Montgomery follows Williamsport for Little League Baseball charter
MONTGOMERY – Last Thursday, a program was held in Montgomery sponsored by the Montgomery Historical Society to reminisce once again that Montgomery holds the second Little League charter in the world history of Little League baseball.
There was a lot of memorabilia floating around and all can be found on permanent exhibit in the Adam Room below the Montgomery Library. “We have a whole room dedicated to it,” announced Larry Stout president of the Society. Stout held up a trophy of Coach Henry Miller’s Little League team when he played at the age of ten. “This was an experience of a lifetime. There were six teams back then in the 60’s,” said Stout. The Charter, however, goes back to 1947.
Barry Rake who coached in the 60s, shared some Little League stories. He said his legacy was the “Powder River Pitch. “Rake has been a volunteer umpire for the past 47 years in District 12 Little League of Lycoming County.
One of the attendees asked Rake if Little League is any different now than it was 71 years ago, and if it has changed much. Rake replied, “The kids are no different than they were 100 years ago. It’s the adults who behave differently,” he added. It seems the adults are running the youth sports, these days and he related some episodes that took place when parents would have “fits” on the field. “The safety of the game for the kids has changed, especially for the bats and the helmets. But the game itself, has not changed much.” Rake said he started coaching in 1963 when he returned from service in the US Navy. “My involvement is what we’re teaching these young kids,” replied Rake who said his responsibility is more on developing character, rather than winning or losing.
Harry Riddell who played in 1953, 1954 and 1955 brought in the original “auction book” from 1946 that listed many of the names from the early years of Montgomery Little League’s inception. “It lists a nine year sign-up,” he said.
Founder Carl Stotz stated that Montgomery Little League was the first little league team established outside of Williamsport to “adhere strictly to the rules.” The inquiry was first made on September 4, 1945 from Elmer Hessel of Montgomery who was Manager.
Riddell said the book was given to him and he intends on donating it to the Montgomery Historical Society. “The book was a sign-up book for players, and lists all players who played,” he said. “It is a very valuable historical document for Montgomery and Little League,” added Stout. Harry also brought in some old Luminary articles about Montgomery baseball to put on record.
There were four teams that first year with sponsors. They were Stahl’s Barber Shop managed by Dorsey Claudfelter; Koons Hotel managed by Harold Tobias; Leonards Furniture managed by Horace Lovelace; and Page’s Upholstery managed by Elmer Hessell. The player agent was William Grove.
All of the teams, their names, dates and births are listed in the “Auction Book.” Back then the players were assigned points based on the coaches. Riddell played on the Elimsport team in 1976. For the past 15 years he and his wife, Carol Riddell have been volunteering as ushers for the Little League World series. Carol said, “One of my favorite times is driving into Market Square to see all the little players every year. But I am upset that someone keeps stealing the bat.” She also said she was honored to have been given a Carl Stotz baseball collective pin by his daughter, Karen. “It shows him sitting on a bench.”
Barry Rake said he dedicated the umpire statue during opening ceremonies when the 300 thousand dollar project was completed in downtown Williamsport. Stout said, “If you look close enough, you will see the umpire statue resembles Barry Rake.”
A scrapbook from Jim Stahl showing the original ball field was also passed around, and baseballs from each decade are holding signatures of the players. There are still many players around yet who played during the 60’s and Stout is inviting all Little League players from all of the years to come to the Montgomery Historical Society to sign one of the baseballs.
“Denny Ladd was the first member to sign a baseball, and he played on the first team in the first tournament in 1946 at Brandon Park,” said Stout as he held up the baseball. They played and practiced at the elementary school which is where the high school now stands. Next they played at Montgomery Park before a field was permanently built for them.
Yes, Montgomery had a lot of popular ball teams, and now the Montgomery Historical Society aims to keep track of all the teams and players, one ball at a time.