The organization of Little League baseball for Lexington and Henderson County occurred during February 1952 in meetings held at the Lexington City Hall. E. T. Baker was elected President of the League, John Dodd Vice-President, R. F. (Fred) Odle Treasurer and Clyde M. Reeves was selected as Secretary. All applications by players to play in the league were to be turned in to the Secretary. The movement to establish a Little League was sponsored locally by the Lexington Lions Club. Little League baseball was already being played in Milan, Jackson, and McKenzie in West Tennessee. The Little League Association World Series was being held each year in Williamsport, PA and teams reaching those playoff spots in tournament play would play for the championship there.
The Little League ball players would range from the ages of 8 to 12 and the games were to be played on a small diamond at Fanning Field, which in 1947 was named in the honor of W. C. Fanning, an executive with United Grocery Company. (Fanning Field was located where the present site of the Lexington High School older building on Broad Street sits; home plate was near where the band room is, and batting was toward the highway as to left field and toward the AG classroom as to right field.) Games would be held twice weekly for the teams and no admission was to be charged to view the games. Regular season play would be in June and July, and tournaments would be held in August. Players whose 13th birthday had not reached August 1st were eligible to play. Players were to be uniformed and have complete equipment. Players, however, would purchase their own shoes with rubber spikes; no metal spikes were allowed.
The League would be operated just as an organized baseball league in that a player could be bought and traded and subject to “ownership” by a single club for their Little League career. It was decided that four teams of players would be formed for the first year of operation. The teams, colors, sponsors, and managers selected for the first-year operation were the Rotary Club Indians trimmed in royal blue and managed by Gill Gideon, Salant & Salant Giants trimmed in navy blue and managed by Lawton Lewis, Davies Drug & Patton Bros. Red Sox trimmed in red and managed by John Hinson, and Lions Club Cardinals trimmed in purple and managed by Wallace Wilson, Denny Helms & Hicks Connally. Hal Milam was selected as official scorer and Everett Segerson as equipment manager. Umpires were Wayne Hinson, Riles Johnson and Speedy McDaniel.
The first tryout camp was held April 21st with a total of 54 boys showing up. Each league team could carry 18 players on the roster, but only 12 could be uniformed. The other six would sit on sidelines waiting for an opening of a player that had to leave the team for any reason. Those who reported for the first practice included:
Dan Wood, Clarence Edward Lee, Tommy Fesmire, Edward Bennett Orio, David Deere, Tony Rose, Utley (Putt) Tolley, Jr., Paul Wayne Maness, Jimmy Azbill, Tommy Myracle, Johnny Fay Belew, Jerry Todd McDaniel, Larry Ballard, James D. Penix, Larry Wayne Lewis, Larry Dale Kelley, Fred Pratt, Jr., Jerry Lynn Wadley, Wayne Blankenship, Donald Roberts, John Bobbitt, Jack Johnson, Paul David Connally, William Norman Davis, Grady Bain, Jr., Joe Wesley (Gordon) Edgin, Gary Morris, William E. Murren, John Hugh Sullivan, Joe Earl Parker, Robert Kent Stewart, Bobby Baker, Randy Holcomb, Michael Dale Todd, Jimmy Kee, Alton Little, Sammy Murphy, J. D. Johnson, Jerry Sullivan, David Jowers, Jerry Sparkman, Leon Roberts, Ralph Butler, Billy Wayne Kelley, Harry Gene Adcox, Delbert McCay, Robert Wade Belew, Denver Ray Goff, Charles (Kenny) Rush, Jimmie Chalk, W. C. Lewis, and George Tillman Stewart.
After completion of the tryout camps in late April, the four managers of the teams bid for players from a pool of 36,000 points. The Little Leaguers were divided into teams for practice sessions the week after the player “auction” during which the managers…
For the complete story, see the June 8th edition of The Lexington Progress.