|J.H. Ashdown Hardware Company Limited. Winnipeg, Manitoba. 1953 Catalogue.|
Look at the signature on the baseball above. Carl Stotz founded the American Little League in 1939. He remained Commissioner of the League until 1956, when he left in protest over expansion plans for the league. As Joe Mathews wrote in his 1997 piece in The Baltimore Sun:
Stotz, who started the very first Little League in 1939, believed that Little League Baseball Inc., the federally chartered non-profit organization that administers more than 7,000 Little Leagues around the world, has become too big and too corporate, more concerned with public relations and TV revenues than the experiences of the 3 million children who participate annually. Stotz so disliked the World Series, in fact, that he never visited Lamade Stadium where World Series games are played -- even though admission is free and he lived only 3 miles away.
The World Series, he said in 1989, "takes away from the sport what Little League is all about, a chance to play neighborhood baseball."Sound familiar? Mathews continues:
"He was not a businessman. He was a laborer," says Karen Stotz Myers, the younger of his two daughters. "He never ran anything besides Little League. And he was always determined that parents and volunteers, not he, would be running it. Little League was a common man's creation."
While he was not sophisticated, Stotz was unshakable in his values. In those heady days, Stotz turned down a $1,000 fee to appear on TV's "This Is Your Life" after he learned a cigarette company was among its sponsors. Commercialism and professionalism were fine for business, he often said, but Little League should abide neither.
Quite the guy, Carl Stotz. A rare man then, nowadays rarer still.