Little League Baseball Storage and The Story of Carl Stotz
So winter is over, and nothing says Spring quite like the crack of a baseball bat, or the sound of a ball hitting a glove! Here at The Storage Inn self storage in Egg Harbor Township New Jersey, we get a visit every spring by our local Little League team to retrieve their baseball gear from the two storage units they rent. Coach Friedman stopped into the storage rental office to say hello, and we got to talking about the origin of little league baseball.
”I know the story of Abner Doubleday, and his inventing the game of baseball, but do know how little league baseball came about?” I asked coach Friedman. “Just so happens that I have a pamphlet in my truck that we hand out to the parents of our kids when they sign up for Little League – I’ll grab you one” said the coach. I read up on the subject between storage rentals and here is what I learned about the history of little league baseball.
Carl E. Stotz, was a Williamsport Pennsylvania lumberyard clerk who came up with the idea for Little League baseball when he stumbled over a lilac bush during a backyard game of catch with his two young nephews in 1938.
Mr. Stotz, a lifelong Williamsport resident who later served as tax collector there, never tired of describing the summertime mishap that launched the vast Little League game now played by more than 2.5 million youngsters in more than 30 countries. As he frequently recalled, “I banged my leg against a bush, and while I sat on the back steps letting the pain subside, I asked my nephews… How would you like to play on a regular team with uniforms, your own cap, a new ball for every game and bats your size?!”
A few weeks later he crammed most of the neighborhood into his 1934 Plymouth and set out in search of the perfect field. By the end of the summer he had devised the stripped-down, boys’-sized dimensions at the core of Little League’s eventual spectacular success: 60 feet between the bases (two-thirds of the major league distance) and 46 feet from the pitcher’s mound to home plate (instead of 60 feet 6 inches).
By the next summer, Mr. Stotz had recruited sponsors for three teams, and on June 6, 1939, on a field he laid out himself, Lundy Lumber beat Lycoming Dairy, 23-8, and Little League baseball was born.
The league expanded and quickly spread across the country. There was a Pennsylvania state tournament in 1947, and two years later a national championship when the first Little League World Series was held.
Carl Stotz even established his own museum in a converted toolshed behind his house. In a place of honor among the other original Little League memorabilia he installed a glass case containing the very lilac bush that gave the game its start.
To this day, The Little League World Series is played in Williamsport Pennsylvania, drawing thousands of visitors to the tiny Mountain town.
So dust off your gloves, grab your bat and ball, and let’s head out to the field for some baseball. I’ll have to be very careful as I prepare to leave The Storage Inn rental office for the baseball field. We have quite a few lilac bushes around here – Play Ball!