This year, Little League celebrates 75 years of organizing local baseball and softball leagues all over the world. Little League means a lot to kids–and also to the thousands of local businesses that sponsor teams in the U.S. and beyond.
With many independent Erie Insurance Agents coaching and sponsoring local youth sports groups, we wanted to take a look at what makes this organization such an important part of so many people’s lives.
The nonprofit sports organization began in Williamsport, Pa., in 1939. Founder Carl Stotz dreamed of an organization that taught boys (girls didn’t participate in Little League until 1974) the values of fair play and teamwork within the context of baseball. His dream came true as teams spread across Williamsport, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the United States and, eventually, the world.
As the facts below reveal, Stotz’s vision has left an enduring legacy.
1.Little League spans the globe. Today, 2.4 million boys and girls ages 4 to 18 play Little League in 83 countries and in all 50 states.
2. Little League helped inspire innovation. U.S. Rubber became Little’s League first corporate sponsor in 1949, which created a partnership that led to the development of the rubber-molded cleats still used today. What’s more, former Little League President and CEO Dr. Creighton J. Hale, Ph.D., helped develop the double-ear flap batter’s helmet, catcher’s helmet, chest protector with throat guard and the non-wood baseball bat.
3. The first girl to play Little League disguised herself as a boy. In 1950, Kathryn Johnston tucked her hair into her hat, renamed herself “Tubby” and joined a Little League team in Corning, N.Y. Her coach was so impressed with her skills that he let her stay on after she admitted the truth.
4. Lots of famous folks played Little League in their younger years. Just a few well-known former Little League players include Brad Pitt, Bruce Springsteen, Kevin Costner, Tom Selleck, Huey Lewis, Dave Berry, Bill Bradley, George W. Bush, Joe Biden and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
5. The Little League Baseball World Series is a big deal. A new attendance record was set in 2011 when 410,905 people attended the 31-game series in Williamsport, Pa. That’s a big crowd for a town of about 29,300!
Today, Little League continues to rely on sponsorships from local businesses to fulfill its mission. Many Erie Insurance Agents step up to the plate each year to support leagues in their community. Just one is Erie Insurance Agent Brian McCollum. He not only sponsors his former Little League team—he also collects mitts for disadvantaged youth in his community.