​Little League Baseball turns 75

This season marks the 75th anniversary of Little League Baseball.

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Coach Bill Geist back in the day.
CBS News
I was involved with Little League 12 of those 75 years - four as a player, and eight as a coach on this very diamond, in Ridgewood, N.J.

Like coaches today, we had to start with the basics: hitting. . . fielding . . . throwing . . . or just finding the ball.

But some things were not in the coach's manual, like how to pick a team.

One coach said, "I try and pick the kids that have the best-looking mothers!"

Nothing in the coach's manual about dealing with player grievances, like being banished to the outfield. "It stinks," said one young player. "Hardly anybody hits the ball here."

Kids have been complaining about playing the outfield since 1939, the year that the first Little League pitch was thrown in Williamsport, Pa.

"The first year we played, the field was a sandlot," said Tuck Frazier, who was there at the start, playing shortstop. "But we did have some bees out in right field, so you had to watch the right fielder now and then."

Is he proud of being in that first group? "Oh, yeah," said Frazier. "We were all friends, we're still all friends. We were lucky being in the right place at the right time."

Carl Stotz, a local lumberyard clerk, created Little League with a few bucks. The headquarters was in the trunk of his car.

"The first time I saw Carl, he came into our Sunday school class," recalled Frazier. "And he said, 'How would you guys like to play baseball with uniforms, have people watch you and have team?' There were three teams: Lycoming Dairy, Jumbo Pretzel, and Lundy Lumber."

Carl's idea was a hit -- a home run -- exploding with the baby boom and the Little League World Series, on network television!

Little League isn't all that little anymore.

"Today we have probably about 2.5 million kids playing on close to 200,000 teams in 85 countries," said Steven Keener, who presides over Little League International's headquarters and museum in Williamsport.

  • Bill Geist

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