Two District of Columbia Little League Tee Ball Teams Will Be First to Play on White House South Lawn
|Two players from the Capitol City Little League Rockies (Claire Devaney, left, and Corey Dirks) watch as former President George Bush and White House Head Usher Gary Walters discuss the Tee Ball field that was set up earlier in the day on May 3, 2001, on the South Lawn. Mr. Bush later fielded a few ground balls that Claire and Corey batted off the tee.|
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (April 25, 2001) - Two Little League Tee Ball teams from Washington, D.C., will be the first to play on the South Lawn of the White House, at the invitation of President George W. Bush, it was announced today by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
The first game, between teams of Satchel Paige Little League and Capitol City Little League, is scheduled for May 6 at 3 p.m.
"After we moved in, I pointed out to a great baseball fan, the First Lady, that we've got a pretty good-sized backyard here," President Bush said during a March 29 reception with most living members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. "And maybe with the help of some groundskeepers, we can play ball on the South Lawn. She agreed, just so long as I wasn't one of the players. So, for the next four seasons, we're going to invite kids here from the area to play Tee Ball on the South Lawn of the White House."
The team from the Satchel Paige Little League is called the Memphis Red Sox. There are seven Tee Ball teams in the Satchel Paige Little League and 10 teams in other divisions of baseball and softball. About 275 children and their families participate in the league. Satchel Paige Little League names its teams after the Negro League teams that flourished in the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century.
"This is a great opportunity for the children of our league," Keith Jones, the president of the Satchel Paige Little League, said. "It will create more awareness of our program and will be something the kids will never forget."
The other team, the Rockies, is one of eight Tee Ball teams in the Capitol City Little League, which includes 25 other teams. Approximately 400 children and their families make up the Capitol City Little League.
"Everyone is very excited about this," Ann Kane, president of Capitol City Little League, said. "The kids will have a lot of fun, and will help to give baseball a great boost in the D.C. area."
The White House has asked Little League Baseball International Headquarters to choose the teams and to administer the series of Tee Ball games. Several companies have donated equipment to Little League Baseball so that all the equipment necessary (except gloves, which will be those of the players) is available at each game, including fencing, bases, bats, baseballs, catcher's equipment, player benches and the batting tee. Little League will also provide numbered shirts for each player and a baseball cap, both of which the players will keep.
The companies donating the equipment to Little League are: Wilson Sporting Goods, Russell Athletic, New Era Cap, SportFence, and Easton.
"Little League is honored to take part in President Bush's initiative," Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball, said. "He is a lifelong baseball fan, and the first Little League graduate to become President, so it seems natural that he is opening up the backyard at the White House for such a fun, wholesome activity as a Tee Ball game. We are pleased to help out any way we can."
Mr. Keener said the two leagues were chosen because their league boundaries are within Washington, D.C., and after consultations with Little League volunteers in the area and Little League headquarters and regional staff.
The date for the next game at the White House has not been determined. After the May 6 game, Little League Baseball will announce the next two teams.
Little League Baseball is the world's largest organized youth sports program. Approximately 2.9 million children play Little League Baseball and Softball in all 50 U.S. states and 103 other countries, led by more than a million adult volunteers. For more information on Little League Baseball, visit www.littleleague.org.