PITTSTON — The WVIA Original Documentary Film, “Little League: A History,” narrated by legendary baseball broadcaster Vin Scully, chronicles and celebrates Little League’s 75-year contribution to American culture and to the quality of life for millions around the world, is set to premiere at 7 p.m. June 9 on WVIA-TV and throughout the summer on PBS stations across the country.
The world’s largest organized youth sports program grew from a lilac bush, tripped over in the summer of 1938 by Carl Stotz, a young-at-heart uncle playing catch with his nephews in his hometown of Williamsport.
Stotz promised the boys he’d find a field they could play on that was scaled for their size, and that they’d have uniforms and proper equipment. Then he set out to make good on his promise, and in doing so he would make history. The first Little League game was played in Williamsport on June 6, 1939, and the original league had three teams and 30 players.
Today, more than 2 million boys and girls play Little League Baseball and Softball. Local leagues can be found in every state and worldwide in more than 80 countries. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers manage, coach, or in some way support the organization.
The documentary features appearances by former Little League players, historians and to impart a human touch to the historical highlights. Interviewees include: President George W. Bush, the only President to have played Little League; Allan “Bud” Selig, Major League Baseball Commissioner; former Los Angeles Dodger Owner Peter O’Malley; current Seattle Mariners’ manager Lloyd McClendon; current Cincinnati Reds star Todd Frazier; John Thorn, the official historian for Major League Baseball; former NASA Space Shuttle Commander Story Musgrave; James Gehron, nephew of Little League founder Carl Stotz and one of the two boys for whom Stotz invented Little League in 1939; Karen Stotz Myers and Monya Stotz Adkins, Carl Stotz’s daughters; Kathryn “Tubby” Johnston Massar, considered to be the first girl to ever play Little League in 1951; and three surviving members of the original Little League team formed in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1939.
The production was shot on-location in 11 states and in Japan, and includes many archival photographs that capture Little League’s history and are being presented on television for the first time.
“Millions of Americans know about Little League,” remarks WVIA’s Creative Director for Documentary Films Greg Matkosky. “Yet the intimate intensity of those memories often overshadows an awareness of Little League’s extraordinary evolution and contemporary dimension. The film reintroduces America to one of its own iconic institutions, and reminds us of how powerful a bond the game of baseball is between generations.”
“For 75 years and counting, Little League has brought families, neighbors, and whole communities together to cheer on and support their teams,” said WVIA Public Media President, CEO and Executive Producer Tom Currá. “Now through the efforts of our Emmy award winning team, ‘Little League: A History’ goes deep past the fences of your neighborhood ballpark into the American institution that is Little League.”