ALBION, Mich. (AP) — Some of the first T-ball players are working to create a museum to commemorate the sport’s roots in southern Michigan.
Lonnie Spencer played on some of the original T-ball teams in Albion. Spencer told the Battle Creek Enquirer that he and other residents want to build a museum to educate the public about how the sport was developed in Albion.
The proposed T-Ball Hall of Fame and Baseball Museum doesn’t have a location yet, but the group hopes to settle plans by this summer, Spencer said. The exhibits would likely include a list of the game’s original rules, old photographs and the original tee.
“This particular part of Albion’s history is a vital connection to the world of youth baseball and is the foundation of all baseball programs around the world,” he said. He went on to add, “And there is a group of us who are interested in making Albion worthy of being called the home of T-ball.”
Several people and leagues have claimed to have invented T-ball.
Spencer said the sport’s history can be traced to 1956. Jerry Sacharski, who received a patent for a batting tee, was an Albion High School baseball coach and led a youth baseball program in the summer. Sacharski invented the game for his players’ younger brothers who would tag along to practice.
“He saw those younger boys hanging around with nothing to do, and once in a while, they would pick up a stray glove and toss a ball, so he had the idea to … get them involved, too,” said Sacharski’s son Michael Sacharski.
Sacharski said his father created a league for boys ages 6-8 that used a different set of rules centered on skill building. The batting tee removed the game’s emphasis on hitting.
“He did all of this with the idea of teaching fielding, throwing, catching and running. That was his priority,” Michael Sacharski said.
Sacharski said he and his brothers want to make sure the museum properly honors the memory of their father.
“I think he would not want it to be about him, but instead be about the legacy of the game,” Sacharski said. “That’s what he would say.”