Thursday, December 4, 2014

Original Field, The Birthplace of Little League Baseball®, Recognized With Listing in the National Register of Historic Places

Carl E. Stotz Field at Memorial Park in Williamsport, Pa., better known as, The Birthplace of Little League Baseball®
(Photo Courtesy of Little League Baseball)
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – As the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Little League® comes to a close, the organization’s first home, Carl E. Stotz Field at Memorial Park in Williamsport, Pa., better known as, The Birthplace of Little League Baseball® has received the distinction of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Original Field is where the Little League dream began and we are proud that the National Register of Historic Places has chosen to honor Carl Stotz and his idea in this way,” said Stephen D. Keener

Original Field (Photo Courtesy of Little League Baseball)
Since the second season of Little League opened on June 3, 1940, Carl E. Stotz Field has affectionately been known to Williamsporters as Original Field. It is a place of joy and civic pride for the townspeople, and a shrine to youth baseball for rest of the world. The diminutive baseball diamond, with its 60-foot base paths and iconic green outfield fence, played host to the first 12 Little League Baseball World Series (1947-1958).

The Pennsylvania History Code empowers the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to compile, maintain, revise, and publish a selected inventory of significant historic resources in the Commonwealth, to be known as the Pennsylvania Register of Historic Places, pursuant to criteria of significance approved by the Commission.

“Original Field is where the Little League dream began and we are proud that the National Register of Historic Places has chosen to honor Carl Stotz and his idea in this way,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “The social cornerstone that Little League has become in thousands of communities and the life lessons learned by millions of children were made possible by the games that were played on this tiny field. For generations, Little League’s intrepid history and proud legacy have been etched with every cleat mark, ball fielded, and slide made on Original Field.”

In an excerpt from Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball, John Lundy, of the Lundy Construction Company, one of the first three original sponsors of Little League, is quoted as saying, “My recollection is that (Little League) didn’t become real popular until it moved into Memorial Park ... into the public eye where more people could see it.”

Additions to the field at Max M. Brown Memorial Park turned the complex into a shrine to youth baseball. Jacob Lehn, a parent of one of the players, built a portable electronic scoreboard. Bob Stout, a Williamsport Technical Institute student, set up an amplifier system so he could announce the names of each player as they came to bat. Volunteers built a clubhouse behind the backstop, as well as dugouts and more seating areas to accommodate larger crowds.

The National Register of Historic Places was established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, and is maintained by the National Park Service (NPS). In Pennsylvania, the Bureau for Historic Preservation (BHP), acting as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), manages the National Register program. The SHPO, in this role, evaluates National Register eligibility; makes the officialnomination of resources to the National Register of Historic Places; provides information on historic properties, including National Register and National Historic Landmark listings; provides guidance on conducting architectural and historic surveys; and technical assistance to preparers of National Register nominations.

In 1939, Little League held its very first season, with games played just across the street from the Original Field location. The distinction of listing Original Field in the National Register of Historic Places is the latest in a year’s worth of commemorations of the 75thAnniversary of Little League. Other celebrations included a series of vignettes produced by ESPN, on-field ceremonies at both the Major League Baseball All Star Game and World Series, the lighting of the Empire State Building, a visit with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michele Obama at the White House with the 2014 Little League Baseball World Series United States Championship Team, Jackie Robinson West Little League from Chicago, and more.