Little League celebrates golden anniversary

POULSBO — When North Kitsap Little League began 50 years ago, the field that would eventually become Snider Park was nothing but stumps.

POULSBO — When North Kitsap Little League began 50 years ago, the field that would eventually become Snider Park was nothing but stumps.

On Sunday, some of the founders of the organization gathered to celebrate what the field and the organization have become. Former players, coaches and administrators for Little League gathered at Snider Park to celebrate a half-century of Little League — and look forward to a half-century more.

The Little League complex now boasts four green fields and more than 65 teams. It often hosts regional tournaments.

But one of the organization’s founders, Bud Holm, recalled the days when players had to remove rocks from the field.

“It’s not the men who started it, but the men and women who carry it on; they’re the ones you should take your hats off for,” Holm said.

Holm was just one of the luminaries introduced by master of ceremonies (and former Little League coach and umpire) Vic Schiavone.

Lindley Smith, a former Little League president and Babe Ruth president for 18 years, recalled the days before a well was sunk; on weekends, firefighers would drive a fire engine from Port Gamble and spray the fields with its hose.

“I can’t believe what’s happened in the last 50 years,” said Smith, for whom the Babe Ruth field is named. “Particularly the last 10 or 15 years.”

Ed Moon, who coached for more than 30 years and helped teach a young Little League All-Star named Aaron Sele his curveball, gestured with his cane — aiming it down the right field line like the barrel of a bat — as he spoke. Moon said he sacrificed time for Little League. But it was all worth it.

“You give up a lot, but so what?” he said. “When you see what’s been done, you feel good right here.”

He lifted the cane and tapped its head against his chest.

Those honored at the ceremony included Smith, Moon, Holm, Art Mikelsen (the district administrator), John Belgarde, who maintained the fields, and Ruth Edgley, who spent years working at the concessions stand and who was married to George Edgley, a longtime coach and umpire who had a field named in his honor.

Several current players were on hand — including four who marched out to the center of the field for the flag ceremonies — and several former ones as well.

Jeff Hahto, who played catcher on the very first Little League All-Star team in 1953, was on hand with some former teammates to participate in the ceremony.

When asked what the difference was between then and now, he gestured toward the field with a smile.

“You didn’t have all the grass, that’s for sure,” he said, looking at the green field.

The celebration was followed by a skills competition and home run contest for current players.