Junior Midget 50th anniversary

Members of the Manheim Lions of 1961 line up after their introductions. From left, Jerry Peters, Jim Mather, Tom Cantrell, Gerry Kulp, Rich Michael and Dwight French.

Tonight we turn back the clock 50 years to 1961. The Lancaster Red Roses are playing at Stumpf Field. Teammates Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle are locked in a home run battle. And the first New Era Tournament Junior Midget championship game is played at Farnum Field in Lancaster.

The junior midget division was created 16 years after the first New Era Tournament because of a surge in the number of youths playing baseball.

In that first junior midget tournament, Hertz and the Manheim Lions matched up in what Sportswriter Bill Carroll called “a tight, tense struggle that almost made you forget these were mere 14 year olds.”

Hertz led 1-0 before the Lions scored one in the top of the sixth and five in the seventh to claim the crown.

A year ago, the Manheim Lions were back on top when they claimed the 50th Junior Midget championship in this tournament. In between, the organization claimed four other titles – in 1985 and a three-peat in 1994, 1995 and 1996.

We’re privileged to have as our guests tonight, to commemorate the 50th anniversary, members of those 6 Manheim Lions championship teams.

From 1961, welcome Jerry Peters, Jim Mather, Tom Cantrell, Gerry Kulp and Rich Michael and Dwight French.

Team members unable to make it tonight are Bruce Nock, Larry Graybill, Randy Carper, Terry Sides, Barry Lewis.

And we want to remember deceased members of that first championship team – Bill Travitz, Flip Hilton, Alvin Gibble, Larry Sangrey, coach Joe Kilgore, coach Royal Trantz, and Dave Kilgore, who was killed in an accident during the season.

Congratulations and many thanks to all the players and coaches for joining us.

J.J. Sanchez, of the 2010 Manheim Lions, shakes hands with the Lions of 1961.

Manheim Lions of 1961: from left, Rich Michael, Gerry Kulp, Tom Cantrell, Dwight French, Jerry Peters and Jim Mather.

Manheim Lions of the 1990s: From left, front, coaches Dave Bruckhart, George Kernisky and Jeff Mummau; back, Matt Huber, coach Ben Kauffman, Ryan Holmes, Dan Bowerman, Jeremy Hershey, Andy Martin and B.J Kauffman.

Manheim Lions of 2010.

Manheim Lions gather before the pre-game ceremony.

Manheim Lions of 1961.