Little League International Names Dieter Miller 2009 Good Sport of the Year
The Little League Good Sport Award annually recognizes a Little League player who has demonstrated superior qualities of sportsmanship, leadership, a commitment to teamwork and a desire to excel. Dieter Miller of Golden Hill Little League (GHLL) in Fullerton, Calif., has exemplified all of those qualities, and this August at the 2009 Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., he will be recognized with the Little League Good Sport of the Year Award.
“Being a good sport has little to do with talent or ability and everything to do with character and attitude,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “During this season, Dieter has shown that being a Little Leaguer is much more than wins and losses. The commitment and responsibility he has exhibited after suffering an injury was as valuable as any hit or catch he could have made in the field. It was that willingness to contribute in any way he could that proved to be the greater accomplishment.”
Dieter, 11, is the son of Rolf and Pamela Miller, and will be entering the sixth grade this fall at Hermosa Drive Elementary School. A Little League participant since he was a league-age six-year-old, Dieter is a catcher, third baseman and outfielder for the GHLL Minor Division Padres.
Breaking his arm during his team’s first scrimmage of the season, Dieter made the decision to help his team in other ways. He went to the league’s scorekeeping class, and while in a cast for the first two months of the season, kept the scorebook.
“Dieter was anticipating having a good season, so when he got hurt I encouraged him to stay involved with the team,” Mr. Miller said. “I spoke with his coach and asked him if there was anything that he could do? Coach Tony Mannara suggested scorekeeping and he was excited to try.”
Attending every game in uniform, Dieter arrived early along with the other players, gathered the lineups from both managers, and attended the pre-game umpires meeting. During the games, along with keeping score, he also was responsible for keeping the pitch count. Following the game, he provided his team’s manager with a game recap and notes for the team meeting.
“It was hard for me not to play, because I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Dieter said. “My coach told me to go to scorekeeper’s school, so I did. I’d keep score during the game and talked to the team after the game. I’d tell them stuff like, ‘I liked how we hit and how we cheered.’ Or, ‘We made a couple errors, but we can learn from that.’
“I’d liked to have my own Little League team to coach some day,” Dieter said.
Dieter’s mother said he was overwhelmed when his coach told him about the nomination letter he had written and the letter he received from Little League International stating he had been selected as this year’s Good Sport of the Year.
“Dieter Miller was a vital member of the team, proving that it takes more than on-field performance to succeed,” Tony Mannara, Vice President/Umpire-In-Chief of GHLL and Dieter’s coach for the last two seasons, said. “He is a fan favorite and the kind of kid you will never hear a bad word about. No one plays harder or with more enthusiasm or positive attitude then ‘Big D.’ Dieter is a stand-up young man, who embodies the true spirit of Little League, and is a noble and deserving recipient of the Good Sport Award.”
“He encouraged other players and that is his nature,” Mr. Miller said. “When Dieter found out about receiving the award he was a little embarrassed, but definitely surprised and excited. I still don’t think he realizes what he is stepping into - This is a tribute to him.”
“I felt like, ‘Oh, my gosh, is this really happening,’” Dieter said, when he found out that his family is going to Williamsport for the World Series. “I didn’t see this coming. It’s awesome!”
The Little League Good Sport Award Program was established in 1989 to amplify the importance of Little League as a leadership training program, utilizing baseball and softball as a vehicle for instilling in children valuable principles, while never figuring in the youngster’s playing ability or personal statistics.