Kids’ baseball is an esteemed American tradition that resonates with fathers, who fondly recall its importance in their own youth. Little League serves as a crucial platform for teaching valuable life skills and fostering social connections. This cherished league represents a quintessentially American experience, and now the global community embraces and appreciates all things traditionally American, including the sport of baseball.
Little League, despite its detractors, is an amazing institution. Some argue that it places too much emphasis on competition and that less-skilled children should receive greater playing opportunities. Moreover, there are concerns about the potential for injuries occurring. However, I personally believe that Little League offers a fantastic opportunity for growth and development during the transition to adulthood.
It instructs children in various valuable skills, including organization, division of labor, cooperation, and competition. The concept of organization entails nine kids functioning as a single unit under one main coach. The notion of division of labor requires these same nine kids to undertake distinct tasks and responsibilities. Furthermore, they must collaborate with one another in order to overcome the opposing team in competitive situations.
Varga’s Drugstore versus Kiwanis can be seen as a smaller version of Compaq competing against IBM, or General Motors challenging Ford. This comparison highlights the unique American nature of Little League and its role in preserving the country’s unmatched value system of “free enterprise”. Despite critics arguing that LL poses risks, it is important to remember that danger and risk exist in all aspects of life. If we were to shield every child within a protective bubble, they would never have the opportunity to interact and learn from one another.
The text states that vocal critics of LL should avoid certain situations, such as crossing streets, walking down crowded aisles in Wal-Mart, mowing lawns, and driving to Wildwood on summer vacation, as something threatening could happen unexpectedly. However, the text argues that dangers exist everywhere and injuries in LL are accidental, not intentional. Despite this, the author admits to being fascinated by physical danger and competition in sports, which is why they love LL baseball.
1953: Played Hammonton Little League for the town Exchange Club. Coach: Mr. Reid. Teammate: Bruce Reid. Frank Reid would attend practices and assist his father with the players. Ironically, Frank’s son Scott later worked for me at my boardwalk arcade in Ocean City, Maryland twenty years later.
In my personal experience, I strongly believe that Little League (LL) fosters an understanding and appreciation for the American free-enterprise economic system. At the age of ten in 1953, achieving my first hit—a bunt single—filled me with excitement. A specific game stands out in my memory, where a player from the Dual Motors team, who was older than me, hit a high fly ball towards me in left field. Instinctively, I backed up towards the fence and gazed at the night sky above the lights. With closed eyes and trembling knees, to my astonishment, the ball landed flawlessly in my glove.
When I heard the fans cheering for me from both sides of the field, it was a moment that boosted my confidence. This experience helped me realize that staying in a protected environment would have never allowed me to achieve such growth. Back in 1953, it was typical for kids to leave their baseball gloves on the field during breaks between innings. The memories of playing baseball at Hammonton New Jersey Lake Park at night still bring excitement to my mind, similar to how the Phillies and A’s played at Shibe Park, later known as Connie Mack Stadium. Being a part of a league that had won the prestigious Little League World Championship just four years before in 1949 made it all even more incredible.
In the late summer, my family moved to Levittown, Pennsylvania. I had to make new friends and find a new baseball team. In the spring of ’54, I joined Meenan Oil. Many kids were competing for a spot on the team. To become the starting second baseman, I had to outperform eight opponents. This tough competition motivated me to display my skills and ultimately win the starting position.
I had the opportunity to play under the guidance of Coach Siegel, who, like Coach Reid, found fulfillment in working with children. Both coaches, along with the majority of adults involved in Little League, were dedicated community members who selflessly volunteered their time and energy to assist young individuals in their development and achievements. In 1955, my companion Mike Hunter and I were chosen from Meenan Oil to join the Levittown National League All-Star Team. Our opponents were our fierce adversaries from the American League team, but we managed to emerge victorious in the match.
After defeating another team, my National League All-Star Team faced Morrisville. In this team, there were two tall kids who measured six-feet-three: Dick Hart, who later played as a lineman for the Eagles, and Tommy Keyser, the pitcher. Both players were quite intimidating. The game was intense, but then Hart hit a ball extremely high towards the centerfielder. When the ball eventually descended, it tore through Jerry Friedrich’s glove webbing. By the time the ball hit the ground, Hart had already reached third base. He then casually jogged home, scoring the winning run.
Despite my initial devastation over Levittown National’s loss, my perspective shifted when Morrisville emerged as the winners of the Little League World Championship at Williamsport. I avidly followed their games on the radio and became a devoted Morrisville fan that summer of ’55, despite being defeated by them. In reflection, it appears that one of the valuable lessons Little League imparts to children is learning how to cope with failure and exhibit sportsmanship.
During the 1960 Little League World Series, I was excited to see Levittown, Pa. emerge as the victor. This victory brought me joy because my hometown of Hammonton, NJ had previously won the championship in 1949. Additionally, I had witnessed a talented team from Morrisville, Pa. claim the title in 1955. Furthermore, I had always supported Levittown, Pa.
The memories of the American League squad that won the championship in 1960 will always stay with me as long as I live. From 1954 to 1960, these unforgettable events could only occur in America.