CORNING, AR (KAIT) - The Corning Little League baseball program Saturday was presented a golden plaque, rewarding the city for 50 years of service. Since 1959, youngsters have learned the fundamentals of baseball and life skills in the Clay County town. This year, 208 children are on 18 different teams within Corning Little League.
"In the Southwest Region, the oldest programs came into existence in 1951. Within 9 years, Corning was involved in the program," said Mike Witherwax, Regional Director of the Southwest Region of Little League.
Witherwax said he was proud of Corning for supporting Little League for 50 years. Little League baseball provides 2.5 million young people a sport to play each summer. Of the millions playing baseball, only 70 will make it to the Major Leagues; however, 99.97% will become productive members of society, according to Witherwax.
The league in Corning provides children ages 5-16 the experiences of being on a team. Paul Moore, President of Corning Little League, said he never had the chance to play in the league, but was able to teach his son, who is now coaching, back in the 1970's.
"I like it all. I love baseball. I love working with the kids and there's nothing better than coming out here seeing these kids involved. You come out here some nights and we'll have people playing on five fields out here. These parking lots are full and it's really a happening place in the summer time," said Paul.
According to Paul, becoming the latest member of Little League's Golden Anniversary is a tribute to the men and women in the program before him.
"Everybody just expects to do it. It's one of the greatest things to happen here. All of the coaches volunteer. They spend from 2-4 nights a week for 2 months out here. They live and breathe baseball," said Paul.
Paul said Corning Little League is run by 50 volunteer coaches, mostly parents, and a few paid umpires. The only league with paid umpires is the senior 15-16 year old league. Younger leagues use coaches as umpires.
"Through the years, there have been thousands and thousands of players and hundreds and hundreds of coaches," said Paul.
Danny Moore is Paul's son. He coaches his youngest child who plays for Harold Implement Company.
"I got involved because my son started playing. He started tee ball and I was just a parent that sat in the stands in tee ball, but when he started minor league, I wanted to get involved," said Danny.
Danny has been coaching his son for 7 years. He said he didn't know much about baseball until it was time to coach his kid.
"Coaching Little League is a really good experience for the parents, but it's good for the kids because it teaches them to be part of a team and how to get along with other people," said Danny.
Baseball has long been considered America's Favorite Pastime. Through Little League, players learn everything from team work, citizenship, individual success and perseverance.
"All kinds of traits that are beneficial. Things like working hard to achieve and improve yourself," said Witherwax. "When a child goes into that batter's box, they're all by themselves and they have to go back to that practice time in the batting cages. When they achieve success, they can look at it and say, okay, I worked this hard and I improved."
"Baseball is truly an American sport. It's a mirror of society," said Witherwax.
Parents sometimes lose focus during baseball games. Nearly every coach has had a disagreement of some sort with an umpire; however, coaches are told to keep their cool and lead their players by example.
"I've told my kids, the important thing is to remember to have anger management and they may not know what that means. You've got to keep your cool at all times. We, as adults, don't always do that. We don't always follow that advice, but that's still what we strive to achieve," said Danny.
Danny and Paul said Little League baseball is about teaching children the right way to live life.
"Kids, that's my main thing. I really enjoy being around these kids. They've taught me a lot and it's just enjoyable seeing them start. They may not know much about it, and then when they get done, they're really into it and they've learned a lot and achieved something. Whenever they're proud of themselves, that makes me proud," said Danny.
"They learn things that'll take them all the way through life. They learn to be disciplined. They learn team work. I don't care how good you are on a baseball team. You're not going to carry the team," said Paul.