Friday, June 6, 2014

Little League marking 75th anniversary with community celebration

WILLIAMSPORT — A community celebration Friday will mark the 75th anniversary of Little League that is the largest youth sports organization in the world.

Seven of the 10 surviving players from the first three teams formed by Carl E. Stotz will be recognized at the invitation-only event at the Community Arts Center in Williamsport.

They are Dick Hauser, Dave Hinaman and Thomas A. Frazier of Williamsport, Bill Bair of Montoursville, Al "Sonny" Yearick of Shamokin Dam, Charlie Smith of York and George Spooner of Palm Bay, Fla.

One of the highlights of the evening will be the premier showing of "Little League — A History," a PBS documentary that will debut at 7 p.m. Monday on WVIA in Pittston. It starts airing nationwide in July.

The first official Little League game was played June 6, 1939, on a field behind the right-field fence of Bowman Field.

Since then, more than 35 million youngsters worldwide have played Little League, which encompasses softball, older age classifications and a Challenger Division for those who are mentally and physically handicapped. Today, 2.4 million youngsters are playing Little League in 80 countries.

Scraping an ankle on the sharp stems of a recently cut lilac bush while playing backyard catch with nephews Jimmy and Major Gehron in 1938 was the impetus Stotz claimed for his decision to develop a baseball diamond for young boys.

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