Pieces of Our Past: January Week 4
Magazine Article Transforms Little League from Small-Town Curiosity to National Obsession
In Sullivan County, Pa., about 25 miles northeast of Williamsport, Little League Baseball experienced a milestone event in 1948.
Little League gained national attention in this remote location when E.H. Brandt, a senior editor for the Saturday Evening Post attended an exhibition game that was meant to spur interest in the small town of Dushore.
Guy Baldwin, an organizer of a new Little League in Sullivan County, requested Carl E. Stotz, the founder of Little League, bring a team from Williamsport to play a game against local boys.
Mr. Brandt, who was vacationing nearby, was invited by Mr. Baldwin’s wife, Peg, to attend the exhibition. He was so impressed with the event that he assigned a writer and a photographer to attend the national tournament and tell the Little League story.
The result was an article titled “Small Boy’s Dream Come True,” which appeared in the May 14, 1949, issue of the Post. Writer Harry Paxton wrote, “Already the idea had captivated thousands of boys and men in hundreds of communities. This is probably only the beginning.”
Along with Saturday Evening Post photographer Bill Strout’s pictures, the story exposed more than four million subscribers to Little League. Deluged by inquiries, Mr. Stotz later said that no other promotional influence was as important in Little League’s history.
From 1949 until 1953, the number of leagues doubled every year.
The article, and other issues of the Post and magazines like Harper’s Weekly, Collier’s: The National Weekly and Farm and Home are among the periodicals in the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum’s collection.
The article and magazines featuring youth baseball players on their covers are on display next to the Gallery of Achievement.
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 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday by group appointment from Labor Day through Memorial Day. Its summer season begins Memorial Day and the Museum 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. 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.