Dr. Darrell Burnett Posthumously Recognized with 2024 W. Howard Hartman Little League® Friendship Award


A dedicated volunteer, long-time advocate of the Little League Challenger Division®, and former member of the Little League® International Board of Directors, Little League International will honor Dr. Darrell Burnett as the recipient of the 2024 W. Howard Hartman Little League Friendship Award. Dr. Burnett, who passed away on August 26, 2023, will be honored posthumously on Saturday, August 24, prior to the 2024 Little League Challenger Division Exhibition Game, with his wife, Susann, accepting the award and throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

“Inclusion is one of the five core values of the Little League program, and nobody was more focused on the inclusion of children with physical and intellectual challenges than Darrell,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “On behalf of all of us here at Little League International, and the countless children he was able to help serve and inspire, we are humbled to honor Dr. Burnett’s legacy and friendship with this award. While we wish Dr. Burnett could be with us to receive the award this summer, we look forward to welcoming his wife, Susann, back to Williamsport to accept in his honor.”

A former member of the Little League International Board of Directors and longtime Challenger Division volunteer in California Districts 55 and 68, Dr. Burnett was a clinical psychologist who specialized in youth sports and worked with special needs children for nearly 30 years. In 2007, he was recognized by Little League with an award for his efforts in the Rancho Niguel Little League and neighboring Little League programs in Southern California. In that same year, Dr. Burnett joined the Little League International Board of Directors, and he began his time as a commentator for the television coverage of the annual Little League Challenger Exhibition Game played in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, during the Little League Baseball World Series. Dr. Burnett retired from the Board of Directors in November 2016.

One of Dr. Burnett’s greatest contributions to the Challenger Division was working with fellow volunteers to help make the program even more inclusive, expanding the age limit past the previous limit of 18 years old, and helping to develop the Senior Challenger Division.

In addition, Dr. Burnett authored several articles for Little League’s online publications and donated his time to speak at various public events. For more than 10 years, Dr. Burnett helped to organize Little League Challenger Classic at Angels Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Dr. Burnett was an unwavering champion for Little League Challenger Division and was always willing to provide guidance on how to expand opportunity for local leagues to support children and volunteers with special needs.

The W. Howard Hartman Little League Friendship Award was created in 1988 to honor W. Howard Hartman, one of Little League International’s most generous and loyal friends. The award is presented annually to an individual or organization who has demonstrated a similar relationship with Little League. 

Previous Recipients:
  • 1988-Ray Keyes
  • 1989-Robert Yasui
  • 1990-Putsee Vannucci
  • 1991-Howard Baldwin
  • 1992-Jack Lundy
  • 1993-Bill Byham
  • 1994-Gary Mayer
  • 1995-John Troisi
  • 1996-Mary Lib Stockwell
  • 1997-Sharon Verbos
  • 1998-Ed Claudius
  • 1999-Terry Gramling
  • 2000-Tom Dempsey
  • 2001-Williamsport-Lycoming Foundation
  • 2002-Alan Wells
  • 2003-Peter Luppachino
  • 2004-Thomas ‘Tuck’ Frazier
  • 2005-Hon. William Miller
  • 2006-Susquehanna Health System
  • 2007-Lycoming County Law Enforcement Association
  • 2008-Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce
  • 2009-Fred Plankenhorn & Paul Weaver
  • 2010-WRAK Radio (Williamsport, Pa.)
  • 2011-Dave and Don Fowler
  • 2012-Lenel Systems International, Inc.
  • 2013-Steve Moff
  • 2014-Federal Correctional Complex Allenwood & U.S. Penitentiary Lewisburg
  • 2015-Pennsylvania State Police, Troop F
  • 2016-American Honda Motor Co.
  • 2017-Jim Darby, Easton Sports & Easton Foundation
  • 2018-Don Goodman, Calif. District 35 Administrator
  • 2019-Paul Graziano
  • 2020-No Award Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
  • 2021-Ken Sawyer
  • 2022-Musco Sports Lighting
  • 2023-Piszek Family
  • 2024-Dr. Darrell Burnett