New scoreboard meant to upgrade experience at Little League World Series

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Measuring 57 feet wide and 18 feet tall, the newly designed video scoreboard sits behind Howard J. Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport.

WILLIAMSPORT – There was an internal battle Little League President and CEO Steve Keener fought as he thought about putting new scoreboards at Lamade and Volunteer Stadiums this year.

He wanted to put in something which could upgrade the fan experience at the game and provide a state-of-the-art look while not forgetting it’s still just Little League Baseball. He and the Easton Foundation felt like they reached a happy medium when they selected three Nevco video boards to replace the scoreboards at the Little League World Series complex.

Not only was each scoreboard at the two stadiums replaced, but a third video board was added in the concourse area of the complex on the back side of Lamade Stadium.

“We don’t want to ever forget it’s still Little League. It’s a fine line we have to walk,” Keener said last week from Indianapolis. Last year we had over 400,000 people attend the World Series and that’s in part because it’s on TV and the attention it gets. So when they come here they’re expecting it to be as good an experience as we can make it. I think this will enhance it.”

For the past couple years, Little League has had to find ways to fix the scoreboards it installed in 2009. Unfortunately, parts for those scoreboards are not being made anymore. But the Little League maintenance staff was able to produce replacement pieces in order to get the scoreboards to function during the World Series.

Earlier this year, when the organization began looking at the cost to repair the two scoreboards on the complex, the price wasn’t much different than the cost of ordering entirely new scoreboards. So Keener and Little League approached the Easton Foundations, who purchased the scoreboards for the complex in 2009, and asked if they would again be willing to contribute to new video boards.

“When Jim Easton and his wife Phyllis heard they needed to redo the boards, it’s something we wanted to do because we wanted to stay associated with Little League Baseball,” said Care Sawyer, Executive Director of the Easton Foundations. “We had helped with them back in 2009 with putting up the scoreboards and some construction projects they were working on. It’s a great program and it made sense to stay involved.”

The Easton Foundations was founded by James L. Easton, who worked with his father and uncle developing aluminum and carbon composite sports equipment, including baseball and softball bats. Although the majority of the foundation’s work comes in promoting archery, the Easton Foundations continues to work with other team sports as well, including partnering with Little League Baseball.

The new boards purchased by the Easton Foundations are all-LED video boards. The new Lamade Stadium scoreboard measure 57 feet wide and 18 feet high. The Volunteer Stadium video board measures 29 feet wide and 18 feet tall. And the video board hanging in the concourse area measures 22 feet wide and 11 1/2 feet tall.

According to a press release by Little League, the new video boards are “capable of full-screen display and will include in-game enhancements such as video features, animated logos, interactive games and more.”

“Jim said to me that Little League was such a big part of his company’s success that he wanted to set up a way to repay Little League,” Keener said. “When we asked them about the new video boards and said it wouldn’t cost much more, he said they’d absolutely like to be a part of it. We would have had to try to rig the other ones together for another year had the foundation not come forward like it did.”

The new video boards allows Little League to be more creative in some of their productions and in their announcements for the fans. Prior to this year, Little League would always just make announcements over the public address system about the complex being a smoke-free environment or pointing out where important parts of the complex were located.

Now, with the video boards, Little League was able to create video productions to make all those announcements. They can also more easily alert fans about weather situations, and they were able to use kids from the World Series to make those videos.

“We think this is going to enhance the experience,” Keener said. “We can do some really fun things with them and kids are going to love it.”

“Our goal was to trust Steve and we pretty much just agreed to go with what he wanted to do,” Sawyer said. “Steve is such a great person to work with. We really value our relationship with him and with Little League Baseball. Although our foundation is primarily focused on archery, this is a nice relationship to have. And it’s a nice friendship, too.”

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