WILLIAMSPORT — Friday marked a major milestone for the Little League Organization in Lycoming County.
75 years ago, Little League got its start in Williamsport.
Friday evening, the city threw a major celebration for what is now the largest youth sports organization in the world.
West Fourth Street was packed to the gills in Williamsport as a crowd of roughly 900 people gathered outside the Community Arts Center.
It was a celebration to mark the 75th anniversary of Little League, created right here in Williamsport, now the area that is home to the Little League World Series.
For today’s young ball-players, they say it’s a very important part of their lives.
“Because we get to interact and it’s the one way that we sort of get free time to go out and do what I want,” said Nelson MacDonald, a Williamsport Area Little Leaguer.
“You meet new friends and you have a connection with them that you don’t have with your friends at school, so you meet a lot of people and you get to go to a lot of new places and stuff,” said Isabella Barone, also a Williamsport Area Little Leaguer.
The first ball game was played on June 6th, 1939 on a field behind what is now Historic Bowman Field.
It was founded by Carl E. Stotz, and his daughter was among the celebration’s honored guests.
“It was something really the family did together. I was a little girl, my sister was a little older and my mother helped right along with my dad. It was family affair from day one,” said Karen Stotz Myers.
Today, 2.4 million children play Little League in 80 countries, with the best teams converging in South Williamsport for the World Series each year.
“The mission of the program hasn’t changed in 75 years. It’s still about kids in the community playing baseball with their friends,” said Stephen Keener, the president and CEO of Little League.
Also honored were seven of the original players from the first three teams Stotz put together.
Richard Ahuser played for Jumbo Pretzel.
“I am sure that when we started playing in a cinder field with a little grass thrown in, matter of fact, I don’t think the founder of Little League ever thought it would get this big,” said Ahuser.
Also at the anniversary celebration, the Little League Organization presented Susquehanna Health a grant of $150,000 to help create the new Little League Kids Zone at the Hospitality Inn at Williamsport Hospital.