Western Branch of the Susquehanna River. The West Branch of the Susquehanna separates the city of Williamsport from the borough of South Williamsport.
Although a late thaw meant that construction could not begin until mid-April 1959 and there were only four months of construction time until the World Series, the project came together.
Local Little League volunteers, businesses and individuals donated funds as well as much of the equipment, materials and services.
When the teams arrived for the 13th Little League Baseball World Series, a stadium seating 7,000, with dugouts and a large parking area were ready to welcome fans from far and near.
“The field was manicured as well as any other major-league park,” according to a 1959 article published in the Williamsport (Pa.) Sun-Gazette.
The original Little League field in South Williamsport – Howard J. Lamade Memorial Field - was laid out with simple fencing and wooden bleachers. The field, and later the stadium’s, namesake was President of the Grit Publishing Company. Mr. Lamade was a member of the Little League Board of Directors from 1951 until his death in 1958.
The playing facility was renamed Howard J. Lamade Stadium when the old wood and steel stands were razed and the current concrete stadium was constructed in 1968.
In 1960, Little League acquired more land and proceeded to construct bunkhouses for the eight World Series team and also built the first Little League administration building. The administration building – also known as Little League Headquarters - has undergone previous renovations. Currently, the building is in the final stages of a major renovation which includes the addition of 14,000 square feet of office and meeting space.
Photographs of the field and administration building construction projects are included as part of the museum’s archival collection, just as photographs of the current construction will be.
The Museum, 525 Route 15 Highway, just south of Williamsport, 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.