Yankees were in Shepherdstown, Pirates in Leetown
Little League baseball came to the more rural areas of Jefferson County in 1953, still Shepherdstown and Harpers Ferry had entries in the six-team Potomac Little League.
Not only were there five teams from Jefferson County, but the Sharpsburg Bluebirds gave the league a total of six entries.
The Bakerton Senators held their games at a field hard by the village’s elementary school. Harpers Ferry made a home on the high school’s diamond as did the Shepherdstown Yankees, who played across Rte. 480 from the Edgewood Cemetery and beside the high school..
Leetown’s Pirates had their field on what was known as the Fish Hatchery diamond; there was a marl infield that usually defied the strongest of rains and was ready for play quicker than any other place that had taken a substantial storm.
Millville had the Giants and the Bluebirds settled in behind the elementary school on an all-dirt infield and with a classy backstop that is still in place some 64 years later.
Each of the six teams wore a set of cotton uniforms that had lettering across the chests of the 10-to-12 year-olds.
Only the Senators had an above-ground dugout because those cement-block structures had been built by the adult Bakerton teams that actually shared the same playing surface.
There was little or no talk about all-star teams to represent the league after the regular season. Just getting an organized league for the youth of the area was reason enough to celebrate. There were no much-planned fundraisers or announcements coming over public address systems. Finding umpires was hard enough; if you were watching from the sidelines, you could be asked to umpire the bases.
The players would pile into vehicles and travel from place to place to play a game. Fans would stand in foul territory or simply plop down on the ground to watch a game.
By the late 1950’s, certain small advancements had been made, but the Potomac Little League was still a summer activity that brought competition to the area. Rules that came from Williamsport, Pa. were implemented and the league’s administrators did what was necessary to provide competition that was equal to all.
Numbers might be tacked on to scoreboards by human hands, keeping a count of the runs and innings, but there was no electronic wizardry. And it seemed the youngsters in their rubber spikes, brightly colored hats and loose-fitting uniforms prospered.
When the all-stars were selected, Sharpsburg couldn’t have players chosen. The powers-that-were in Williamsport didn’t allow the one out-of-state team to have all-stars on the Potomac League team.
The Potomac League never moved very far along the tournament trail, usually being eliminated by the Jefferson County League based in Charles Town/Ranson.
The adults of the time had organized youth baseball, and provided an atmosphere where competition could allow the players to grow in experience and improve their skills against players who resided elsewhere – in places besides the alleys behind their homes or a weed-infested lot three blocks away.
Using equipment including catcher’s gear, batting helmets, Louisville Slugger bats and regulation bases and a rubberized home plate, the players were in safe playing conditions and could learn sportsmanship and the rules of baseball.
As the years rolled by unstopped, the Potomac Little League was absorbed by the county-wide leagues and the Sharpsburg Bluebirds were incorporated into a playing district in Maryland.
But the first years of the Potomac Little League were the ones that helped Jefferson County make its march into and mark in organized youth baseball.