Hey baseball fans!
I have a very exciting interview for you today with Stephen Keener, the CEO and President of Little League International! However, before I get into the Q&A, here is a quick bio on Keener.
A graduate of Westminster College, Stephen Keener joined the executive staff of Little League Baseball in 1980 and became the league's president in 1994. During his term as president, he has done some great things for Little League. He expanded Little League Baseball to 20 more countries and more than 3 million kids are involved with this youth organization today. Keener has also contributed to making the game less harmful to the kids, creating numerous rules that, for example, limit the amount of pitches a pitcher can throw per game or state how long a pitcher is required to rest based on his/her age. Mr. Keener has also made sure that everyone can watch Little League games, signing TV contracts with ABC Sports and ESPN, so that all the young baseball stars get the exposure they definitely deserve.
Now that you know a bit about what Stephen Keener has accomplished as the President of Little League Baseball, Inc., here is the interview.
Matt: What team did you play for when you played in Little League? What position?
Mr. Keener: Milo's Sub Shop in the Loyalsock Little League near Williamsport as a pitcher and second baseman.
Matt: What is your favorite Little League moment (as a player and as the President)?
Mr. Keener: In Little League, hitting my one and only home run. As the President, when I get the opportunity to visit local Little League programs and see so many kids having fun playing this great game.
Matt: What sports did you watch while growing up?
Mr. Keener: Baseball, basketball, and football.
Matt: What is your job as the President and CEO of Little League?
Mr. Keener: My job as Little League's President and CEO is simple - make sure that all kids have the opportunity to have an enjoyable and beneficial baseball or softball experience. Our staff at Little League works very closely with our dedicated volunteers to make sure that happens. And whether it's at one of our nine World Series events during the summer or at a local Tee Ball game in the spring, we want to ensure that children are not only learning the fundamentals of the game, but also learning life lessons of team work, dedication, and sportsmanship, that will help them grow into future leaders.
Matt: Do you think you would have had success back when you were in Little League, if you had faced Little League star Mo'ne Davis at the plate?
Mr. Keener: Thankfully, I didn't have to face pitchers with a 70-mile-per-hour fastball when I played Little League. Mo'ne is not only a great example of how hard work can pay off on the field, but also how important it is to be a well-rounded athlete and excel in the classroom. She is one of the many Little Leaguers to have had the opportunity to compete at the Little League Baseball World Series and create many lasting memories.
Matt: How important is it for you to have celebrated recently the 75th anniversary of Little League?
Mr. Keener: Our 75th Anniversary year at Little League will go into history as one of our most successful years ever. At major milestones in the history of an organization, it is important to look back at what has been accomplished and achieved over the years, but, more importantly, to look forward at how we can continue to grow and improve. We had many highlights celebrating our Diamond Anniversary, from first pitches at Major League Baseball's World Series and All-Star Game to lighting the Empire State Building to wonderful news stories and a documentary telling many great stories of the history and future of Little League. But what we're most proud of is the work we accomplished to ensure that our celebrations can continue and that Little League can continue to provide the best youth sports experience for all boys and girls around the world.
Matt: What do you want to see happen for Little League in the near future?
Mr. Keener: We want to make sure that Little League stays true to the mission that has guided the organization for 75 years, to provide a fun, healthy experience for all children. We have some exciting new programs that have launched recently, like the Little League Intermediate (50/70) Baseball division to provide 11- to 13-year-olds the opportunity to transition from the Little League field to the conventional field and the revamped Tee Ball Program that focuses on fun, fitness, and fundamentals. But, we're also growing and expanding our opportunities in Little League Softball and the Little League Challenger Division. We have launched a Senior League Challenger Division, which will allow all individuals with physical or intellectual challenges, regardless of age, the opportunity to play baseball. We continue to grow our Little League Urban Initiative to provide support to communities in need. As the world of youth sports evolves, all of these programs are so important in providing resources for parents and volunteers, so they can continue to give children in their community the opportunity to have wonderful, meaningful Little League experiences.
Thanks so much to Mr. Stephen Keener for taking the time for answering my questions. I hope you enjoyed this interview and thanks for reading it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."