Felton Little League honors its founders

 

One of the founders of the Felton Little League Bill Hart tosses a baseball at the park on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

FELTON — With every new season comes fresh hope for the many innings ahead.

“Opening day is always exciting because it’s like starting over again,” said Buddy Reed.

He will be honored today with fellow Felton Little League founder Bill Hart as the organization begins its 50th year.

“The kids are what it is for and they get excited every new year,” Mr. Reed added.

After a parade that commences at 8:30 a.m., Mr. Reed and Mr. Hart were schedule to ride together on a Gator and throw ceremonial first pitches at the Felton Little League complex next to U.S. 13 and Lake Forest North Elementary School. Games start at noon.

Little League programs throughout Delaware are scheduled to open. After preparing in often frigid April temperatures, the season can’t come soon enough.

It’s been a rough spring — while some leagues were fortunate to experience a roughly 80 degree opening day last Saturday, temperatures were nearly half that as the wind and rain followed this week.

“Everyone is excited for the first game especially since the weather we’ve had hasn’t been conducive for practice,” Felton LL President Julie Brooks said. “Everyone is ready to get out and play games and wait for the weather to turn to more comfortable.”

The honored duo started a youth baseball program in Felton when their sons reached a competitive age in the late 1960s, and the result endures today.

“Our kids used to go and play together but there wasn’t anything like a Little League to join,” Mr. Hart recalled earlier this week.

Prior to receiving an official Little League charter for four teams in 1968, the dads pulled together enough boys to play community teams from Frederica and Harrington for a couple years.

According to the 83-year-old Mr. Reed, the founders spent their own money for T-shirts and baseballs to get the team started.

Co-founder Buddy Reed stands in front of the Felton Little League sign near the ball park’s concession stand on Friday afternoon. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

“We were told that we’d never have enough kids who wanted to play, but right away there was a lot of interest,” said Mr. Reed.

His two sons and three grandsons eventually all played in the league.

“A lot of it was from people in the community who didn’t have kids playing but liked the idea of having a program here,” he added.

The men traveled to Dover to meet with Pat Knight, who was already part of a Little League organization and laid out how they could begin their own program.

“I think Pat did most of the talking and he showed us the way to do it,” said the 89-year-old Mr. Hart.

With the Lake Forest School District consenting to provide field space and the State of Delaware loaning a snow fence for an outfield boundary, Felton Little League was underway. While Mr. Hart couldn’t exactly recall the signup fee for players, “it’s nothing close to what it is now.

“If there was ever struggle for a family to pay the fee we made sure they were able to play.”

Felton LL has a refurbished look this spring with major capital improvements that involved, among other improvements, just completed new fences and foul poles. Construction on a new storage building has commenced as well.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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