Little League® International mourns the passing of Barbara Bush, the 37th First Lady of the United States, and a Little League mom. She was 92.
Mrs. Bush, and her husband, the 41st President of the United States George H.W. Bush, had been Little League supporters for decades. For more than 60 years, Little League and the Bush family have crossed paths many times.
“The entire Bush family has been great friends and strong supporters of the Little League program for many years,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League International President and CEO. “Mrs. Bush, like millions of women around the world, was a dedicated Little League volunteer, where she served as a team mom and scorekeeper while her husband coached a team in Midland, Texas. Love of her family and service to her community, whether it be through a Little League program or in her role as First Lady, were the attributes that made her so special. On behalf of the entire Little League International family, I extend our deepest condolences to Mrs. Bush’s family and her many, many friends.”
In recognition of their support of Little League International, in 1980, the Little League Parents of the Year Award was established to acknowledge the parents of a Major League Baseball player, who were actively involved in their son’s Little League experience. In 1989, Little League honored President and Mrs. Bush by adding their names to the award that is presented annually during the Little League Baseball® World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Little League’s 50th Anniversary was also celebrated in 1989, when the Bush Family hosted a reception on the South Lawn of the White House. In a conversation during the 50th Anniversary celebration with Dr. Creighton Hale, former President and CEO of Little League, Mrs. Bush is quoted as saying, “If it weren’t for women, there wouldn’t be any Little League,” thus, the seed was planted for associating the Bushes with the Parents of the Year Award and creating Little League’s Mom of the Year Award.
A few days following that event, President and Mrs. Bush traveled to the United States Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, with Dr. Hale to deliver the first Little League charter to leagues established after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Mrs. Bush was sure to pass along her love of baseball and softball, and Little League. Following his election as the 43rd President of the United States in 2000, Mrs. Bush’s son, President George W. Bush, continued the family’s support of the Little League program by inviting Little Leaguers® to the White House as part of the “Tee Ball on the South Lawn” program.
On March 12, 2005, in Houston, Mrs. Bush participated in the opening ceremonies for Texas District 16’s West University Little League, which celebrated the first year of the league’s Challenger Division. She threw out the first pitch at newly-renovated Paul Wallin Field. In April 2007, at the 24th Little League International Congress in Houston, former President and Mrs. Bush were honored as Little League’s “First Family,” during the Chairman’s Luncheon. And, nearly two years later, in January 2009, Little League’s Southwestern Regional Center in Waco, Texas, was named the George W. Bush Little League Training Center.
“For decades, the entire Bush family and especially former First Lady Barbara Bush, have been great supporters of Little League in Texas, and throughout the world,” said Hugh Tanner, Chairman of the Little League International Board of Directors. “Long before their political dynasty was launched, Mrs. Bush was an active parent and irreplaceable presence in Midland Little League where her son and future President George W. Bush played. Little League and I owe a great debt of gratitude to Mrs. Bush and our heartfelt condolences are with her family.”
Mrs. Bush was married to the former President for 73 years. She is also survived by her sons, George, Jeb, Neil, and Marvin; daughter Dorothy; and several grandchildren. She is predeceased by daughter, Robin.
@LittleLeague 50th Anniversary celebration hosted by President and Mrs. Bush June 1989...from all of us at Little League International our deepest condolences to the Bush family for your loss and many thanks for your valued friendship. pic.twitter.com/xnY5JvJy4r
— Steve Keener (@littleleagueceo) April 18, 2018