Cumberland Times-News

Mike Mathews - Sports

November 24, 2009

A dream became reality for many because of Femi

Pick up a newspaper during the summer months and you’ll find plenty of baseball scores.

Especially Little League scores. The number of leagues seems endless. Major Division, Minor Division, Pee Wee Division. Coach Pitch, Instructional League, T-Ball. You name it, we’ve got it here in our little neck of the woods.

It didn’t used to be that way, though. Didn’t used to be that way at all.

That’s why the recent naming of LaVale Lions Field on Braddock Road in memory of the late Ted T. Femi was a grand slam of an idea. The Lions and everyone involved who helped make it happen deserve a Major League pat on the back.

It’s impossible to truly know how many youngsters may not have gotten to play Little League baseball if not for Femi, who passed away last year.

“I remember in 1949 at Penn Avenue Field, sitting under the lights watching a game when my dad began talking about how we needed to have Little League baseball for the kids in the outer areas,” said son Ted, who was 6 at the time.

At the time Cumberland had the only Little League, Ted said. That soon changed with his father leading the charge.

The Femis lived in Ellerslie and the very next year, 1950, Femi organized a Little League team and was instrumental in the formation of the Pen-Mar League. The league began with teams in Ellerslie, Corriganville, Barrelville and Hyndman, Pa.

The league kicked off with a parade, complete with marching band and fire trucks, in Hyndman, followed by the season-opening games, recalled Rich Lybarger, an 8-year-old outfielder on the first Ellerslie team.

“We wouldn’t have had a team if it weren’t for Ted,’’ Lybarger said. “He’s the one that did it all. He was all business, a really good guy and a really good guy to play for.”

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Mike Mathews - Sports
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