COLUMNS

Little League baseball

sharonbaumbaugh

By SHARON BAUMBAUGH

The Playground Committee organized a Junior Baseball League for boys under age 16, with Sunday Schools as units during the summer of 1924.   Five teams were formed and the managers and captains were chosen.   United Brethren, Grace Reformed, Evangelical Lutheran, Methodist Episcopal and Otterbein United Brethren would be the members.

In the summer of 1935 a 'Dizzy Dean' junior baseball club would be organized in Greencastle.   On a Monday in June, all youngsters between the ages of 8 and 14 were invited to meet with William P. 'Bill' Conrad at the Jerome R. King Playground.

A Greencastle Little League Baseball organization was formed in November 1955.   Robert Brant, South Allison Street, was elected president of the new group.   Other officers were Harry Carl, first vice president; Ott Beckner, second vice president; the Rev. David Kyler, secretary; and James Divelbiss, treasurer.   The meeting was held in the Citizens National Bank on North Carlisle Street, with 22 adults and 10 youngsters attending.    Teams were to be formed for the following season.

There had been talk for some time in town, among those adults who had played the game, whether that was with a high school team or some other club or organization sponsored entity.   The time had finally come when the men came together to get things started.

In January, the newly formed Greencastle Little League was seeking sponsors, any of those people, businesses or organizations that would be interested in financially backing a team.   There were uniforms to buy and equipment to stockpile.

The first season would open May 30 with four sponsored teams.   Officials hoped to expand by the following year.

A Tag Day for the benefit of the league would be held May 19, 1956.   All proceeds from the sale of tags would go toward supporting the teams.

They began those first games on a Wednesday that month with ceremonies that included the raising of the American Flag by a Color Guard from the Harry D. Zeigler Post 6319 Veterans of Foreign Wars.   The Dodgers would defeat the Yankees 4-1, in front of a very large crowd of fans at Baer Field along North Washington Street extended.

In July, Fulton Gsell, area contractor, graded a parking lot which was put to use by the Little League.   Gsell donated his time and equipment to perform the necessary work.

The play would begin again the next year   May 30, Memorial Day, with appropriate ceremonies.   Serving as president of the organization during this time was Jim Divelbiss.   At the end of the season, officials of the League issued a statement thanking the citizens of Greencastle, who had contributed so much to the success of the baseball program.

The board of directors of the League approved the addition of another team to be sponsored by the local plant of Corning Glass Works.   The league, started five years earlier with four teams,   now would have six teams, the Cubs having been added the previous year.   Gus Triandos, star catcher for the Baltimore Orioles, would present officials of the Corning company with a certificate of sponsorship of the latest addition to the local play.   The Little League Orioles were officially added at a reorganization meeting.   The star big leaguer would also offer a brief address to the boys who attended.

In 1961, 90 local youngsters ranging in age from eight through 12 submitted applications to play in the Little League.   The announcement was made at a meeting of officials held in the North Carlisle Street home of Andrew McLanahan, president.

Greencastle Little League All-Stars would play the Caledonia-Quincy team on a Saturday in August in the Tommy Miller Fund Game.   Miller, 13-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul D. Miller of South Carlisle Street, had been unable to play that year due to illness.

The following year Wayne Hartman was elected president; Richard Clary, vice president;   Charles Lehman, second vice president; Robert Johnson, secretary; and Ordean Sellers, treasurer.

In October 1963, Jim Gentile, star first baseman for the Orioles, was the speaker at the banquet of the Little and Pony League players, coaches and parents.   The gathering was held at the Greencastle Sportsman's Farm.

Russell Clever, president of the Greencastle Pony League in 1965, announced that a reorganization meeting would be held.   Those planning to attend were asked to meet at the First National Bank community room.

Two years later, president of the Little League Robert Horst, said, 'The Little League is on the verge of dissolving due to the lack of adult support.'

That same year the All-Star team would represent Greencastle in a tournament scheduled for Mercersburg.   Players were Wally Miller, Dave Christophel, Mike Stockslager, Gary Stockslager, Danny Walck, Paul Wolfe, Kirk Rowe, Carroll Hartman, Chris Sellers, Gary Shives, Jim Wertner, Tommy Statler, Denny Bingaman, Terry Plum, Rick Reeder, Gary Zeger; manager was Sonny Rowe and the coaches would be James Houpt Sr. and Robert Goss. The batboy for the team was Daryl Freshman.   All eight little league teams were represented.

Next, there was an organization of a minor baseball league to work in association with the Greencastle-Antrim Little League.   It was assured during a March 1968 meeting held in the assembly room of the First National Bank.   The instructional league for younger players would begin with the new season.   Members of the planning committee were Robert Horst, Fred Peiffer, William Finafrock, James Houpt and Richard Clary.   A chief umpire was appointed to formulate a set of ground rules.

In 1969 10 poles and 60 lights were installed at the Little League Field.   Cost on the project was estimated to be $3,500.   Work would begin and would be under the supervision of Richard Walck of the Potomac Edison force.   Equipment from Grove Manufacturing Company would be used to set the poles.   Officers of the League at this time were Harold Zimmerman, president; William Gingrich, vice president; Gerald Zisa, secretary; and Charles 'Whitey' Barkdoll, treasurer.

A ceremony would be held in June, at the Little and Pony League fields on North Washington Street, when the lights installed were turned on and dedicated.   The ceremony would precede a game between the Orioles and the Pirates.

A Greencastle-Antrim Little League Auxiliary had been formed.   In 1971, officers and team mothers were named for the coming season.   Retiring officers were Bonnie Kendall, Norma Jean Ingream and Alma Oberholzer.   New officers elected were:   Sandy Matthews, president; Bernice Walck, vice president; and Hope Kuhns, secretary.   Team mothers were Rella Keller, Nellie Stahl, Celia Ryder, Doris Peiffer, Mary Lou Kline, Esther Freeman, Donna Miller and Janet Christophel.

The Pirates were the winner at the end of season play for the National Division with 22 wins and only two loses.   They beat the Yankees, winners of the American Division in 1973.   Playing for the Pirates were Kevin Bricker, Rodney Roadcap, Mark Souders, Frank Hudson, Jeff Baker, Carl Helman, Rick Zeger, Ed Simmers, Jeff Key, Wayne Lutz, Tony Hoover, Martin Souders and Doug Christophel.   Manager was Richard   Clary and coaches were Melvin Roadcap and Bob Goetz.   Yankees players that year were Paul Tressler, Carl Dixon, Brian Cordell, John Zisa, Lewis Rischel, Roger Stahl, Dale Tressler, Mike Stouffer, Steve Myers, Milton Smothers and Doug Starliper.   Manager was Emory Stahl with coaches Manuel Dixon and Ronald Starliper.

The Little League would sponsor an all-girls' Softball League, following formation of rules and regulations in April 1975.   Sign-up would be held April 10 in the First National Bank's room.   All girls from the age of 8 through 12 who were interested in playing softball were asked to attend.   Mothers were encouraged to attend the meeting to become involved by helping or coaching.

Most dads and sons 'join' Little League together, that is when the boy becomes a team member, Dad volunteers as coach, scorekeeper, umpire or fan; same could now be said of mothers and daughters.   But when 8 year-old Kevin Clary, Walter Avenue, moved from minor to Little League play in 1979, he had a way to go to catch up to his dad.   Dick Clary had been managing a ball team for 22 years.

Following that start in 1955, there came the Pony League and organized softball for girls.   That first group became the Greencastle Junior Baseball Association in 1985; a Colt League was added in 1991; and a girls' Minor League formed in 1994.   Today, during the summer months, the three fields are full of boys and girls playing ball with parents and grandparents living on steamers and french fries and younger brothers and sisters waiting their turn to play.   Play is also found at State Line Park and at Antrim Community Park.   The big problem when spring practice begins is finding enough 'other' fields to teach the fundamentals to or scrimmage between, all those teams.