Little League Board of Directors Profile: Dennis Lewin
After working weekends for much of his professional career, it would be easy to understand if Dennis Lewin would have wanted to occupy his time in retirement with activities that would allow him to make his own schedule.
While the longtime ABC Sports and National Football League executive is now able to decide what he does from day-to-day, Mr. Lewin felt his distinguished professional career did not allow him to volunteer some of his time for organizations he felt strongly about, particularly Little League.
“My decision to become involved with Little League International came about because of my desire to ‘give back’ for all the years I couldn’t volunteer because of my professional commitments,” Mr. Lewin, who has been the Chairman of the Little League International Board of Directors since November 2007, said. “Much of my work with ABC Sports and the NFL involved working weekends, taking away a lot of time that many people use for any volunteer work in which they are interested.”
The Little League International Board of Directors, a volunteer board, is responsible for the management of the property and affairs of Little League. The 25 members of the board are scheduled to meet three times a year as a group, in addition to various board committee meetings.
Like many adults who are Little League volunteers, Mr. Lewin’s connection with the world’s largest and most respected youth baseball organization dates back to his childhood in Forest Hills, N.Y., where he played in the Forest Hills Little League.
“Both of my parents were very involved in the coaching aspect within the league, and I loved every minute of my participation in the league from the camaraderie of being a part of a team to learning about sportsmanship,” Mr. Lewin, who also served as a Little League Foundation Trustee from 1986 until the Foundation was recently dissolved, said.
During the 30 years Mr. Lewin worked for ABC Sports, he served for 15 years as the Coordinating Producer of “ABC’s Wide World of Sports.” Part of the programming each summer for the award-winning show was the Little League Baseball World Series, where he became re-connected with the program.
“My heart was into the Little League program from the time I played, and later as a coach while I was in high school,” Mr. Lewin, who now resides in Wellington, Fla., said. “My respect for the program grew during the 30 years I was involved with the Little League Baseball World Series in various production roles at ABC Sports.” It was Mr. Lewin who innovated the use of a wireless camera on a home plate umpire’s mask (during the 1985 Little League Baseball World Series).
The first graduate of the Little League Baseball program to serve as the Chairman of the Little League International Board of Directors, Mr. Lewin feels there is more to the youth baseball organization than playing games.
“I believe one of the main reasons the organization is so highly respected is the fact Little League cares about each and every child. Our program is geared more to participation, fun and shared learning experiences than winning and losing.”
During his tenure as Chairman, Mr. Lewin has seen the organization continue to grow in many areas while continuing to be viewed as one of the leaders and trendsetters among youth sports organizations.
“I am proud to help bring Little League into the 21st century and of the steps that have been taken to get it to this point, especially those we have made, and continue to make, to ensure the safety of all Little League players and volunteers on and off the field” Mr. Lewin said.
Mr. Lewin’s term as Chairman of the Little League Board of Director will conclude next year, but he will remain a member of the board.
While he sees sports continuing to be one of the ways the youth in our country spend their time, he sees a couple trends that concern him looking toward the next decade and beyond.
“I believe children should participate in ‘seasonal’ sports as opposed to specializing in one sport the year-round,” said Mr. Lewin, who enjoys playing golf during some of his spare time. “Also, I have a concern about coaches and parents who have the sole goal of winning and/or preparing kids for potential college scholarships or professional careers at very early ages, rather than participation. That trend is potentially detrimental to many of those children both psychologically and physically.”
In addition to his work with Wide World of Sports while with ABC Sports, Mr. Lewin’s credits include producing “Monday Night Football,” NFL Pro Bowl games, Major League Baseball, including three World Series, coverage of eight Winter and Summer Olympic Games, World Figure Skating Championships and World Championship boxing events featuring Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Sugar Ray Leonard.
He first joined ABC Sports in 1966 as the Director of Rights Acquisitions and Assistant to the Coordinating Producer of “Wide World of Sports.” Mr. Lewin personally was awarded 13 Emmy Awards during his production career. During his final 10 years with ABC Sports as Senior Vice President, Production, the department also earned numerous additional awards, including another 64 Emmys.
“I am proud of the fact ABC Sports was ‘recognized around the world as the leader in sports television’ for most of the 30 years I worked there.” Mr. Lewin, who spends his summers in East Orland, Maine, said. “Our approach and legacy continues in every aspect of sports television today.”
After leaving ABC Sports, the 1965 graduate of Michigan State University joined the NFL as Senior Vice President – Broadcast Planning in 1997 and the following year he was named the Senior Vice President – Broadcast and Network Television. During his tenure with the NFL, Mr. Lewin was responsible for overseeing construction of the league schedule, was instrumental in developing the NFL’s “Instant Replay” review process, and managing relationships with the NFL’s network partners.
In September 2003, Mr. Lewin retired, but served as a consultant to the NFL for three more years.
Now that he has some spare time, his family comes first. He enjoys having the time to travel with his wife of 42 years, Vicki. Together, they enjoy spending time with their daughter, Cassidy Tewey, her husband, Patrick, a police officer, and the Lewins’ nine-year-old grandson, Casey. They also enjoy spending time with their son, Dj, who is a television executive.