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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2012 > May-August > ESPN Personality Dick Vitale, Southwest Airlines Executive VP Ron Ricks To Be Enshrined in Little League Hall of Excellence

ESPN Personality Dick Vitale, Southwest Airlines Executive VP Ron Ricks To Be Enshrined in Little League Hall of Excellence

ESPN Personality Dick Vitale, Southwest Airlines Executive VP Ron Ricks To Be Enshrined in Little League Hall of Excellence

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With his venerable and unmistakable enthusiasm, ESPN personality and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, Dick Vitale has declared his 2012 enshrinement into the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum’s Hall of Excellence, along with Executive Vice President of Southwest Airlines, Ron Ricks, as “Awesome, baby, with a capital ‘A!’”

Mr. Vitale, an accomplished basketball coach, TV personality and author, was born June 9, 1939, three days after the first Little League Baseball game was played in Williamsport, Pa. The East Rutherford, N.J., native played Little League in Garfield, N.J.

Born and raised in Del Rio, Texas, Mr. Ricks, now Executive Vice President and Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer, started with Southwest Airlines in 1981, when it was a small regional company. With its subsidiary, AirTran Airways, Southwest has 45,000 employees, the most passengers of any airline in the U.S., and has one of the world's largest fleets. Fifty years ago, Mr. Ricks played in the Little League Baseball World Series as a member of the 1962 South Region champions.

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Mr. Ron Ricks

Mr. Vitale and Mr. Ricks are expected to visit Little League International to be enshrined into the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum’s Hall of Excellence. The ceremony is scheduled for Sat., Aug. 18, at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.

“It’s the greatest thrill to be there and something I want to share with my grandkids … I am absolutely ecstatic,” Mr. Vitale, who will be entering his 11th “Hall of Fame, said. “The first uniform I ever had was when I was playing in the Garfield Little League in New Jersey in 1951. I am going to be like a little kid at the ceremony with my autograph pad.”

“The Little League Baseball World Series was all so overwhelming,” Mr. Ricks, remembering the journey he made to Williamsport half a century ago, said. “My wife says I peaked at 12, because the experience of playing in the World Series meant so much to me and my teammates. If people find out in conversation that I played in the World Series, all they want to do is talk about it, even if they had not played Little League or know anything about organized baseball.”

Mr. Vitale and Mr. Ricks have been influential in distinctly different ways throughout their professional careers, yet they have fond, life-shaping memories of their Little League days.

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Mr. Dick Vitale

“There is no doubt that Dick Vitale is a television icon, yet for each person he has entertained there are many others he has helped through his charitable endeavors,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Certainly, Mr. Vitale is a transcendent personality who welcomes the responsibility of being a role model. His willingness to give of himself clearly aligns with Little League’s ideals of teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play.

“Mr. Ricks is a Little League World Series alumnus, but more significant than his appearance in the World Series are the core values and life lessons he learned during his Little League years,” Mr. Keener said. “It’s been 50 years since Mr. Ricks appeared in the World Series. Yet, long after his playing days were finished he continues to draw on those experiences and apply them to his personal and professional lives, making him, and Mr. Vitale, deserving enshrinees in the Hall of Excellence.”

For more information on the Little League Hall of Excellence, visit this page: http://www.littleleague.org/learn/museum/hallofexcellence.htm.