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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2014 > January-April > Little League® Celebrates its 75th Anniversary and Honors Significant Contributions to the Program at the Closing of the 26th Little League International Congress

Little League® Celebrates its 75th Anniversary and Honors Significant Contributions to the Program at the Closing of the 26th Little League International Congress

Little League® Celebrates its 75th Anniversary and Honors Significant Contributions to the Program at the Closing of the 26th Little League International Congress

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The 26th Little League® International Congress came to a close in Minneapolis, Minn., on Monday, April 7. With ESPN’s Chris McKendry serving as the event’s emcee, Little League celebrated its 75th Anniversary with more than 1,500 volunteers, and honored significant contributions to help make Little League into the world’s largest and most prestigious youth sports organizations.

Among the highlights of the Chairman’s Banquet, Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, Little League International Board of Directors Chairman, announced the retirement of Dr. Creighton J. Hale from the Board. Dr. Hale, 90, first joined Little League 60 years ago, and served as its second full-time President and CEO for more than 20 years. A youth baseball safety pioneer, researcher, and inventor, Dr. Hale delivered an address reflecting on the history of Little League from the 1950s to today.

Little League also honored the contributions of three individuals and a close partner with awards.

Peter O’Malley, former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, presented the award named in his honor, the Peter O’Malley Distinguished Ambassador Award, to Jin Roy Ryu. Mr. Ryu, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Korea-based Poongsan Group was a longtime trustee of the Little League® Foundation, serving until the Foundation was dissolved in 2011. Mr. Ryu also serves as the Vice Chairman of The Federation of Korea Industries, the Vice-Chairman of the Korea-U.S. Economic Council, the Korea Defense Industry Association, the Federation of Korean Industries, and the Korea International Trade Association. He is also a trustee with The First Tee organization and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. The entire announcement on Mr. Ryu’s award can be found on LittleLeague.org.

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(Left to Right) Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO, and Peter O'Malley, former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, present the Peter O'Malley Distinguished Little League Ambassador Award to Jin Roy Ryu, Poongsan Group Chairman and CEO.

Former Minneapolis Twins player and Pitch In For Baseball Board of Directors President, Roy Smalley, joined Pitch In For Baseball’s Executive Director, David Rhode, to accept the Little League President’s Award. A Little League partner since 2005, Pitch In For Baseball helps children around the world enjoy a Little League experience by providing new and gently used baseball and softball equipment to local Little League programs around the world. This year, Little League is supporting Pitch In For Baseball through the Little League Big Legacy Project. A digital mosaic will be created to celebrate Little League’s 75th Anniversary.  To celebrate the Little League memories uploaded, Little League is donating $50,000, to Pitch In For Baseball to ensure that future Little Leaguer memories can be made in communities in the United States and internationally. The entire announcement of Pitch In For Baseball’s award can be found on LittleLeague.org.

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(Left to Right) Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO, presents the President's Award to Roy Smalley, former Minneapolis Twins player and Pitch In For Baseball Board of Directors President, and David Rhode, Pitch In For Baseball Executive Director.

Dr. Gilmour presented long-time volunteer and dedicated umpire Bill Carter with the Chairman’s Award. Mr. Carter has been a volunteer Little League umpire for nearly 35 years. In 2005, he had the distinction of being a part of the umpire crew at the Little League Baseball World Series. In 1991, Mr. Carter helped form California District 11, serving as the District Administrator for the leagues in the area northeast of Sacramento. Having umpired at every level of Little League Baseball, and most levels of Little League Softball, Mr. Carter is a devoted officiating educator. He has hosted numerous umpire clinics, contributed to Little League’s Fairball newsletter, and served as a mentor for countless volunteer organizers and umpires within the Little League program.

Bristol, Conn., volunteer Maryellen Holden received the Peter J. McGovern Distinguished Service Award from Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. First volunteering in 1988 at Forestville Little League in Bristol, Conn., she was elected as the Connecticut District 5 Administrator in 2010. Mrs. Holden is the first woman to be recognized with this award, the highest recognition bestowed to a Little League volunteer. Among her many contributions to Little League, Mrs. Holden has been a member of the Little League Baseball and Softball President’s International Advisory Board and currently serves on the Ed Beardsley Challenger Little League Fun Day Committee. She is a member of the Eastern Regional Little League Baseball and Little League Softball Tournament Committees. Last fall, she was recognized for her efforts on a local level as she was inducted into the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame. The entire announcement on Mrs. Holden's award can be found on LittleLeague.org.

“I cannot think of a better group to honor than those we were able to recognize at tonight’s banquet,” said Mr. Keener. “Little League’s mission to provide all children around the world the opportunity to have a positive on field experience has been directly impacted through the dedication of Mr. Ryu, Pitch In For Baseball, Mr. Carter and Mrs. Holden. They are all wonderful examples of how groups of individuals can have a positive impact on the Little League experience and the lives of children around the world.”

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(Left to Right) Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO, with the three, "first women" of Congress: Chris McKendry, SportsCenter Anchor and first woman emcee, Maryellen Holden, Connecticut District 5 Administrator and first woman recipient of the Peter J. McGovern Award, and Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, first female Little League International Board of Directors Chairman.

With Dr. Gilmour serving as the first female Chairman of the Little League International Board of Directors at a Congress; Ms. Holden being the first female to win the Peter J. McGovern Distinguished Service Award; and Ms. McKendry, a Little League mom and one of the hosts of ESPN’s coverage of the Little League World Series Tournaments, being the first female emcee of the Chairman’s Banquet, this year was the year of the woman at the International Congress.

During National Volunteer Week, it was especially appropriate that Little League International honored local volunteers and presented the District Administrator Little League Meritorious Service Award and the Assistant District Administrator Commendation Awards at the Volunteer Recognition Lunch.

“The 26th Little League International Congress was a tremendous success thanks to the hard work and dedication of all our volunteers, especially the host committee in Minneapolis, and the co-chairs, Dr. Jerry Sandler, and his wife, Connie,” said Dr. Gilmour. “To have such a historic occasion on such a significant year has made our Diamond Anniversary year even more special.”

The Little League International Congress, held every four years, is a gathering of Little League District Administrators, Assistant District Administrators and other local Little League volunteers for educational meetings and discussions on new Little League rules and regulations. The next Little League International Congress is scheduled to take place in 2018.