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History of LYA - 1960s-1970s

  • Prior to and including 1962,a handful of neighborhood boys from Uwchlan Township played baseball in Downingtown and Chester Springs…on Hallman Field.. 
  • In 1963, Sam and Maude Windham and Paul and Ethel Otter organized “Lionville Leagues Association”.  There were two teams of boys ages 8-13 and one girls team called the “Dandy-Lions”.  The Otter family donated two fields in a cow pasture on the West Side of Rt. 113 - where Calvary Fellowship Church  now stands.  The teams traveled to Eagle, Chester Springs, Glenmoore, Exton, and Honeybrook.  The fields flooded often so the teams moved across the street to the front of Lionville Elementary School  - where  girls softball Ages 6 to 8 now play.
    In 1964,another field on the East Side of Rt. 113 and Devon Drive next to the home of Harry and Beth Dewees, was donated by the Otters and became known as Otter Field A.  The field was regulation size with a grass infield, a small metal backstop, and a snow fence around the outfield.  This field was used until 1978 when it was dismantled after the purchase of the Hoffecker property for the new Lionville Park. Although the field is gone,  the Downingtown Area School District bought the property as part of the new East campus.  The old Dewees house on this property (circa 1927) was  rented and renovated ($40,000) by LYA and Uwchlan Township for use as a meeting place and storage facility.
    By 1966-67 - there were 120 boys. O.J. Ashinhurst was elected President and in 1967, two major teams and six minor teams were organized to play in the “Twin Valley Pony League”. In 1968 – there were 134 boys and a budget of $3200.
    In 1969–Otter Field A  was upgraded with 80’ telephone poles and new fencing, a new backstop and better infield. The Association formed its own league.
    There were 195 boys on (6) major teams and (6) minor teams and  (1) Babe Ruth team playing in Downingtown.
  •   Joining Ashinhurst’s committee were Dick Irrgang, Dick Ehmer, Tony Marra, Dick Stretch, and Dick Montgomery. The operating budget was $2,799.00
  •   The 70’s – The Development Explosion
    In 1970 – a  milestone year
    The Downingtown School District granted Lionville Leagues permission to develop scraped DASD property on Devon Drive - next to Otter Field A. The land was leased for 99 years from the DASD.  Maude Windham executed this lease.  The two parcels of pie-shaped land became available when Devon Drive was cut through to Rt. 113 to gain entrance to the new Lionville Junior High School. Phil Clark provided the bulldozer to clear the land.
    Lionville received an officialCharter #283-2324 from Little League International  in Williamsport, after lengthy negotiations with the Exton area.   Lionville Leagues became Lionville Little League, Inc.
  •   Territories assigned to this charter were: Uwchlan, Upper Uwchlan, West Pikeland, Wallace, North East Caln, & Part of East Brandywine. There were 223 boys on 18 teams.
  •   Charlie Prusack was President.
  •   Field B and Field Cwere under construction with wooden 2x4’s, chicken wire backstops and outfield snow fences.
  •   Tony Marra became LL District 23 Administrator.
  •   In 1971
    The organization concentrated on raising money for more fields.  They sold candy, wrapping paper, coupon booklets and sent kids through the neighborhood collecting money on Tag Day.  They held  dances and operated a small card table concession stand.  They had grand visions of expanding into other recreational areas such as  – indoor soccer, track and field, tennis, football, and volleyball and even envisioned a swimming pool. However, 200 kids had grown to 495 kids and the fear of turning kids away as the community grew keep the committee concentrating on the business at hand.  “Find more fields” was the battle cry.
    Field B and Field Cwere completed with sodded infields.
  •   A new field, FIELD D, was added at the new Lionville Junior High School and was assigned to boys minors. FIELD E in front of the school was assigned to rookie boys. The year ended with a surplus of $64.88.
  •   In October, Dick Montgomery was elected President.  Jack Carbutt reported: with all bills paid the balance was:       $55.32 
  •   Discussions  began on a  need for a senior league for baseball.  Paoli and Malvern  asked Lionville to join their programs.
     The Ladies Auxiliary held the first of many Dinner-Dances to raise money for new fields.  LYA held its first family picnic.
 
 
  •   In 1972 – A milestone year
    Lionville International ALL STARS won the District 23 and Section 4 Championships, ended up 4th in the State and was listed as one of the top 100 teams in North America.  – Manager Tony Marra and  Coach George Watts.During the tournament season, Tom Watts pitched a 1, a 2 and 3 no-hitter ball games and averaged 13 strikeouts per game.
  •   Jack Waiboerintroduced a 2nd sport-  girl's softball to the organization - and was assigned to new Field B and Field F behind Lionville Elementary.
  •   Field C came on line for boys minor leagues.  LYA now had 6 fields – Fields A-B-C-D-E-F
  •   530 youngsters were involved.  Expenses were: $8,430.  The organization was now calling itself Lionville Youth Athletic Association.
  •   In 1973
    John Mathis and Earl Fetzerintroduced a 3rd sport in February  – WINTER BASKETBALL.
  •   There were 475 boys in baseball and 232 girls in softball on 42 teams and a budget of $8300.  In February, the organization was in the hole $1200.
  •   Little League International in Williamsport used the Lionville softball program as a model.
  •   A small concession stand (upgraded from a card table) was built by Roger Bull next to Field B ($450 for lumber and electricity).  Water was carried in fresh every day in gallon milk jugs. Profit for the year selling coke and candy was $400.
  •   Paul Seymour was elected President and launched a major fund-raising campaign to raise money for new fields, improved equipment and to develop new programs.
  •   Committees were formed to develop an umbrella organization to develop more sports activities.
  •   In 1974 – a milestone year
    Lionville Youth Association, Incorporatedfiled papers with the State of Pennsylvania and became an umbrella organization to expand into other sports.  Lionville Little League. Inc. was now under the umbrella of LYA.
  •   The first Board of Directorshad 17 members. President Paul Seymour, Chairman of the Board Jack Waiboer, VP’s Bud Wenk & Don Wix, O.J. Ashinhurst, Joel Gramling, John Kinyon, John Mathis, Elmer Duckinfield, Roger Bull, Shelby Clifton, Illa Waiboer, John Faust, Tony Marra, Bob McKee, John Long and Alex Urban. Vince Forgione was appointed Treasurer and Phyllis Duckinfield was appointed Secretary.
  •   Alex Urban and Joel Gramlingdrafted the new constitution and by-laws.  Urban and TV Guide designed the new  LYA logo with a child’s face in the “L”.  The colors would be Columbia Blue and White.
  •   Jack Waiboerintroduced a 4th sport  in September –FALL SOCCER with 89 boys in Grades 4-5-6 playing at Lionville Junior High School.   Illa Waiboer was President of the Ladies Auxiliary. The Waiboers are Sue Ashinhurst's parents.
  •   There were 20 teams in Basketball – serving 275 players.   Softball – 200, Baseball – 320.  Registration fees were $5 per player.  There was no reserve treasury, but there were70 commercial  sponsors.
  •   The LYA Board appointed a PARK COMMITTEE to develop plans and financial support for building a permanent recreation facility in Uwchlan Township.  Members were: Paul Seymour, Dorothy Foster, Alex Urban,  Frank Cacchione, Chic Daly, Bud Wenk, Joe Oakes and Don Spawn.  The proposal urged township officials to buy 25 acres of land for a park complex  at “today’s prices” ($2500 an acre) stating that  “land will never be less expensive”.
  1.   In 1975
    The field committee announced UwchlanTownshipwould acquire permanent Park land for athletic fields.  LYA pledged to raise money for its development and did in fact raise $30,000.
  2.   Soccer(co-ed) added leagues for Grades 7-8-9 and 10-11-12
  3.   Clair Koserintroduced LYA 5th sport – LYA WRESTLING – as a second winter sport with 39 young men.  His son Glenn Koser went on to become a State Champion, DHS varsity wrestling coach and is presently Varsity wrestling coach in West Chester.  
  4.   PEEWEE  Co-ed Soccer for Grades 3-4was added on two small fields in the outfields of Fields B & C.  Soccer had 240 players. Basketball  - 350 players.
  5.   Al Foster replaced Elmer Duckenfieldas field manager and a field expansion committee was formed. Andy DeMark was hired to cut the grass and repair fields.
  6.   Don Wix and Harry DiDonato chaired an all-day FUN FAIR  on the Field B outfield to raise money for new fields.  There were 15 booths of games and food.
 
  •   In 1976
    A new baseball Field was constructed in West Pikeland at Hallman Field by Chairman of the Board Jack Waiboer. The field had been used in the past by a Chester Springs team, but was abandoned and overgrown.  The field was totally renovated by hand with a  rototiller and a lot of hand raking.  The broken-down old wooden dugout shelters were removed at the request of the insurance company.
  •   Two Fields were built at Uwchlan Hills Elementary (H & I) Dorothy Foster supervised the renovation of a baseball and soccer field at PickeringValleyElementary.
  •   LYA built a loft in the Uwchlan Township old barn to store equipment.
  •   UwchlanTownshipreceived $15,000 from HUD to purchase 4 acres of parkland next to Field B…the Hoffecker apple orchard -  which would be used for a parking lot.
  •   LYA bought its first official flag.
  •   President Paul Seymour, serving his 3rd term, reported an operating income of $29,549.07 with $8300 put in reserve for field development.
  1.   IN 1977
    UwchlanTownship purchased 21 acres of land ($143,000 in revenue sharing money) from Louise and Joe Hoffecker for a Township Park.  LYA committed funds to build 3 baseball fields and one soccer field in the park.
  2.   Sponsorsdoubled to $8,000 – the field reserve was $14,000.  A new baseball field was developed in AckerPark. LYA now had 11 ball fields.
  3.   LYA Wrestling hosted its first Wrestling Tournament.  Bell Telephonedonated a 30x30 storage building viaBud Wenk
  4.   LYA  Booster Club  held its 7th  “Beef N Beer” Dinner Dance at Sts. Philip and James. Tickets were $7.
  •   In 1978
    With the prospect of having an additional big league field in Lionville Park, LYA left Downingtown Babe Ruth and formed “a league of its own” with 9 teams in ages 13-15 under the Senior Little League Banner.   It used the varsity baseball field at Lionville Junior High School.
     
    Don Wixwas elected President.
  •   LYA Treasurer and Tax Attorney Otto Preikszas obtained a 501(c)3 tax-exempt status for LYA and enrolled LYA in the United WayDonor Option Plan.   
  •   Field Awas retired… baseball majors moved to  Field C.  Baseball and softball shared a common budget
  •   Bernie Hankingraded the  new park into three tiers and rough grade.
  •   Dorothy Fostertook over field maintenance and  was appointed the  new  park foreman of development.
  •   Gene DeSantis and crew -  with an 8-foot york  rake and hundreds of hand rakers, spent two weeks getting  Lionville Park to final grade and ready for seeding.Sam Matthews seeded the park in October with machinery from his Milky Way Farm.
  •   The DASD waived a $25,000 easement into the park between Fields B and Cas they were invited to use the new senior field for JV home games – JV previously had to play all away games.
  •   LYA Wrestling purchased its own wrestling mat in Columbia blue and white with the LYA logo in the center.
  •   IN 1979
    LYA Little League Majors, playing on Field C, won the District 28, and Section 4 Championships and a berth in the State Finals with Manager Tony Marra.   Field Cleft field was extended and got new fencing.
  •   $5,000 was donated by G. O. Carlson from Downingtown to build a new Little League Field A.  $1,000 grant fromLukens Steel, $6,000 revenue sharing from Uwchlan Township and $2,000 special grant fromUnited Way was given to the  field fund.
  •   Dave McNamara - Troop 23,completed thefirst Eagle Scout Project in the Park- cleaning up 12 apple trees covered with poison ivy and vines  that divided the new parking area from the main Park, followed  byEagle Scout Anthony Fiore - Troop 216  who corrected an erosion problem on the new soccer field bank.
  •   LYA  Softballbegan is 8th season – added a senior league for girls 15-18.
  •   Bill Null,a volunteer from the wrestling program, installed the NEW  Senior Field baseball fencing by himself - at cost.
  •   Norm McQuillinchaired an all-day sports Olympics to raise money for the Park.  Fee:  $1.00 per participant.
  •   The new 25 acre park got an official name:  LionvillePark.
  •   Super Sunday was held on Field B.  New tractor purchases were featured on the infield. 
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