Wednesday, March 4, 2009

RIP: Jerry Sacharski

From the Los Angeles Times:

Jerry Sacharski, a recreation league director who pioneered T-ball as an organized youth sport in the 1950s because he couldn't bear to turn away young children who clamored to play baseball, has died. He was 93.
Sacharski, who was a retired high school teacher, died Friday of natural causes at his home in Albion, Mich., said a spokeswoman for the J. Kevin Tidd Funeral Home.
"We had all these little guys coming out for summer baseball five years ago," Sacharski told United Press International in 1960, "and just couldn't send them home."
To help younger children learn the fundamentals of baseball, he removed one of the sport's more difficult aspects -- pitching and hitting the ball -- and devised rules that allowed a batter to hit the ball off an adjustable tee on home plate.
After fashioning his first batting tee out of metal piping, pieces of rubber and part of a garden hose, Sacharski invited youngsters between ages 6 and 8 to come out for a suddenly pitchless pastime.
On June 25, 1956, what Sacharski initially called "pee-wee baseball" debuted in a league game at a park in Albion, about 100 miles west of Detroit.
More than 2 million children play T-ball across the country today, according to the T-Ball USA Assn.

I hadn't heard of Mr. Sacharski until I read this obituary, but spring training is here and I thought that a shout out to the man who made hitting a baseball a little less daunting for the little ones was appropriate. 
It sounds like he was a helluva guy. 

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