Little League® International is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Dr. Creighton J. Hale, a titan of the youth sports industry, accomplished safety innovator, and former President and CEO of Little League International. Dr. Hale (1924-2017), served as Little League President from 1973 to 1994, and was appointed Chief Executive Officer in 1983.
Dr. Hale, 93, joined Little League as the Director of Research in 1955. His research efforts led to innovations that changed the way the game of baseball was played, and his vision helped make Little League a fabric of neighborhoods and communities around the world. He was the second full-time President in the history of the organization, succeeding Peter J. McGovern. From 1994 to 2001, Dr. Hale served as special advisor to current Little League President and CEO, Stephen D. Keener. He announced his retirement from the Little League International Board of Directors in 2014, after 60 years with the organization.
“Little League would not be what it is today without the unequaled leadership of Dr. Hale,” said Mr. Keener. “Through his 60-year tenure with Little League, his legacy is arguably one of the most important in the history of sports. Personally, I could not have asked for a more dedicated mentor and kind, thoughtful friend, and I will miss him deeply. We are forever grateful for Dr. Hale’s lasting impact on our program, and for his leadership and counsel over these many years. During this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Beverly, as well as his children, family, and many friends.”
Prior to joining Little League, Dr. Hale was an Associate Professor of Physiology at Springfield (Mass.) College. He earned degrees from Colgate University, Springfield College, and New York University. Originally from Hardy, Neb., Dr. Hale’s research and innovations in the games of baseball and softball led to the development of the double ear-flap batter’s helmet, catcher’s helmet, chest protector with throat guard, and the non-wood baseball bat. As Little League President and CEO, he oversaw vast expansion of the Little League program domestically and abroad, the inclusion of girls in the Little League program, the creation of Little League Softball® and the Little League Challenger Division®, and provided millions of children the opportunity to play baseball and softball.
“My father and I had the greatest admiration for Dr. Creighton Hale and we both served as Trustees on the Little League Foundation Board,” said Peter O’Malley, former longtime Los Angeles Dodgers owner and President. “Dr. Hale was a pioneer and his vision to innovate equipment for safety was internationally recognized. His passion for growing inner-city baseball was instrumental in giving more children an opportunity to enjoy playing our national pastime. Our thoughts are with Mrs. Hale and their family.”
In addition to his advances in safety equipment for baseball and softball, Dr. Hale served as chairman of the military committee that oversaw the development of the Kevlar helmet, as well as the lightweight bullet-proof vest. Through his accomplishments, Dr. Hale received countless honors both locally in the Williamsport community, and nationally, from USA Baseball, the White House, the American College of Sports Medicine, and more. Under Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, Dr. Hale served on the President’s Council for Youth Fitness.
“Dr. Hale was an inspiration; he was the consummate gentleman and a leader in his field of science, youth sports and Little League in particular,” said Davie Jane Gilmour, Ph.D., Little League International Board of Directors Chairman. “My life is more rich for the time we spent together laughing, thinking and looking to the future.”
He was a Charter Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, and a Presidential Appointee to the White House Conference for a Drug-Free America. Dr. Hale was the published author of nearly 30 research articles.
Dr. Hale is survived by his wife, Beverly and his children, Tad (Jenny) Hale and Kathy Dumanis. Also surviving Dr. Hale are 10 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his son, Timothy, and parents, Russell and Anita.