By Bill Foley
Butte Little League Baseball players tipped their caps Thursday evening at Jim Scown Field.
The gesture came as the young players were introduced before the 9-10 game between Pepsi of the Northwest Little League and the Coke Orioles of the Mile High Little League.
It also served as a tip of the cap to the man responsible for the “Field of Dreams” on which the boys were playing.
Jim Scown, a Little League Baseball pioneer, died last week at 89. His funeral was Thursday at St. Ann’s Church in Butte. A ceremony he would have truly cherished took placer later in the day on the baseball field that was fittingly named in his honor in 1988.
Keith Miller, Little League Baseball District 2 administrator in Montana, addressed a crowd of parents, players, administrations and members of the Scown family before the game.
“He turned a mine dump into this beautiful facility,” said Miller, a former Northwest Little League president who cut his teeth in Little League baseball under Scown. “You guys get the honor to come up here and play on this field.”
Miller also pointed out that in 1974 Scown became the first league president in the Pacific Northwest to charter girls’ softball.
“Without guys like Jim Scown, there wouldn’t be Title IX,” Miller said.
The crowd included Pat Scown, Jim’s wife of 45 years. It included past league president Don Davis and current league president Greg McGillen.
Scown’s old Ford Ranger, with license plates that read “Scown,” was positioned perfectly in the parking lot.
On the field stood Jim Scown’s grandson, Brandon Scown, the head coach of the Pepsi team. Jim’s great-grandson Jordan Scown started at second base for Pepsi. Great-grandson Dominik Scown was the umpire in the field.
“Heroes get remembered … Legends never die.”
Miller referenced that line from the movie “The Sandlot” during his speech.
“There’s a lot of people in town whose lives have been affected by Jim Scown,” Miller said. “He’s not only an icon and a hero. He is a legend.”
Miller had a message for the players before he wrapped up.
“Keep playing. Always keep playing,” Miller told the boys. “We don’t play enough in this world. We need you guys to just play and have fun. That’s the important thing.”
Miller also had a message for the adults: be more like Jim Scown.
“Get into and help preserve programs like Little League Baseball,” Miller said. “Help build these boys into fine young men. Help build the girls into fine young women.”
After Miller’s speech, he introduced each player and coach. The players then stepped forward and tipped their cap like they did when Jim Scown was at the mic at that very ballpark.
The national anthem was played before Miller led the players and crowd in a repeat-after-me reciting of the Little League Pledge, something Scown did before every game.
Finally, the boys took the field and started to play.