George W. Bush to Be Honored at Little League Congress Event
George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, will be the honored guest at the 25th International Congress’s capstone event—the Chairman’s Banquet, Monday, March 15, at the Lexington (Ky.) Convention Center.
“Little League is tremendously honored to welcome President Bush to the International Congress,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League International, said. “President Bush is the first Little League graduate to be elected President of the United States, and on several occasions during his time in office he championed the mission of the Little League program, highlighted by his hosting of 20 Tee Ball on the South Lawn games. The former President and his family’s belief in the ideals of Little League make him a worthy and well-deserving recipient of the Peter O’Malley Distinguished Little League Ambassador Award.”
President Bush joins his father, as a recipient of the Distinguished Little League Ambassador Award. George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, was honored in 1995, during the 20th International Congress in Reno, Nev.
This is not the first time Little League International has recognized the former President, who played in the Midland (Texas) Central Little League.
In 2009, Little League International renamed the Southwestern Region Headquarters in Waco, Texas, the George W. Bush Little League Leadership Training Center.
Nearly 10 years ago, before the 2001 Little League Baseball World Series Championship game, then-President Bush was enshrined in the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum Hall of Excellence. President Bush traveled to Williamsport, Pa., to accept the honor on the field at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
“For all the moms and dads who take special time out of their lives to make sure their kids are able to play the great sport of baseball, thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” President Bush said during the enshrinement ceremony. “You prioritize your family, and that’s crucial for a healthy world, to make sure our families remain strong. I equate Little League Baseball with good families.”
“It's an honor to receive this award from such a fabulous organization as Little League Baseball. And on behalf of the Presidency, thank you for what you do.”
For eight years, President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush invited Little Leaguers to the White House for a series of Tee Ball on the South Lawn games, as a way to increase interest in baseball among young families. The President attended all 20 games, and at the end of each game, he personally presented an autographed baseball to the players and coaches.
“From his childhood, to his time in the business world, as the Governor of Texas, and later, the Presidency, President Bush has appreciated the benefits of participation in the Little League program,” Dennis Lewin, Chairman of the Little League International Board of Directors, said. “He understands the leadership training aspects of Little League, and the far-reaching, positive impact that local leagues and volunteers have on communities around the world. We are proud and deeply honored that the former President has agreed to join us in Lexington.”
The Bush family’s involvement with Little League traces its history to the 1950s, when President Bush’s father, then a businessman in Midland, helped coach his son’s Little League teams. The President’s mother, Barbara, drove players to and from Little League games and practices, and was a scorekeeper. Mrs. Bush was also chiefly responsible for taking the early Little League photos of the future President in his uniform and practicing the game he has continued to love and support so actively throughout his adult life.
Former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush also were honored in 1988 with the creation of the George and Barbara Bush Little League Parents of the Year Award. Each year at the Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., Little League International presents the award to the parents of a Little League graduate currently playing Major League Baseball.
Tickets for the Chairman’s Banquet will be available only to those people who have registered to attend Little League’s International Congress. Tickets are not available to the general public.
Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with nearly 2.6 million players and 1 million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries.
In pre-game ceremonies for a Tee Ball game in 2007, President Bush places the first ball on the tee, with the assistance of Little League Challenger Division player Meredith Cripe. At left is the honorary commissioner for the game, two-time Olympic softball gold medalist Michele Smith.
After each Tee Ball on the South Lawn game, the players received a baseball autographed by the President. With President Bush for this Urban Initiative game between teams from Newark, N.J., and Chicago, is former Cincinnati Reds star Barry Larkin.
President Bush also made it a point to meet with Little League World Series champions. Here, he meets with the Mattawan (Mich.) Little League team that won the 2006 Little League Softball World Series.