Withstanding the test of time!!

Friday, June 27, 2008
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca Lucas Pruitt tags out Tyler McClendon trying to score from second.

Next year, the Little League will be celebrating their 60th year anniversary nationwide, cementing the belief of one man named Carl E. Stotz on a bright summer day in Williamsport, Pa. in 1939 that the three core Little League values of Character, Courage, and Loyalty, and the sheer fun of the game would spread throughout the United States into small towns like Lewisburg, Cornersville, and Chapel Hill, becoming a mainstay in American culture.

The Marshall County Little League was not far behind, forming in 1954 and officially chartered by the Little League in 1961. The first steering committee members were Richard Cashion, Ed Wiles, Charles Hardison, and Ed Bailey. There are reports that Bailey used his house as collateral to buy the land on Belfast Road, the site of the second location for Little League play. Before Belfast, the Little League played their games at Joe George Field. In 1992 the League moved to its present location, playing half their games there before making the full move the following season when all four fields were complete.

The MCLL has remained one of the true pillars of youth activities in the county. Many things have changed over the years, but what will forever remain intact is the pure joy of watching kids play the game with an indescribable youthfulness that each of us who has participated in playing, coaching, umpiring, or volunteering covets within us.

A five year old who takes the field for the first time has the same butterfly stomach as the senior league girl, taking the field this year at the age of sixteen, for the last time.

Relationships, revelry, and rivalries seem to flow like the ocean's tides, steady and strong, feeding the lineage of what makes the Little League special.

MCLL grooms the youngsters in the 5 and 6 year old league with pitching from the coach, getting them ready for the decade of ball in front of them. In the early cool and sometimes downright cold days in the spring, play begins and lasts deep into the scorching heat of July.

Regular season play has always pitted one team against another, creating decade long rivalries that have lasted until today. Split three ways like a bag of Pixy Stix candy straws between three bickering brothers, Marshall County's three towns all share the sweet taste of success come All-Star season when the players on the teams come together for the common cause of representing this great county in post-season play.

Coaches seem to work things out to work together, preparing the montage of the league's best players for battle with other leagues from around the state. Players get to know each other a lot better, sharing many a sleepover at each other's houses during the period. Coaches who have seen these players perform all year get a chance to hone their skills just a little bit more and meld them together in just a short time frame, sometimes as little as one week, to go on the road as a family.

MCLL has won its share of state titles, the first boy's title coming in 1980, followed by another a decade later in 1990. The girls have also brought home the gold seven times, beginning in 1998 (11-12's), followed by titles in 2000 (11-12's and 9-10's), 2003 (9-10's and senior league), 2004 (senior league), and in 2006 (11-12's).

Many stars such as Mike Lintz, Tori Wolaver, Dwight Robinson, Gaby Bussell, Boo Gentry, Jill and Jessica Rickman, Haley Fagan, Ty Curley, Danielle Hooper, Emmitt Quarles, Tiffany Andrews, Allison Applegate, McKenna Moffett, Steve Reese, Meredith Stacey, Kevin McGehee, and Jason Maxwell, plus a myriad more have chased down balls in the outfield, dug balls out of the dirt at first, donned hot catching gear, thrown heat and junk from the circle and hill, and have stroked long balls, line drives, and bloop hits.

Thousands have passed through the gates of the Little League.

These are just a sliver, the list goes on and on, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters and grandparents and grandchildren have become the DNA of the MCLL.