Each year on Veteran’s Day, millions of people from around the United States pay tribute to those who have served in the military. On Veteran’s Day, and every day, Little League® International pays tribute to all the Little League graduates who have gone on to serve their country’s military services. Recognizing individuals who have played Little League as children and gone on to be a recognized role model in their careers, there are four enshrinees of the Little League Hall of Excellence who spent time on active duty in the United States military throughout their career.
Spec. Ross McGinnis (United States Army) – 2011 Enshrinee
According to official reports, on Dec. 4, 2006, Pfc. Ross McGinnis and his platoon were on patrol in Adhamiyah, Iraq, to restrict enemy movement and quell sectarian violence. During the patrol, an insurgent positioned on a rooftop threw a grenade into Ross’s vehicle, a Humvee. Without hesitation or regard for his own life, Pfc. McGinnis threw his back over the grenade, pinning it between his body and the Humvee’s radio mount. He shouted “grenade” to others in the vehicle, then absorbed all lethal fragments and the concussive effects of the blast with his own body – giving his life to save his four comrades. Ross was posthumously promoted to Specialist, and was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Silver Star. His family was presented with the Ross’ Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush in a ceremony at the White House on June 2, 2008.
Staff Sgt. Wilbert Davis (United States Army) – 2003 Enshrinee
Wilbert Davis played Little League in Tampa, Fla., and helped the 1975 Belmont Heights Little League team to reach the Little League Baseball World Series. On April 3, 2003, while en route to Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of the U.S. Army Third Infantry Division, Staff Sgt. Davis perished when his Humvee came under fire and overturned into a canal. Now, Headstone 7867 in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery marks the final resting place of Sgt. Davis, alongside thousands of this nation’s heroes. Robert Davis, Wilbert’s brother, said the two things his brother valued in life were “Little League baseball and the military.” Sgt. Davis is the first U.S. military person enshrined posthumously into the Hall of Excellence.
General Peter Pace (United States Marine Corps) – 2003 Enshrinee
Peter Pace played in the Teaneck (N.J.) Southern Little League in the 1950s. In 1968, as a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, his first assignment during the Vietnam War was to help lead about 2,500 Marines in dislodging an enemy force four times their strength in the city of Hue. He subsequently served assignments in Japan, Somalia, Europe and many places in the U.S. Gen. Pace is the sixth officer (and the first Marine) to become Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs – the second-highest attainable position in the U.S. military. In 2005, he was confirmed as the 16th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, which he held until his retirement in 2007. Of his Little League lessons, Gen. Pace said, “Over time I learned if I wanted play, I had to go to practice and practice on my own, and do all the things I needed to be successful.”
Dr. Franklin Story Musgrave (United States Marine Corps) – 1994 Enshrinee
Dr. Franklin Story Musgrave enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1953 where he served as an aviation electrician, instrument technician and aircraft crew chief while completing duty assignments in Korea, Japan, and Hawaii, and aboard the carrier USS Wasp in east Asia. After his military service, Dr. Musgrave became a NASA Astronaut where he has flown more than 17,000 hours in more than 160 types of aircraft including five missions on the Space Shuttle. Dr. Musgrave, who was instrumental in the repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, has three bachelors degrees and five masters degrees in addition to a Doctorate in Medicine. Dr. Musgrave played Little League in Boston, Mass.
About the Little League® Hall of Excellence
Enshrinement into the Little League® Hall of Excellence is the highest honor that Little League can bestow. To be considered for the Little League Hall of Excellence, a candidate must meet BOTH of these conditions: 1. He or she must have played in a chartered local Little League, and; 2. He or she must have become a recognized role model as an adult.
Being a role model does not necessarily mean being famous (like President George W. Bush, actor Kevin Costner, or singer Bruce Springsteen). Rather, the person must have, as an adult, set an example for children by their actions (like Medal of Honor recipient Spec. Ross McGinnis, Principal of the Year Michael Pladus, or Firefighter Michael Cammarata). Ms. Leroux and Mr. Pederson will be the 53rd and 54th members of the Little League Hall of Excellence.