Little league milestone

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 19:00
Knik celebrates 50th anniversary
Knik Little Leaguers yell “play ball” following the little league pledge at the 50th anniversary ceremony Saturday, June 1.

A light rain and cool temperatures didn’t dampen the spirits of current and past players, parents and coaches who gathered on the infield at Lions Park on Saturday, June 1 to celebrate Knik Little League’s 50th anniversary.

The league has grown from four teams to 43 today. The 480 current players range in age from 4 to 15.

Sustaining the league for half a century is an impressive feat, Knik Little League president Dan Kendall said.

“It’s remarkable the organization has continued all those years,” he said.

The league formed in 1963 under president Del Spellman and vice president Lee Jordan. Games were played in a park where the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center now stands.

The rocky fields were nothing like today’s playing surfaces, said Rep. Bill Stoltze, who played Knik ball four decades ago.

“This is pretty much state of the art compared to what we had,” he said.

Seeing participation increase tenfold from the beginning is amazing, Steve Jordan said. Steve Jordan, Lee Jordan’s son, was a member of the Yankees — one of the original four Knik teams — at age 10.

“It’s kind of hard to believe how much it’s grown,” he said.

Steve Jordan was all smiles as he looked upon the current youngsters participating in America’s favorite pastime.

“It’s really fun to see them out here,” he said.

In addition to helping form Knik Little League — which had an age limit of 12 when it was created — Lee Jordan was instrumental in starting the Babe Ruth League for 13-to-15-year-olds and American Legion for local residents.

“He grandfathered it all,” Steve Jordan said.

Addressing the crowd, Lee Jordan, who serves as the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks booster club president, said he was proud that the local little league has flourished.

“I’m glad to see Knik has grown to the statute it has,” he said.

While fun, baseball instills life lessons, Kendall said.

“It teaches the kids sportsmanship,” he said. “It teaches the kids to work as a group.”

It’s also an activity for the entire family, Kendall said, as parents typically serve as coaches, umpires, fans, etc.

“Little league really is a family sport,” he said.

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