ballplayers the Little League way
Wednesday meeting with district administrators
sheds important light on Little League
By Mark Rogoff
Little League Baseball, Incorporated is a
non-profit organization whose mission is "to
promote, develop, supervise, and voluntarily
assist in all lawful ways, the interest of those
who will participate in Little League Baseball
A meeting of the minds took place Wednesday
afternoon at Williamsport’s Radisson Hotel to
continue this mission.
More than 50 District Administrators met with
Little League President/CEO Stephen D. Keener,
Director of League Development Dan Velte and
League Development Manager Michael Legge to
discuss the development of current and new
The League Development department was created
last fall to push the effort.
“I think people are open to us giving them
materials to help grow the program, where as in
the past we just said, ‘Do this and do that.’”
Velte said. “Now we have the time and the man
power to go out and get some additional
materials that we can send to them.
“We can come out – as opposed to the regional
director and assistant regional director, who
may not have the time – and meet with three
groups in three days, or come out and meet with
some people who are thinking about leaving the
program. We can pack up and go do that.”
Following Keener’s opening remarks, Velte and
Legge made a presentation to the district
administrators, who are Little League’s highest
form of volunteers.
Velte and Legge went over a handful of success
stories since the creation of the department,
including the formation of six new leagues in
the Kansas City, Missouri area. Other successful
efforts include Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas;
Columbus, Ohio; and Jackson, Mississippi.
The main target in these cities and others is
the local YMCA, which are, according to Velte,
more than willing to partner up with Little
League to get kids playing ball.
“Little League will provide the training for
league officials and for managers and coaches,”
Velte said of newly-formed leagues in
association with YMCAs.
Minor league baseball teams are another catalyst
for new leagues and upkeep of current ones,
according to Velte. This effort is just getting
underway, with local partnerships being built
with the Altoona Curve, Harrisburg Senators,
Trenton Thunder and Williamsport Crosscutters.
Little League advertisements are being placed in
game programs, and there are scores of ticket
fundraising opportunities at the games.
Make no mistake about it, the Little League
Baseball World Series is the loudest voice
Little League has. With almost unquantifiable
exposure through ESPN and ABC, and all the local
newspapers that cover the participating teams,
Little League is able to make its statement loud
“We’ll probably have 300-500 requests for
information during the World Series,” Velte
said. “If someone requests information, we’re
getting it out to them during the World Series.
Whereas in the past, it had to be after the
World Series after we organized everything. Now,
after the Series we can call them and say,
‘You’ve got the material. What can we do to help
you start a league?’”
In addition to television and print exposure,
attendance at the 10-day tournament is a source
of interested parties as well.
“The Series draws people to Little League,” said
Velte. “Whether they know what we offer or not,
the Series makes it accessible for us to get in
front of people. We can tell them exactly all
the things we offer. In my opinion, it makes
them even more interested. They’re not just
being allowed to play under the umbrella of
Little League, but Little League is going to
give them the training and education and
materials and supplies.”
Velte and Legge opened the floor to questions
after the presentation, and five big issues were
brought up by the district administrators:
- Create a
Public Service Announcement that all local
leagues can provide media outlets in their
- To use the
Little League Baseball World Series even
more to Little League’s advantage
year-round advertising, not just at the time
of the World Series
development help with the Junior League,
Senior League and Big League divisions
- Focus on
the community aspect of Little League
Baseball to bring back kids who have left
Little League to play on all sorts of travel
suggestion came at the hands of District
Administrator Douglas Brooks from District 2 in
South Carolina. He oversees leagues in the
cities of Summerville, Goose Creek and
Belvedere, and firmly believes community pride
is a critical tactic for Little Leagues across
“The thing we want to emphasize is, ‘Hey, by
playing Little League Baseball, you’re going to
be playing for your community, for your friends
and for your family,’” he said. “You’re going to
be playing with your classmates, and all the
games are local.”
Brooks notes that by playing Little League and
not travel ball, children won’t have to trek 500
miles every weekend to a tournament.
Brooks’ efforts are being seen in the schools,
where league officials have been handing out
flyers and talking to kids and teachers. He
would love to see Public Service Announcements
in movie theaters on a year-round basis as well.
Brooks has already put up five 20-foot-high
billboards throughout his district.
“We try to keep the program out there year
round,” he said. “One of the leagues, we’ll do
something with the Christmas parade. Another
league will give away (Thanksgiving) turkeys at
Brooks cites the city of Belvedere as an area
making a strong effort.
“Belvedere is really pushing the program hard as
far as getting the kids back in it,” he said.
“Everybody there knows everybody. It makes a big
difference. In Belvedere, everybody not only
plays baseball on Saturday, but they go to
church together on Sunday. It just all works
Brooks, like all District administrators, is the
heart of Little League volunteerism. They are on
the front lines, promoting the good-natured
spirit of Little League Baseball.
Wednesday’s gathering proved that.
“DAs are the most important part,” Velte said.
“You can’t do it without them.”