Following decades of support of the Little League® program which contributed to its growth around the world, Little League International is proud to present the 2023 W. Howard Hartman Little League Friendship Award to the Piszek Family. The award will be presented in honor of the late Bill Piszek and his father, Ed, prior to the 7 p.m. ET game of the 2023 Little League Baseball® World Series, Presented by T-Mobile, between the Mid-Atlantic Region and the Southwest Region on Thursday, August 17.
“For generations, the Piszek family has been supporting the global growth of the Little League program, and we would not be where we are today without the help of Bill, Ed, and the entire Piszek family,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “On behalf of Little League International, and the millions of children we serve each year, we are pleased to present this prestigious award as we honor the friendship, support, and dedication of the Piszek family. While we wish Bill and Ed were here to join us in receiving this award, we know they would be humbled and honored.”
Together with his father, Ed, and Stan Musial, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bill Piszek organized a fundraising drive to help finance the building of the Little League International’s Region Center in Kutno, Poland. The Little League European Region Headquarters opened in 1996 and is the location where Little League teams from Asia, The Middle East, Africa, and Europe compete annually for a trip to the Little League Baseball World Series. The Region Center features team dormitories, an administration building, a pair of pavilions, and five Little League baseball fields, two of which bear the names of Ed Piszek and Stan Musial.
In addition to their tremendous support of the Little League program, the Piszek family is also best known for their ownership of Mrs. Paul’s Kitchens, a frozen seafood empire. After co-founding the company in 1946, Ed Piszek would go on to grow the business tremendously before eventually selling it to the Campbell Soup Company in 1982. Following in his father’s footsteps, Bill also spent his professional career working for the family business before eventually taking on the role of Marketing Research Manager for the Campbell’s Soup Company.
Along with their strong entrepreneurial expertise, Ed and Bill were also very committed to philanthropy and humanitarian projects over the years, especially throughout Europe in honor of their Polish roots. After his father’s passing, Bill assumed a more active leadership role in the philanthropic efforts, serving as the Co-Chairman of the Copernicus Society of America, a private family foundation.
In 1999, while attending a Little League game in Poland, Bill noticed an increased need for baseball gloves among children and began coordinating efforts to collect new and used gloves to help children in need across the United States, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. In just over a year, “Pitch in a Glove for Little League” helped to gather around 1,000 used gloves while raising $4,000 to buy brand new ones. In 2005, Bill put an ad in a Philadelphia-area newspaper asking for donations, which caught the attention of David Rhode and sparked the launch of Pitch in for Baseball and Softball, a partner of Little League still to this day. Together, through the support of the Piszek family and their efforts across Europe, thousands of children have been given the opportunity to play the game they love and experience the fun and memories that the Little League program provides each year.
Today, an exhibit featuring a box of Mrs. Paul’s Kitchens frozen seafood is on display in the World of Little League Museum, honoring the Piszek’s for their support and dedication to the Little League program. To learn more about visiting the Museum and learning more about the history of the organization and the role the Piszek family provided, visit LittleLeague.org/Museum.
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.
- 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