Southern Utah News Articles
Valley Little League Baseball celebrates 60 years
Sixty years ago the first Little League baseball team in the Valley was organized in the month of May, celebrating the anniversary of the event.
A young ten-year-old boy, Kyran Sorensen, had moved with his family to Orderville in the summer of 1958. They moved to the area, as his father was employed at the Glen Canyon Dam. There was not a team at that time. The young Sorensen had a passion for the game and wanted to play on a team to compete with other teams.
Older brother Stan Sorensen, who would start his junior year at Valley High School in the fall of 1958, decided he would like to assist his younger brother in his dream to organize a team.
Stan, an avid sports enthusiast, approached the Kanab Recreation Association with the idea of Orderville joining the league in 1959.
The Orderville team (Tigers) joined with one Fredonia team and three additional teams from Kanab. The Kanab teams, the Lions, the Legion and the Jaycees, would complete the league. Stan enlisted the help of two other classmates who helped to assist him in coaching the young team. Terry Tait and Bill Heaton were willing and proved to be good coaches. Although they had never coached a team before, they were readily accepted by the young team.
An article found in a 1959 SUN newspaper would attest that the 1959 season turned out to be a very spirited competition.
The games played at Kanab were in the middle of an old racetrack on a completely dirt field. No outfield fences to stop the ball. It sloped downhill and if a batter could get a ball to bounce in the outfield, the outfielder had some difficulty in deciding where the ball was going to go. So a home run was often a sure thing.
The only field at Valley was the Valley High School field, where they hosted the other teams. Of course there was a bit of rivalry between the Kanab and Valley teams.
The season was divided into two halves, with the winner of each half to play for the league championship at the close of the season.
The Valley Tigers did quite well the first half. They played a playoff game against the Lions to determine the #1 winner for the first part of the competition. Then they would lose to the Jaycees, who destroyed the Tigers in the playoffs for the league championship.
After the boys had played the championship game, both teams were invited to a barbeque at the home of Clyde and Rena Tait, parents of Terry Tait, who hosted a great feed for the boys.
In 1960, Kanab, Fredonia and Valley formed the Tri-City League, and joined the National Little League Organization.
The organization sponsors the Little League World Series at the end of each summer at Williamsport, Penn. Utah sends a team to San Bernadino, Calif. for the Western States Tournament. The winners there would go on to Williamsport.
The 1960 Valley team was coached by the Valley High School coach, Quinn Newby. Terry Tait and Wallace Slaugh assisted with the coaching that year. Clyde Tait and Reo Heaton represented Valley on the Tri-City League Board of Directors.
Many of those who were a part of the start of this moment of history are gone now, but the spirit of baseball lives on today, as youngsters begin as early as the T-ballers and continue into high school.
Memories remain and hopefully baseball will always be a part of the Valley heritage. It had an enthusiastic beginning in May of 1959, an anniversary worth remembering and pondering.
Some faded photos from the past are a reminder of the young boy, Kyran Sorensen, who’s love for baseball stimulated the organization of a team in the Valley.