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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2013 > January-April > Little League® International Mourns the Passing of Long-Time Board of Directors Member and Dedicated Volunteer, Dr. Luke LaPorta

Little League® International Mourns the Passing of Long-Time Board of Directors Member and Dedicated Volunteer, Dr. Luke LaPorta

Little League® International Mourns the Passing of Long-Time Board of Directors Member and Dedicated Volunteer, Dr. Luke LaPorta

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A 40-year member and past Chairman of the Little League® International Board of Directors, and the founder of Little League in central New York, Luke LaPorta, Ph.D., passed away on Tuesday, November 19, in Geddes, N.Y., at the age of 89.

“There are few people in the history of Little League Baseball and Softball who have had a bigger impact on the organization than Dr. LaPorta,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “His direct influence and leadership helped make the organization what it is today. He was truly a pioneer in youth sports, and we are going to miss him terribly.”

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Dr. LaPorta speaking at the 1960 Little League International Congress in Chicago.

In 1948, Dr. LaPorta, then pursuing his Masters of Education at Syracuse University, read a Saturday Evening Post article about Little League and decided to make a trip to Williamsport to meet with Little League Founder, Carl E. Stotz. Mr. Stotz and Dr. LaPorta quickly forged a friendship, and Dr. LaPorta started establishing Little League programs throughout central New York, starting with Liverpool Little League in 1950.

Dr. LaPorta joined the Little League International Board of Directors in 1973, and served until his death. In 1984, he was elected as Little League International’s fourth Chairman of the Board, and held the post until 1997. During his tenure as Chair, he oversaw vast expansion globally and domestically of Little League Baseball and Softball, including the establishment of the Little League Challenger Division, for children with physical and developmental challenges. His 13 years as Chairman is the second longest tenure in the 75-year history of Little League. Only Peter J. McGovern served as Chair longer.

“Dr. LaPorta’s dedication to the betterment of children through sport is second to none,” said Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, Little League International Board of Directors Chairman and President of Pennsylvania College of Technology. “From Little League to high school athletics and beyond, Dr. LaPorta’s efforts has directly affected millions of people around the world. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Marie, and his entire family at this difficult time.”

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Dr. LaPorta in his office at Syracuse University. 

Photo Courtesy of Syracuse University.

Dr. LaPorta’s dedication to youth sports expanded well past Little League. Born in Jamaica, N.Y., in 1924, he received three degrees from Syracuse University, after serving in the U.S. Navy. He was also a member of the Syracuse football team, and was named a Syracuse University Letterman of Distinction in 1980.

In addition to being a pioneer for Little League, Dr. LaPorta helped shape high school sports as athletic director of Liverpool High School for 31 years. He received the National Athletic Director of the Year Award in 1972 and 1978. He went on to serve as Development Director at Syracuse University, was a Board member for the Minor League Baseball team, the Syracuse Chiefs, was a founder of the Empire State Games and is enshrined in the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.

“Athletics are a building block for kids,” said Dr. LaPorta in a 1994 interview for Syracuse Magazine. “Any skill youngsters can gain and build upon will give them a better self-image. Sports provide opportunities for success and learning. It's a great way to help kids.”

The family has requested you join them for a Memorial Service on Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 2 p.m. to celebrate Luke's life at Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University Campus. A reception will follow in Heroy Geology Building Lobby. In lieu of flowers, donations in Luke's memory may be made to Liverpool Dollars for Scholars, C/O Luke LaPorta Scholarship Fund, PO Box 32, Liverpool, NY 13088.

To view a photo gallery and read more about Dr. LaPorta, click here.