For the family of Tony and Robin Rasmus, Little League® has been a binding thread of their lives. Their four sons (Colby, Cory, Cyle, and Case) have thrived on the baseball field, all four advancing through to the collegiate and/or professional level, but it is the respect for the life lessons learned between the lines and reinforced by Mr. and Mrs. Rasmus that has earned them the recognition as the 2014 George and Barbara Bush Little League Parents of the Year.
The Rasmuses enduring support and commitment to their children and the Little League program will be honored at the 68th Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., during an on-field ceremony on Saturday, August 23.
Mr. and Mrs. Rasmus, married for 27 years, raised their children in Phenix City, Ala. Each of their four sons played Little League, and Tony was Manager of Colby and Cory’s Phenix City National Little League team that represented the United States South Region in the 1999 Little League Baseball® World Series, winning the U.S. Championship.
“The most fun our family has ever had was in Little League and playing in the Little League Baseball World Series,” said Mr. Rasmus. “The boys still refer back to their years in Little League as the best times of their lives.”
The Rasmuses were active volunteers for all the years their children played in the Little League program. Mr. Rasmus was a coach and manager, while Mrs. Rasmus served as a team mom, concession stand manager, and member of the league’s Board of Directors.
“Robin is my best friend,” said Mr. Rasmus. “She is a rare bird because she can be stern, while always being positive. I think we did a good job with our kids as they were growing up. I see the glass half empty, while she always sees it as half full.”
Colby, 27, currently plays for the Toronto Blue Jays; and Cory, 26, is in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization. Cyle, 25, played for Columbus (Ga.) State University. Case, 24, recently retired after three years in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, last playing with the Palm Beach (Fla.) Cardinals.
“I always felt like a parent to all of my players,” said Mr. Rasmus. “I would do everything in my power to teach them as much baseball and life lessons as I could in the time we had. I still have that same philosophy today. It’s a kids’ game, but the broader goals of Little League are to bring everyone together and to help them be as good as they can be at whatever they do. That’s why I believe Little League is the last vestige of fun baseball.”
In the 1999 Little League Baseball World Series, Phenix City National Little League beat Toms River (N.J.) East American Little League, 3-2, to capture the U.S. title and earn a berth in the Little League Baseball® World Series Championship game against Hirakata Little League from Osaka, Japan. The Far East and International Region Champions defeated Mr. Rasmus’s team, 5-0, before a crowd 42,000 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium.
In the title game, Cory Rasmus (1-for-3) had one of his team’s two hits, a single. Defensively, the brothers combined for 11 putouts in the game. For the tournament, Phenix City National Little League finished with a 3-2 record. Colby Rasmus pitched and played first base, going 5-for-11 (.455 batting average), with one home run, three RBI and three runs scored. Cory was behind the plate for all of his team’s games, and went 6-for-10 (.600 batting average), with one home run, one RBI and four runs scored.
The Rasmus family’s baseball journey began in 1986, when Mr. Rasmus was drafted in the 10th round (252nd overall) by the California Angels. After 114 games over three minor league seasons, Mr. Rasmus retired in 1988. In 2001, Mr. Rasmus, a physical science teacher at Russell County (Ala.) High School, became the school’s varsity baseball coach. Last year, the school’s ball field was re-named “Tony Rasmus Field” in recognition of his hard work and dedication to the baseball program and its players. Mrs. Rasmus, a Kindergarten teacher in the Russell County School System, was a standout softball player in high school.
“For parents to let their children experience life, and still be supportive and engaged without becoming an intrusion is many times a daunting challenge,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “Mr. and Mrs. Rasmus discovered that balance early on, and gave their children the direction and support that allowed each to achieve and excel. As the Rasmus children have shown, becoming a Major League Baseball player is an attainable dream, but during their time in Little League what was important was playing baseball, making friends, and having fun. Mr. and Mrs. Rasmus were there for children, and nurtured the balance between work ethic, the will to succeed and enjoying the game, and they did so in support of Little League. We are proud to present them with this award.”
The George and Barbara Bush Little League Parents of the Year Award was established in 1980 and is presented annually to the parents of a Major League Baseball player who were actively involved in their son’s Little League experience. The award is named in honor of the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, and former First Lady Barbara Bush. Both were Little League volunteers during their children’s early years in Midland, Texas, and continue to support Little League today.
More than the recognition of one set of parents annually, the George and Barbara Bush Parents of the Year Award is designed to be a symbolic recognition of the millions of mothers and fathers who each year respond to the call of parental duty and help provide a wholesome and healthy arena for leadership training for the children of their respective communities. Previous winners include Charles and Dorothy Jeter (Derek Jeter), Frank and Charlie Mae Thomas (Frank Thomas), David and Aba Gonzalez (Adrian Gonzalez), and Jack and Louis Schmidt (Mike Schmidt).