The formation of Kittanning Lenape Little League was started in 1950. Teams were decided by the area you lived then, rather than selected from all over the Kittanning area. The picture below was provided by Harry Beckwith. Harry was 8 years old at the time, and here are the teams as he recalls. For the boys in the 4th Ward area of Kittanning, they comprised the Sioux team. 3rd Ward were the Iroquois, 2nd Ward the Seneca, West Kittanning the Mohawk, and East Kittanning/Troy Hill area, the Hopi. The games were play in West Kittanning near Claywood Lumber. The Mohawk took 1st place for the first championship and the Sioux took 2nd place.
(Photo was taken on Orr Ave. in the present location of Kittanning High School, which at this time was a ball field.)
In comprising this article it took a strange twist into a sports trivia question of, “Bet You Didn’t Know”. It started with a conversation from Hud Emminger who stated that “his brother Jim hit the 1st Home Run in Little League History”. In my research I located a Leader Times article pertaining to an Opening Day Game. I was excited to find that article, believing it to be the 1st game played ever(1950). In those days first names for sporting events were often omitted. It had all the right clues, Emminger Hitting a Home Run in the First Contest. After further investigation it was discovered that Jim’s brother Hud accomplished the same feat in 1957. So we now have a Kittanning Little League trivia question. Which two brothers hit Home Runs on Opening Day? As we continue this journey, there possibly could be more than one answer.
1957 Opening Day article from the Leader Times.
The season got rolling with an opening day program and the first league contest. During the pre-game ceremonies the various league officials were introduced to the spectators, along with the names of the sponsoring bodies, team personnel, and umpires who contribute their time during the summer months. The flag raising was under the direction of Boy Scout Troop 613 with Arthur Eckstand as Scoutmaster. As the National Anthem was played the flag was hoisted to its position. This was followed by the Little Leaguers repeating the Little league pledge. Mrs. Wendall Davis read a poem, “Baseball Mothers.” Burgess Harry E. Himes Jr. tossed out the first ball and the season was underway.
For the First game, the Sioux defeated the Senaca 8-0 behind the one-hit pitching and a Home Run by (Hud) Emminger. Here are the highlights of the game. The Sioux pushed across three runs in the first inning and then crossed the plate five times in the 3rd inning. Emminger went all the way for the winners and gave up just one hit, a single to Danny Johnston in the 4th inning. (Jim) Ellenberger started for the Seneca and was charged with the loss. He was relieved in the 4th by Dick Starr. Tom Yount was the catcher, with Bauer doing the catching for the Seneca.
Seneca ….000 000 – 0 1 0 Sioux ….305 00x – 8 5 0
Sioux Hitting: Crispen 1 triple, Denny Mervis: 1 double, Hud Emminger 1 Home Run( 1 on), Bowser, 1 double. Sioux Pitching: Hud Emminger with 15 strikeouts and only 1 walked.
Seneca Hitting: Danny Johnston, 1 single Seneca Pitching: Jim Ellenberger, 1 Strikeout with 3 Walks
Umpires were Whitey Crytzer, home plate, Bob Copenhaver and Tommy Weeter, bases. Hud stated that these umpires listed, all worked for the local Telephone Co.
The Sioux went on to be undefeated in 1957.
Jim Ellenberger still remembers the name of the All-Star Players and their positions. Catcher was Dex Hetrick, with Hud and Denny Mervis pitching and also sharing 3rd base. 1B was Don McCollum, 2B Jim Ellenberger, SS Dick Starr, OF consisted of Danny Johnston, Paul Crispen, and Bill Lowery. Coaches were George Starr and Bob Kordes