SPORTS DIGEST by Bill Byham

Sport announcer and writer Bill Byham

Sport announcer and writer Bill Byham

LITTLE LEAGUE IN OFF FIELD BUSY PERIOD – It is sort of odd when you think about it. Our focus on Little League comes to the top in August of every year when the world comes walking into our front door with its 16 teams ready to play in the Little league World Series.By the end of August the decisions have been made. The teams have gone on home with one of them being a world champion. We have recorded that fact and have already shifted our focus to something called football or soccer or whatever.

What we don’t think about is Little League.

Until a series of events calls for Little League to speak out from its headquarters on Montgomery Pike in South Williamsport. This past week was one of those times when Little League, through a series of press releases, were asking us to look at them.

Mike Mussina is best known here and around the sports world as an achieving major league baseball pitcher. He would probably be the first to admit that his career in baseball started on the Montoursville Little League Field. He played through his early years, moved to the Little League Senior program and into Montoursville High School baseball.

These were the years when I first saw him pitch and play shortstop and where I was sure he was steps ahead of the other players of baseball from around the Valley.

Most of you know the rest of the story. Scouts by the dozen trying to get his name on something. Professional baseball competing with collegiate baseball for his services. He chose college and then followed it with professional ball. The Orioles then the Yankees. Greatness in his trade followed by his very recent decision to retire.

But did you know or remember another decision some years ago to accept an invitation from Little League Baseball and Softball to become a member of its board of directors?

Mussina has served the world’s largest youth sports organization during these past years of being a major league professional baseball pitcher. Last week, after 18 years and 270 pitching wins, Mussina announced his retirement from baseball.

In an official press release from Little League baseball, Steve Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball said, “Mike told me once while visiting my office that he’s probably pitched a thousand games since he started in Little League. And he’s had some memorable games and seasons, and attained some nice personal milestones. But he’ll always remember pitching at the home of the Little League World Series, Lamade Stadium, when Montoursville Little League played a regular season game there.”

Dennis Lewin, chairman of the Board, said, “The Yankees loss is Little League’s gain since Mike will be more available to contribute toward our success than ever. We look forward to Mike’s continued service to Little League, and we wish him well in his retirement.”

Little League added to their winterish news by announcing that Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour will become the first female chairman of the Board at the end of Lewin’s term in office.

That will take place in 2012 with the Board accepting Dr. Gilmour while citing her experience and leadership as president of the PennSylvania College of Technology.

The Board promoted Lance Van Auken to Vice President of Communications at Little League International.

Van Auken has been the Senior Communications Executive for the past several years. He arrived here in 1996 to become Director of Publications and Media Relations.

He played Little League ball in Largo, Florida and his love for the program took him to being a manager, coach, a local league vice president and an umpire. Umpiring brought him here for the first time as an umpire in the before 1992 Little League World Series. All in all he spent 25 volunteer years for Little League before he joined the organization in public relations and communications.

THE DIGEST CONGRATULATES MIKE CLARK – Last week had to be a major week for Mike Clark, head football coach at Lycoming College.

Mike Clark arrived in Williamsport from Ridley Park, Pa. as a Lycoming recruit in 1989. He combined academics and football for four years and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration on his graduation. During that time he played football as an offensive lineman and enjoyed being on four Middle Atlantic Conference championships teams including the 1990 team that finished 12-1-0 and played in the NCAA D-3 national championship game in Bradenton, Florida.

On being named the Lycoming head coach and getting his coaching staff set, Clark told us that he felt Lycoming had the players and talent to be a winning team in 2008 and that they could possible challenge for the Middle Atlantic Conference championship. Finishing the regular season with a 7-3 overall record and a 5-2 conference record, the MAC chose him as the Coach of The Year.

It is now recorded that Clark and his ran into the 23rd nationally ranked Hobart Statesmen Saturday on a snow covered field in Geneva, N.Y. and lost by a 33-15 score. That ended the season for Lycoming but I feel it would be tough to find anyone who would say the Warrior season was less than successful.

HAVE A GREAT THANKSGIVING!

THAT’S 30

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