Wednesday, January 20, 2016

World of Little League® Highlights Professional Football Connections; Running Track Challenge During the Month of January

Photo Courtesy of Little League Baseball
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa.  – Showing pride in your favorite football team can mean big savings this month at the World of Little League®: Peter J. McGovern Museum and Official Store.


Fans can prepare for “the big game” by wearing any merchandise with a professional football logo when visiting the Museum, and receive free admission any day during the month. Youth (14 and younger) are admitted free every day through Friday, February 7, as long as they are with an accompanying adult.

While in the Museum, youth have the opportunity to earn a $10 gift certificate to the Museum’s store by participating in the running track challenge. Participants may run three times on the track and the best valid time will be entered into the contest. There are five age categories for girls and the same number for boys. The parents of participants must complete an entry form.

The 10 winners will be announced the week of February 8-15 on the Museum’s Facebook page (facebook.com/LittleLeagueMuseum) for each of the categories. Gift certificates must be claimed by March 31.

The free admission for wearing a piece of professional football merchandise is in celebration of the many former professional football players that are also Little League graduates, including several who are members of the Museum’s Hall of Excellence.

The Hall of Excellence honors Little League graduates who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their chosen profession, and have become role models for children.

Among items on display is a football signed by Ozzie Newsome, a 1999 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who is now General Manager and Executive Vice President of the Baltimore Ravens. Mr. Newsome played all 13 seasons of his career with the Cleveland Browns. He played Little League Baseball® in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and was inducted into the Hall of Excellence in 2008.

Three other members of the Hall of Excellence also played professional football.

George H. “Billy” Hunter, former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, played for the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins. He was named to the Hall of Excellence in 2000. He led his Delaware Township (N.J.) Little League team to the finals of the Little League Baseball World Series in 1955.

Brian Sipe, inducted in 1999, was a member of the 1961 Little League Baseball World Series Championship team from El Cajon, Calif. Mr. Sipe went on to a 10-year NFL career with the Cleveland Browns, earning a Most Valuable Player Award in 1980.

Tony Dungy, inducted in 1998, is accomplished on and off the playing field – first as a player for the Steelers and 49ers, then as a Super Bowl-winning head coach at Tampa Bay, and now as a football analyst for NBC. Before that, however, he played in the Southeast Little League of Jackson, Mich.

Several current NFL players have strong connections to Little League. Julian Vandervelde, a former Philadelphia Eagles lineman, played in the Little League Baseball World Series in 2000 for Iowa. Matt Cassel, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, played in the 1994 Little League Baseball World Series for the U.S. National Champions from California.

A former fullback for the New York Giants, Henry Hynoski, played at Southern Columbia High School and the University of Pittsburgh. As a youngster, he played Little League near Elysburg, Pa.

Two former NFL players with local ties, Gary Brown, now the running backs coach for the Dallas Cowboys after an eight-year NFL career as a player, and Jack Losch, who played for the Green Bay Packers, are also Little League graduates. Both grew up in Williamsport, Pa., and played football at Williamsport High School. Mr. Losch played in the first Little League Baseball World Series in 1947 for the Maynard Midgets, the champions of the inaugural World Series.

Notable retired professional football players who are Little League graduates include: Joe Montana, a 2000 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who played his youth baseball in the Monongahela (Pa.) Optimist Little League; East Brady (Pa.) Little League product Jim Kelly, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002; two Pennsylvania natives – 1988 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Mike Ditka and 2005 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Dan Marino; John Elway, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004, played with Sentinel Little League in Missoula, Mont.;12-year NFL quarterback Joe Theismann, who played youth baseball in the South River (N.J.) Little League; 2006 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Troy Aikman, a graduate of Frontier Little League in Cerritos, Calif.; and Western Hills Little League (Austin, Texas) graduate Drew Brees.

Other Little League graduates who went on to NFL careers include Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Richard Sherman, Doug Flutie, Drew Bledsoe, Adam Vinatieri, Tom Brady, Steve Breaston, Bob Greise, Bill Parcells, Boomer Esiason, Brett Favre, and Aaron Rodgers.

The Museum is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In case of inclement weather, please check facebook.com/LittleLeagueMuseum for updates.

In February the Museum will observe Love My Little League Month. There are two ways to win. Anyone can help a favorite local Little League program earn 100 free Little League official shoulder patches by having a photograph for the museum’s Facebook page taken with a sign identifying the league. The second 100 patches will be given to the group receiving the most “likes” for its league.

The World of Little League, 525 Montgomery Pike (U.S. Route 15), is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. General admission is $5. It is $2 for children (ages 5 through 12) and $3 for senior citizens (ages 62 and older). Children four and younger are admitted free of charge.

Additional information about the museum, events and its inclement weather schedule can be found atLittleLeagueMuseum.org or by contacting the Museum at 570-326-3607. Follow World of Little League on Facebook (facebook.com/LittleLeagueMuseum) and Twitter (twitter.com/LLBMuseum).