Little League® International mourns the passing of James L. Easton, former president and CEO of Easton incorporated, founder of the Easton Foundations, and supporter of Little League for more than 50 years. He was 88.
Mr. Easton, a native of Los Angeles, was a 1959 graduate of the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), earning a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering.
Professionally, Mr. Easton began his career working for the Douglas Aircraft Company. In the late 1960s, Mr. Easton joined his father’s company (Jas. Easton Inc.), and along with his brother, Bob, was integral in developing the first aluminum baseball bats and other alloy-based sporting equipment. Years later, Mr. Easton assumed the position of chairman, chief executive officer, and president of the Easton company.
For more than 40 years, Easton Baseball/Softball has been the “Official Team Equipment Supplier” of Little League and each year the organization provides equipment to participants at both the Little League Baseball and Softball World Series tournaments.
“Inspired and determined to help others, Jim saw Little League as a vehicle to provide opportunity to children and communities,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “He devoted a generous portion of his life to promoting youth projects and programs. His contributions to our organization, and his dedication and passion for the mission of youth sports has helped us provide memorable experiences to children in communities all around the world and teach life lessons through the games of baseball and softball.”
Mr. Easton helped lead the sports equipment industry to strengthen its focus on the growth and development of youth sports, especially baseball and softball. As a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 1994 to 2006, he also helped coordinate the support and international growth of youth sports, including Little League. Mr. Easton sold the Easton company in 2006, but his dedication to youth sports and the Little League program continued through the support of The Easton Foundation which he founded in 2007.
Among the Little League projects impacted by the Easton Foundations were installation of digital scoreboards at each of the Little League’s five regional centers in the United States, and three video boards that have enhanced the fan experience at the Little League Baseball® World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. At the 2022 Little League International Congress, Mr. Easton was honored with the Peter O’Malley Distinguished Little League Ambassador Award.
An avid archer, Mr. Easton served as president of the World Archery Federation from 1989 to 2005. He guided the sport of archery through a competition modernization and was instrumental in establishing the federation’s first professional office.
Mr. Eason is survived by his wife, Phyllis; son, Greg; daughter, Lynn; and brother, Robert. He was preceded in death by his parents.