Friday, January 9, 2009

Little League Southwest Region Headquarters Named for President George W. Bush

WACO, Texas – Little League’s Southwest Region Headquarters in Waco, Texas, has been renamed in honor of President George W. Bush, the first U.S. President to have played Little League, it was announced today by Dennis Lewin, Chairman of the Little League International Board of Directors.Little League International maintains six year-around baseball and softball training facilities in the United States, each serving thousands of Little League boys and girls, and adult Little League volunteers. The newest of these facilities in Waco serves Little Leagues in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

“The George W. Bush Little League Leadership Training Center is a place where children learn the games of baseball and softball, and families come together to celebrate those great sports,” Mr. Lewin said. “President Bush has worked to encourage youth fitness and our national pastime, and we are privileged to name this facility for him. We look forward to formally dedicating the facility at the convenience of President Bush.”

President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush have invited Little League teams to the South Lawn of the White House for the past eight summers. The Tee Ball on the South Lawn program allowed more than 500 American children from all 50 states to tour the White House, meet the President and First Lady, and play ball on the historic grounds. More than 8,000 people have attended the 20 games that were played.

“We cannot thank President and Mrs. Bush enough for their support,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League International, said. “Hundreds of Little League families have joined them in celebrating the sport at the Tee Ball on the South Lawn games.”

The 26-acre Little League facility in Waco includes a 2,000-seat stadium where the annual Southwest Region Tournament is played. The winner of that event advances to the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport.

The complex includes three other ball fields, all lighted for night play. An 8,400-square foot headquarters administration building is used year-around for training clinics and seminars on everything from league administration to proper umpiring techniques and coaching strategies. Local civic clubs and schools use the facilities as well, as is the case with all Little League facilities worldwide.

President Bush played Little League Baseball at Central Little League in Midland, Texas, in the mid-1950s. In 2001, he was enshrined in the Little League Museum Hall of Excellence during a ceremony at the Little League Baseball World Series. On Aug. 13, 2005, President Bush, Mrs. Bush, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended the championship game of the Southwest Region Tournament in Waco.

Both of President Bush’s parents were volunteers in the league in Midland. Little League named its annual national “Parents of the Year Award” after President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush.

Little League Baseball is the world’s largest youth sports organization, with more than 2.6 million children participating in every U.S. state and more than 75 other countries on six continents. It is the only sports organization that holds a Federal Charter of Incorporation, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 16, 1964.

Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with nearly 2.7 million players and one million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries.