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Little League Remembers JFK

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Nov. 17, 2003) – Forty years after he was felled by an assassin, Little League Baseball pauses this week to remember President John F. Kennedy.

“Although today’s Little Leaguers were born long after President Kennedy served, we all can still remember his dedication to the ideals we share,” said Stephen D. Keener, president and chief executive officer of Little League Baseball. “He was a great friend of Little League.”

President Kennedy regularly invited all of the Little League Baseball World Series teams to the White House after the tournament ended. In 1962, he issued a proclamation naming the second week in June as "National Little League Baseball Week," echoing a similar proclamation made three years earlier by his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

President Kennedy’s fondness for Little League extended to his cabinet as well. Two of its members were Little League volunteers before being called to serve. Secretary of State Dean Rusk had been a Little League coach in Scarsdale, N.Y., and was described in Life magazine as “an efficient and persuasive man who took time off from the Presidency of the Rockefeller Foundation to coach Little League Baseball.” And Press Secretary Pierre Salinger was a volunteer umpire in Bailey’s Crossroads Little League of Falls Church, Va., before being added to the President’s team.