So, mom asks “Where are you going today?”
Williamsport, PA, mom.
“Oh yeah, what’s there?”, she further inquiries.
“Why are you going there? You don’t like kids, you didn’t play Little League, and you don’t even like baseball”
Asked in only a way a mom can ask. I don’t have a good answer other than because it’s there and it’s a Supergraphic. So with that, I check it out with no preconceived notions or expectations.
It’s always a weird feeling when I’m the only customer in a venue. But I do like having a place to myself. The staff is very nice and shows me to the theater for the start of the game.
The museum tells the story of Little League’s past to a more dynamic presentation of how Little League has intertwined with U.S. and world history. The story unfolds on a self-guided tour that follows the concept of a six-inning Little League game.
The 1st Inning is a short introductory film of Little League baseball. I’m a little fidgety and anxious and lose interest and duck out before the film concludes. Foul Ball!
The Second inning is Heritage. Beginning in 1939 when Carl Stotz, a resident of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, founds Little League Baseball. Developing the game for his nephews by a carving a home plate from an old piece of rubber. He gathers $30 in sponsorships to purchase uniforms for each of the first three teams. Named after their sponsors they are Lycoming Dairy, Lundy Lumber, and Jumbo Pretzel. No Redskins, no Indians, no Warriors, and no controversy. Except the Pretzels were always suspected of being a little twisted.
The exhibits feature a rich mixture of authentic Little League heritage, artifacts, and photos. I always admire a person with a dream, ambition and subsequent success. This hall does a great job of telling the story of Carls struggles and successes. Sacrifice Fly.
Connections are the theme of the 3rd Inning, highlighting the reach of little league to 200,000 teams in 80 countries around the world. One of the museum’s proudest attractions is the Global Connections Touch Table. You can access information on every local Little League program in the world.
In the Game – 4th Inning
My favorite section is the interactive portion. This is where I can test my mettle as a Little Leaguer. There are exhibits that test my running time to 1st base, ability to field ground balls, and to catch balls headed over the wall. This is obviously designed for younger folks but since I’m the only one here, I run, jump and catch for all its worth. I’ve yet to get drafted by any of the 200,000 of Little League Teams.
5th Inning – World Series
Newsreel coverage of all Little League World Series is viewable by selecting the year on a touchscreen. Something about the voice and content of old newsreels fascinates me. With intrigue, I watch the Granada Hills, California team defeat the Stratford Original Little League in my birth year of 1963. I get a kick out of the adults just content to cheer on their team and smoke their cigarettes and not yell at the kids, coaches or umpires. Were we really more civil then? Is there a correlation between nicotine and civility?
The 6th, and final, inning is the Hall of Excellence. It is a who’s who of the Little Leaguers who went on to excel in their chosen profession. Honored are politicians, astronauts, sports stars and everyday people.
There are letters back and forth between presidents and other notable politicians. Beside this correspondence, also on display are autographed sports memorabilia, super bowl rings, and space suit.
Take Me out to the Ball Park
My tour continues out of the museum to the famous Lamade Stadium. The Little League World Series has been played here since 1959.
The field has recently undergone some resodding and looks great. Despite being early Fall the groundskeepers are cutting the grass and it smells like Spring. The venue is inviting and cozier than I expected.
There is a large looming statue over the right-field wall. Closer examination reveals its the Might Casey of Mudville Flats fame. I have heard snippets of the Earnst Thayer poem before and it is inscribed along the base of the statue in its entirety.
Casey at The Bat
As recently trying my hand at writing, I read the poem with great interest. I absolutely marvel at the wordsmithing of the poet. I certainly enjoy the poem though Casey it not much of a role model for the young players. He is an arrogant, overconfident baseball player who leads his team to defeat by refusing to swing at the first two balls pitched to him and then whiffing on the third.
“Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.”
— Earnest Thayer