In the late summer of 1938, Carl E. Stotz devised a condensed playing field suitable for children with sixty feet base paths and forty-six feet from the pitcher’s mound to home plate. The following year, Carl Stotz established the basis for Little League Baseball by devising a small league of three teams in which children were able to play organized baseball using his new field metrics. During the first three years of the league, construction at Williamsport’s Memorial Park forced the teams to play at other available locations. Upon conclusion of the construction in 1942, the small league began playing at the Original Little League field consistently. This original field served as the site of Little League Baseball until the construction of Howard J. Lamade Stadium in 1958, in South Williamsport.
Located on West Fourth Street in Williamsport PA, the Carl E. Stotz field serves as the birthplace of Little League Baseball. The youth baseball league had rather humble beginnings as Stotz gathered kids for the league by speaking in local Sunday schools. Local businesses sponsored the original three teams after Stotz had asked for charitable donations for the purchasing of uniforms and equipment. The teams were named after the businesses that provided donations to the new league: Lycoming Dairy, Lundy Lumber, and Jumbo Pretzel. On June 6, 1939, the first Little League game commenced, in which Lundy Lumber defeated Lycoming Dairy by a score of twenty-three to eight. Lycoming Dairy would later go on to secure the season’s first half title and defeated the second half champion, Lundy Lumber, in a best-of-three series.
Stotz’s organized baseball games were significantly different from the various pickup games played by the local children. Unlike the “neighborhood games” haphazardly thrown together, Stotz promised the children clean uniforms and a new ball for every game. In addition to the opportunity to play organized baseball for the first time, the children involved in the youth baseball organization were occasionally able to go on trips. One trip in particular involved traveling to New York City in 1940 for the World’s Fair and a game between the Yankees and the Athletics.
As Little League Baseball grew in popularity, volunteers constructed various details of the original field throughout the 1940's, including dugouts and bleachers. While the organization began with only three teams, the formation of local leagues began to occur throughout the country during the mid 1940’s. In 1947, the Original Little League Field hosted the first Little League World Series tournament to determine a champion between the seventeen leagues presently formed. Starting in 1951, international teams began to participate in the competition, with a team from Montreal, Canada being the first to compete in Williamsport. A team from Monterry, Mexico became the first international team to win the Little League title in 1957, one year prior to the construction of Howard J. Lamade stadium.
While Little League Baseball would eventually develop into a national spectacle during the month of August, Stotz parted ways with Little League Baseball in 1956. He had become dissatisfied with the growth of commercialism and the apparent presence of fierce competition between teams. He believed that these elements of Little League detracted from the original goal of providing the opportunity for enjoyable, healthy play among young children. For many years, the Little League Organization failed to recognize Stotz as the founder. Thus, a rift developed between Little League and the Stotz family. This rift was only seemingly resolved when Little League president Steve Keener began to develop a postive relationship with the family in the late 1990's and a statue of Stotz was placed in the Little League complex in 2001.
Despite cutting ties with Little League Baseball, Stotz maintained his affiliation with the with the Original Little League. Other than his involvement in the small Original Little League, Stotz remained in Williamsport to serve as a tax collector and raise his family, until his death in 1992. In the present day, six teams continue to play in the Original Little League on Carl E Stotz field. On December 3, 2014, the field was placed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its significance in the birth of Little League baseball.