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Pacific Stars and Stripes, July 29, 1953

They Forget Their Hunger - Yanks Bring Baseball To Eager Korea Orphans

by PFC B. E. Fogelberg

KOREAN BASE SECTION, July 29- It's "play ball" in Korea. Little Kim waves his bat at the plate, the crowd roars, and the tall, skinny orphan on the mound forgets his hunger and fires a fast one . . . the game is on.

Kids are the same the world over.

And, in war-torn Korea, the youngsters have found a new game to keep them off the streets; a game to relieve the boredom of living in poverty.

IT'S THE AMERICAN game of baseball. They love it.

"Little league" baseball has been introduced to the village of Haeundae. American servicemen are teaching Korean boys a new sense of sportsmanship, along with an introduction to the American way of life.

It started nearly a year ago when a chaplain from Tucson, Ariz., saw the need for clean wholesome recreation-an activity which would build bodies as well as better U.S.-Korean relations.

Because his son is a Little Leaguer in Tucson, Capt. Paul D. Hutchins picked a natural-baseball.

BEGINNING with a letter to Tucson, Korea's first Little league has developed into a ball league. The uniforms are ragged. And the field is rough and rocky. But you can't top the spirit anywhere.

Hutchins first wrote to Frank Minarilk, Little league commissioner in Tucson, who promised help. He passed the story on to the Arizona Daily Star, a Tucson paper which sponsors the Little league there.

The Star kept the ball rolling by assuming sponsorship of the "Arizona-Little Korean Baseball league," even scheduling a Little league benefit game in Tucson to raise money for the Korean teams.

The Korean organization has a board of officers, a general manager, coaches, and umpires composed of servicemen. A membership charter is en route to Haeundae from Little League Baseball, Inc., Williamsport, Pa.

Except for the location, it could be anywhere in the U. S.

ALTHOUGH 90 boys make up the team rosters, others aren't left out. Before each game and on practice days, more than 150 work out on an ordnance battalion diamond. When a game is on, those who didn't make the grade serve as a robust cheering section.

Most of the kids go to school. Others are orphans who work to support themselves. In the first game a little catcher-a shoe-shine boy by trade-was the star.

Equipment is a problem. However, through the efforts of the Daily Star, a dozen Little league baseballs were flown to Korea. And now, caps, T-shirts, and catching equipment are on the way.

Much of the impetus in the formation of the Little league has been provided by Cpl. Marcellus Riley, Harrisburg, Pa., baseball player under contract to the Cleveland Indians.

RILEY, a member of an ordnance company, who directs most of the operation, says, "It's amazing the way these boys have picked up baseball. The spirit couldn't be higher. Although we're short on equipment, all the units have done a great job in working with the kids."

Poor weather has cut the season short, but league officials plan a fall 18-game schedule. Championship playoffs will be held this fall.

During player-selection before the opener, coaches from five units bargained for top players with Branch Rickey-like shrewdness.




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