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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2012 > May-August > Linda Ruff Selected as 2012 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year

Linda Ruff Selected as 2012 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year

Linda Ruff Selected as 2012 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year

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Linda Ruff has given to South Baltimore (Md.) Little League since 1980. Over the last few years, the reciprocation she has received from the league she has put so much of herself into, in many ways might have saved her life, and for sure provided some of the inspiration to overcome a life-threatening situation.

In the early part of 2007, Mrs. Ruff was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and had to endure treatment for the disease three days a week with each session lasting eight hours. During this time, she found the strength to maintain her fight from her immediate family and from her Little League “family.”

“My family has been there for me every step of the way during my fight with cancer,” Mrs. Ruff, who has been a lifelong resident of Baltimore, said. “The cards, well wishes, thoughts and prayers I received from everyone in the South Baltimore Little League played a big role in my recovery. If it hadn’t been for Little League, I’m not sure I would have made it.”

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Mrs. Linda Ruff has been a volunteer in the South Baltimore Little League for more than 30 years.

Despite the treatments taking its toll, Mrs. Ruff continued her responsibilities with the league as much as she could.

“Little League was my link to the outside world,” Mrs. Ruff said. “I thrive on my work for the league and it kept me going. I still have a small obstacle to overcome, but the ability to continue working for the kids, provided me with what I needed to get better.

“My three kids have given me nine lovely grandchildren,” Mrs. Ruff said. “But, I always say I have 260 children who are also my grandchildren in a number of ways. I am doing well and have a lot to be thankful for.”

Mrs. Ruff began her association with South Baltimore Little League in 1980 when her oldest daughter, Kim, became involved in the league. At that point, Mrs. Ruff served as a team mom for several years along with other team-related positions.

She remained involved as a parent as each of her three kids, Kandice and Adam, in addition to Kim, progressed through each of the four divisions of play.

At the same time, she became involved in the administration of the league, first as the Vice President of Softball for four years, before becoming a member of the Board of Directors as the recording secretary. In 1986, she accepted the position of Player Agent, a position she still holds today.

As the Player Agent, Mrs. Ruff is responsible for league activities such as registration and try-outs for players, handling the paperwork for proof of residency and age along with making sure all league paperwork is in order. The role of Player Agent is second only to the role of League President. She is also the Player Agent for Maryland District 4.

For her tireless work on behalf of the South Baltimore Little League and all her “grandchildren,” Mrs. Ruff has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year award.

In her nomination letter, Connie Hoover, President of the South Baltimore Little League, said, “Linda is always willing to help, no matter where, when, or how. If everyone had just a small taste of Linda’s desire for the betterment of the children and Little League, what a happy day it would be.”

Little League Baseball and Softball created the Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year award in recognition of the vital volunteer service being performed by thousands of dedicated people in urban settings around the country. Since 2005, this award has acknowledged an adult volunteer involved with a Little League program participating in the Urban Initiative. The recipient has provided a positive Little League experience for the children and adults with a local league’s metropolitan neighborhood or community.

“For more than 30 years, Linda Ruff has provided the South Baltimore Little League with a strength that has stood by her during some personal health issues the last few years,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Her commitment to the program and the children of Baltimore has provided a positive environment for the players to learn the game of baseball or softball while growing as people. We are proud to have Linda and the South Baltimore Little League as part of our Urban Initiative.”

“To be selected as the recipient of the Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year award is a humbling experience and one that I am touched and honored to receive,” Mrs. Ruff said. “I have watched my children and grandchildren play in the South Baltimore Little League and many other children and their children as well. For me, there is no greater joy than to see happy children.”

The Little League Urban Initiative is now operating with more than 200 leagues in more than 85 cities in the United States. The Little League Urban Initiative has stimulated the participation more than 3,900 teams, approximately 51,000 players, while participating in more than 30 field renovation/development projects.

Mr. Paster, who passed away in August 2011, was the Executive Vice President of Public Relations and Public Affairs, at WPP Group, and was Chairman of “A World of Opportunity – Little League Baseball Capital Campaign for the Future.” Mrs. Paster was the Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., until recently retiring.

Mrs. Ruff will be recognized at a breakfast and an on-field ceremony during the 2012 Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. The 66th World Series will be played Aug. 16-26.

Past Recipients of the Howard and Gail Paster Little League Urban Initiative Volunteer of the Year Award

  • 2005-Michael Alban, Ironbound American LL, Newark, N.J.
  • 2006-Gaither and Rebecca Beard, North Richmond LL, Richmond, Va.
  • 2007-Dr. Wilford Weber, Neartown LL, Houston, Texas
  • 2008-James Wright, Yellow Jackets LL, Tampa, Fla.
  • 2009-Frank Velasquez, C.H.I.L.L., Houston, Texas
  • 2010-Bill Haley, Jackie Robinson West LL, Chicago, Ill.
  • 2011-Kerry Cobb, Memphis (Tenn.) LL