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A Brief History of the
Emmitsburg Little League

John Allen Miller


Spring is the season for that all so famous sport of baseball. Maybe it's the warmer sunny days or maybe it's the cookouts that we have in our back yards, but one thing is for sure: baseball fever sets in. I have always loved to watch the Baltimore Orioles play and, yes, I have been caught up in many Orioles games before. Just ask my wife; she'll tell you what it's like around here when a game is on. I also loved to watch the Frederick Keys play. I was there at Harry Grove Stadium a lot when I was a teenager. Heck, to this day I still collect baseball cards, although most of them are Orioles cards. Now, I have my favorite players that are non-Orioles, such as the ex-New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants Pitcher, Dave Righetti, and Second Basemen, Ryan Sandberg, who played for the Chicago Cubs.

I never played baseball as a sport in high school, but, since my oldest son has shown a great interest in the sport, I signed him up for the Little League. This was the best thing that I could have done for him. I even became an assistant coach for his team, the Fairfield Blue Jays. The Little League has shown him how to work hard to achieve his goals-even at the age of seven. He has practiced and practiced and, what do you know? He slams those balls while his teammates cheer him on when he's at bat. That's how he became a member of the All-Star team. For me, being an assistant coach for his team is a small price for me to pay in order to see him have fun and enjoy the sport.

T. C. Bittle & Thornton Rodgers watching
a baseball game ~ 1922

When it comes down to preserving the town's heritage, the Emmitsburg Historical Society hits the ball passed home plate-from local businesses, to people, to military aspects, to personal memories of its town's residents. However, one topic has slipped into the cracks and that is the Emmitsburg Little League. Sports have played a major role in our society since its creation; however, no sport in our history even comes closer than baseball. From the days of Babe Ruth to Cal Ripkin, Jr., there is nothing more enjoyed than sitting in the grand stands eating peanuts, having a beer or two, and watching a game of baseball. As the Emmitsburg Little League turns fifty this year (2005), I feel that it should be documented and preserved for all time.

I want to thank Mrs. Marry Topper for her contributions of the time spent collecting articles from the Emmitsburg Chronicle (From 1955-2002.) Without her help, this article would not be possible. Although my son and I are members of the Fairfield District Little League, I want to say what a great game we've played against Emmitsburg in 2004.

The Beginning Years 1955-1959

On January 28, 1955, the Emmitsburg Chronicle ran an article headlined "Lions Club Will Sponsor Little League." This was the beginning phase of what would become the Emmitsburg Little League, as we know it today. At a meeting in the Lutheran parish hall, president J. Ralph McDonnell discussed the possible creation of a boys little league. It was voted that the Lions Club would sponsor at least one team to be called the Emmitsburg Little League, which would operate independently (scheduling games with nearby towns and also with Emmitsburg's own teams) and not becoming part of the Official National Little League. Mr. Paul Claypool, who was general chairman at the time of the little league project, announced that he had enlisted many volunteers who were willing to help coach, manage, and direct the clubs. Heading the committee for the organization and formation of a team(s) were Herbert W. Rogers, George L. Wilhide, John J. Hollinger, and Mr. Claypool himself among other volunteers.

As the plans for Little League progressed, by March, five men were interested in managing (Coach) Emmitsburg's Little League Teams: James McKeon, Carlos Englar, Jack Rosensteel, Chick Topper, and T. C. Harbaugh. To make the league work, it needed funding. They ordered $150.00 worth of equipment for the four teams to be created. Canisters were placed at local businesses for the collection of donations in the hope of raising at least $1000.00 to pay for the complete equipping of the four teams and other maintenance items throughout the season. The members of the four teams also sold booster tickets in effort to help raise the money they needed.

Advertisements and schedules for the project were hung in the local stores around Emmitsburg, waiting for public interest. Sources confirmed that a list of at least 75 candidates was received by March 25, 1955. The majority of the children playing baseball that year came from three local schools in the Emmitsburg District: St. Euphemia's, Emmitsburg Public School, and St. Anthony's.

By April, a meeting was held to discuss registration, practice, and game schedules for the coming season. To be eligible to play, children had to be between the ages of 8 and 12 years old, with a deadline of August 1 for children whose birthdays were approaching. For the first season, they also planned to use the Emmitsburg Civic Association grounds (east of town where horse shows were held). By April 1, at least 175 boys were eligible for competition; however, only 60 boys would play baseball through the season after passing their tryouts. Shortly afterwards the equipment for the teams arrived.

May 13, as tryouts finished up, Mr. Claypool announced that 56 children would field with the four teams and that 11 managers and coaches had been chosen for the task of leading the teams for the season. They were named after the professional baseball organizations as follows:

The Official 1955 Roster

The Giants: Dennis Daly, Bill Wilvell, Butch Myers, Terry Byard, Fred Trent, Bob Louis, Mike Kelly, Ronald Stouter, Gene Lingg, Bob Zimmerman, Sonny Tooper, Gene Miller, Pat Zimmerman, and Tom Plunkett. Coaches: Dick Harner and Carlos Englar.

The Yankees: George Wagaman, James Hewitt, Carlos Englar Jr., Dennis McLauhlin, Allen Beale, Dennis Joy, Ernest Sweeny, Edward Meadows, Terry Fleagle, Clarence Umble, James Houck, Jack Topper, James Wills, Austin Umble. Coaches: Jack Rosensteel and Chick Topper.

1956 Yankee team Photo courtesy of Charlie Bowers
(Click on photo for larger version)

The Cards: Robert Beale, Robert Gingell, Wayne Hawks, Kenneth Swomley, David Eversole, Wilbur Topper, James Topper, Don Sweeney, Allen Beale, Don Fisher, Robert Wills, Robert Wagaman, and Joe Beale. Coaches: Leonard Zimmerman and Edward Lingg.

The Red Sox: Mike Roddy, Jack Dillon, Harry Harner, Steve Wilhide, Fred Hawk, Bill Zimmerman, Barry Rosensteel, Ed Orndorff, Harry Maddox, Bob Rosensteel, Jack White, Joe Elliott, and Robert Eyler. Coaches: "Tip" Harbaugh and Jim McKeon.

On June 19, a meeting was held at the fire hall announcing that a section of the Community Field was obtained for the youngsters to practice. The season was fast approaching and the necessary actions needed to be taken if the first season was to be successful. Mr.Claypool also announced that adequate coaching was obtained and that 65 local schoolboys had signed and were ready to participate. Mr. Guy R. McGlaughlin, who was the president of Pen-Mar's Little League, was to head Emmitsburg's Little League as president. Team uniforms were ordered and were scheduled to arrive by July.

Little League games were scheduled every Tuesday and Thursday evening, with the game time starting at 6:15 p.m. Umpire positions were given to local men interested in the sport. John J. Hollinger, Allen Bouey, Dr. W. R. Cadle, George F. Rosensteel, Thomas F. Sayler, William F. Sterbinsky, Frank S. Topper, and James J. Phelan were appointed by Vincent Topper who was the chairman of the umpiring committee.

Selected to umpire the first game on Tuesday evening was John J. Hollinger who was behind first plate. Also umpiring the game will be George F. Rosensteel and James J. Phelan. Thursday Vincent Topper and William F. Sterbinsky umpired the night's game.

By June 24, the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported that the Cardinals had taken the opening game beating the Yankees 4-0. The Chronicle also reported that a fairly good turnout support the Little League players at the community field. Mayor Thornton Rodgers, who tossed out the first ball while the Boy Scouts raise the flag, conducted the activities with ceremonies. The Emmitsburg Municipal Band under the direction of Walter Simpson provided music. The teams had outstanding pitching with the Cardinals allowing only four hits and of which they had two doubles to lead.

July 1, the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported that the Giants broke open a tie ballgame in the fifth inning by scoring three runs, dropping the Yankees into the cellar of the Emmitsburg Little League. By July 4, at Community Field, the biggest crowd turnout to watch the League play a doubleheader in their brand-new uniforms. The first game was the Red Sox versus the Yankees, and the Yankees lost 8-1. During the second game had to be called because it was too dark at the end of the fourth inning, leaving the Cardinals in first place in the League standing winning against the Giants 8-2.

During the later part of July, the officials of the image were asking public assistance for the Little League to help in getting the new field ready, which was under construction. The new baseball field was 200 x 300 feet in dimension. Permission was granted by St. Joseph's College to use its grounds that were adjacent to the community field.

At the end of the season, during the last game up for Little League championships, the Cardinals defended their final, winning 12-9 against the Red Sox who were the runners-up. All players were asked to wash their uniforms and to return them to their managers or to Houck's.

During April of 1956, Dr. W. R. Cadle was elected as president of the Emmitsburg Little League. A report given at a committee meeting reveals that nearly $1000 had been raised and spent in maintaining the league, which went for player insurance, for maintaining the field, and for the uniforms. It was also announced that the new playing field had been donated by the Sisters of Charity of the St. Joseph Central House; the deed that had been drawn up and given to the Mayor and the Commissioner's board stated that it was given at no cost. The Emmitsburg Little League also joined the national group. The annual financial report was given and presented as follows for 1955:


  • Bank account balance $187.45
  • Cash on hand $5.44
  • Advertising from the Chronicle $150.00
  • Canister donations $82.15
  • Game refreshments $49.50
  • Town Civic club donations $217.61
  • Came donations $170.45
  • Other donations $20.00

Total income $1179.05


  • League franchise $219.00
  • Insurance $60.00
  • Uniforms and equipment $170.00
  • Donation jars $3.50
  • Printing $1.50
  • Field expense $339.34
  • Game receipts $7.50
  • Milk for players $4.80
  • Fence and painting $132.07

Bank balance at the time of this report $434.25

Total expenses $1179.00

According to an advertisement for Little League Baseball equipment during 1957, the necessary items needed to play were purchased from Gettysburg News and Sporting Goods on Chambersburg Street in Gettysburg, Pa.

Little League Items

  • Baseball Shoes $5.95
  • Baseball Bats $1.65 up
  • Baseball Caps $1.30 up
  • Little League Baseballs $1.19 up

By July of 1957, when the Emmitsburg Little League All-Stars played their first tournament on July 27 against Thurmont, the season was in full swing. Unfortunately, Thurmont overwhelmed Emmitsburg at a whopping 4-3 score.

As I was going through the information about the Little League in 1958, I soon realized that the articles were getting few and far between. Then I came across an article published in the Emmitsburg Chronicle dating April 25, 1958; it stated, "Adult interest in the league has dropped since the establishment's creation in 1955." The article doesn't state why there was a sudden lack of interest, but, when reading over the documents, I noticed that they deal mostly with sign up information for the up-coming season.

Also in 1958, for the first time, children who were eligible for participation in the upcoming season were required to bring a birth or baptism certificate as proof of age. Practices began shortly after registration and were held on Saturdays throughout the remainder of the school year. Official games began at the end of the school year and, due to the limited number of players who could play, sign ups were to be done as early as possible to guarantee the child's participation.

Elections were held and Tom Bollinger was elected president of the Emmitsburg Little League. The position of umpire in chief was given to Tom Gingell, Paul Claypool was named head of league financial activities, and Chick Topper was appointed to arrange the benefit bingo. Dr. W. R. Cadle was unable to serve as president that year.

In 1959, the players would not be certified to play unless the proper age certificates were presented. Officers were elected and Richard J. McCullough was elected as the league president; he remained president for many years afterwards. In the 1959 season, the Yankees were the dominant team in the Emmitsburg Little League.


In 1962, attempts were made to form a Babe Ruth baseball league with a large number of youths who declared their intentions of joining. At least 15 players were needed before the team could be granted a franchise. During the 1963 season, the Emmitsburg Little League sought donations to purchase a new wire fence for it's field at a cost of $10.00 a panel.

In 1965, Thomas C. Harbaugh was elected and served for several years as the League president. The Little League Park was renamed to McCullough Memorial Park and president Thomas C. Harbaugh planned a formal dedication. The agenda for the park maintenance was topsoil, a new wire fence from the backstop, and the dugouts complete with advertisement signs, which were repainted and a new backstop was added. Donations were also accepted to keep the Little League of Emmitsburg alive.

The public's interest was dropping fast during the 1960's. It seems that the Little League teams were suffering from this lack of public support. Most of the articles seem to repeat themselves throughout the 1960's, suggesting that funding for purchasing new equipment and help with the field were cut because of the lack of proceeds.

In 1966, the Emmitsburg Little League geared up for the All-Stars with a game played at Baker's Park and Frederick Maryland. However, the Emmitsburg Little League never saw the state championships.

In 1967, printed on April 21 in the Emmitsburg Chronicle, president Thomas C. Harbaugh announced a list of donors to the league as follows:

  • The American Legion
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Dr. W. R. Cadle
  • Walter and Edna Crouse
  • Charles F. Stouter
  • John "Buzz" Walter
  • Guy and Neal Sinclair
  • H. O. Toor Shoe Corp.
  • Mount St. Mary's College
  • Ralph F. Irelan
  • Frank Gebbert
  • Emmitsburg Pharmacy
  • Sperry Ford sales
  • Benard S. Kaliss
  • Frank S. Topper
  • Mount Manor Restaurant
  • Irwin Watkins
  • St. Joseph Church
  • 7-Up Bottling Co.

In 1968, a donation list was published for the first time so that the public could see firsthand who the donors were. The public donations list seemed to work in encouraging public businesses to donate. By May 9, 1969, the list had grown and president Thomas C. Harbaugh announced a list of donors to league for that year as follows:

  • Dr. W. R. Cadle
  • Walter and Edna Crouse
  • Charles F. Stouter
  • John "Buzz" Walter
  • Ralph F. Irelan
  • Emmitsburg Pharmacy
  • Sperry Ford sales
  • Benard S. Kaliss
  • St. Joseph Church
  • 7-Up Bottling Co.
  • J. W. Kerrigan
  • Flohr Lumber Company
  • B.H. Boyle and Sons
  • Emmitsburg F&M Bank
  • Wilson Funeral Home
  • Myers Radio & TV
  • Roger Liquor Store
  • Emmitsburg Chamber of Commerce
  • Emmitsburg Lions Club
  • Carroll Vending Inc.
  • The Towne Market
  • Blue Duck Inn
  • Freeman Shoe Company


In 1970, the Emmitsburg Little League was desperately in need of donations. Several letters were sent out to businesses and organizations asking for help in funding the 1970 season. They hoped that enough donations would be received to fund 60 new uniforms, in addition to replacing all the equipment, which was badly needed. A cry for help from the Little League stressed that, if anyone hadn't received a form for donation to the Little League, donations were desperately needed for the upcoming season.

The cry for donations was also a hot topic in 1971. During that year, a fifth team was added to the Emmitsburg Little league with support from the Knights of Columbus. The new team was named the Orioles.

In March of 1972, president Thomas Harbaugh wrote a letter to the editor of the Emmitsburg Chronicle stating that, due to personal reasons, he had to resign all his activities with the Little League. He wrote, "It hurts me very much to do this, but there is nothing I can do about it. I hope in the future you the citizens of Emmitsburg, will give your full support to league. This organization has lasted longer than any other thing that has ever happened in Emmitsburg. There is one thing I would like to mention before closing this letter. The parks and recreation committee of Emmitsburg has drawn up a plan for a new ball field and other recreation for this town. In their plans, I have read nothing about helping the Little League and I think they are making a grave mistake by not including the Little League in the plans. Thank you very much, Yours truly, Thomas Harbaugh."

Also 1972, a sixth team was added to the Little League organization. The new team was named the Dodgers. Ever since its creation in 1955, the Little League has expanded. This was considered a good thing because it showed that the citizens of Emmitsburg were interested in their younger citizens. Some changes were made with the most important change was that the games were being scheduled on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights. There might have been games scheduled for Friday night if was necessary. The league officers and managers felt that Friday nights should be eliminated when possible for the convenience of parents.

In March of 1974, Thomas Harbaugh resigned his position as president of the Little League. Bob Sayler was elected as the new president of the Emmitsburg Little League. In 1975, with the proceeds gained from the donations a concession stand was built and completed.

1985 Championships

In 1985, Emmitsburg took its first long-awaited district II championship. President Tom Ryan who has been an active member for the last 10 years said, "This is a big event for our community." The Emmitsburg team beat the American Little League of Frederick 12-0. Emmitsburg faced Frostburg in the District I Champion. Unfortunately, Emmitsburg lost the district against Frostburg. Nevertheless, the Emmitsburg Little League accomplished so much in 1985. With its success, the town was very proud of its Little League. Gene Valentine led Emmitsburg during the championship game with the American Little League of Frederick. The 1985 District II all-star team consisted of 14 players as follows:

  • Gene Valentine
  • Joel Grinder
  • Dwight Baumgardner
  • Chris Stahley
  • Tony Orndroff
  • Brian Dugan
  • Eddie Wantz
  • Brian Cool
  • Pat Valenti
  • Brian Hemler
  • Joe Andrew
  • Chris Wantz
  • Pat Topper
  • Kevin Shorb

Ending Note for Parents Whose Children Are Interested in Little League

As with any a hobby, there is a small price to pay. The commitment of time, funding, and volunteers (snack shack and coaching) is a small price that many parents face when they commit their children to little league baseball. Usually the cost of equipment overwhelms parents because kids usually want their own equipment.

Buying your child the equipment requires a little research. Buying a bat is really no problem. What you should do before buying a bat is to take your child to a store and let him or her look at the bats by feeling them for comfort. To determine the length of a bat for your child, all you must do is hold the bat up to your child's waist. If it passes the waistline, then it might be to long. Secondly, have your child hold the bat straight out to the side and count to twenty. This will determine whether the bat is too heavy. If your child can hold the bat straight out for that time, it's the right weight. Also, watch how your child stands before swinging. If the bat is too heavy, the barrel of the bat will start to lean down.. Remember, if you choose to buy your child a bat, try to get one that is close to what they use during practices and games. You don't need to buy a bat that costs a lot of money; a $20.00 one from Wal-mart or Kmart will do.

Catching gloves come in several sizes according to the child's age. Again, you don't need to buy an expensive glove to start out with. Take your child to the store and let him or her try on a couple of gloves to tell if it feels right. To big a glove on a small hand will make it difficult for to grasp the ball when trying to catch it. Get your child used to the glove once you buy it. I had my son take a rubber ball and throw it against the shed door. As it bounced back toward him, it would start breaking in that new glove and it also helped him to practice his throwing and catching, killing three birds with one stone. Ground balls seem to be a major problem for the young players, until I taught those on our team the triangle. This is done by spreading your legs apart enough to place the glove onto the dirt, forming a triangular pattern. Try to teach your child to keep the head down and to look with the eyes. When the child lifts the head up, the gloves are also lifted up and the ball ends up going past them.

Take your child to the ballpark and place him or her at every position in the infield, starting with first base and ending with third base. Now this is what you want to do. Start out by taking your child's bat and hitting a couple of ground balls to where he or she is standing. Get your child used to going after the ball. He or she will start catching on very quickly. Then hit or throw a couple of pop ups, this helps your child to learn the confidence he or she needs to catch the ball once it is in the air. Make your child throw the ball back to you because throwing is a major part of the game. This will teach your child to control throwing capabilities by aiming at the target.

Batting is hardly a problem for any of the children. Most children seem to enjoy batting better than any other part of the sport. I took my son to the batting cages to see where he needs help, such as positioning his body on home plate and determining what kind of bat works best for him. Swinging the bat is very simple and your child will know what to do with a practice session. Try to help your child and by taking him or her to the ball field to practice. Watch how he or she swings. You want your child to have nice even swings and, if he or she has to move the body to connect to the ball, then he or she will need to learn the strike zone. The same applies if your child tries to swing at a downward ball. This is usually what I call the golf swing. Remember nice even swings.

Be sure to cheer your child on; this shows your support for him or her. Tell your child that he or she did great out there and that you're proud of him or her when he or she does something good out on the field. If your child makes an error, don't yell, but tell what he or she did wrong by explaining it to and telling him or her how to correct it the next time. Little children have sensitive feelings; believe me, I know by watching other kids react, including my own son. Baseball is a sport and it is meant to be played for fun no matter who wins or loses a game. Remember, Little League is meant to be a learning experience; this slows your child how to work as part of a team.

Upon reading John Article above, David Welty of Emmitsburg sent us the following note:

From 1974 to 1976 I played baseball in Emmitsburg. Even though I lived outside of the town limits, I still wanted to play, so I rode my bike into town from Harney Road. Although I wasn't one of the better players, I still enjoyed the sport. When I started playing baseball in Emmitsburg I played for the Yankees. David Copenhaver was the manager and his coaches were Jim Kittinger and Larry Little. I knew I was struggling my first year, but I had no idea that it would be my only season with the Yankees.

The following spring, I was told that I would be leaving the Yankees and joining the player pool. It seemed like a demotion and that I just wasn't good enough at the time, but in the end it helped me improve. My younger sister decided to play baseball as well and she joined me for the season. We were coached by Mr. Donald Byard. Looking back, I can't think of many people who would have had the patience to coach the group of kids he was given.

I graduated from player pool my last season and played for the Red Sox. At the time Don Topper was the manager and Terry Myers helped coach. I can still remember riding my bicycle to the ball field to play in the All-Star game on July 4, 1976. I also remember that Dr. Cadle was honored during the July 4th ceremonies.

For the past four years I have coached for my son Michael's teams. My wife is also coaching and managed our younger son Patrick's team. With the start of the new season, the 9-12 year old players will be sanctioned with PONY league. Hopefully there will be no regrets for making the change. Change is hard for many people, but sometimes it is for the best.

Although my wife and I spend over half the year involved in some sort of baseball related activity, we think it is time well spent.

Have you own memories of the Emmitsburg Little League?
If so, send them to us at history@emmitsburg.net

Read other articles by John Miller