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  Summit Point League History Saturday, April 21, 2018  

Founder and Former League President

"In the summer of 1963, several young boys knocked on the door of Ernie and Joyce Rudolph's home to ask if Mr. Rudolph would teach them how to play baseball. Thus was the humble beginning of the current organization that now consists of a total of 19 teams. No one realized on that fateful day what a phenomenal circumstance had occurred. The course of history for children in Summit Point would be positively affected for the next 36 years. Mr. Rudolph told the young boys to meet him at the old school yard the following Saturday, and he would give them some pointers. They were excited because "Mr. Rudolph" was a transplant coach from the Little League system in Charles Town, and they had heard that he was a good coach. He coached in the system beginning in 1956 and brought his team to a championship position, so his reputation preceded him (at least with little boys wanting to learn to play ball).

The enthusiasm of the children was contagious and Ernie decided this would be a great opportunity to fulfill his dream of starting a league that allowed every child to play that wanted to. He often lamented to his wife while in the Charles Town system that he could not stand the disappointment of the children who were not selected and that all interested children should be permitted to participate. Joyce supported him completely and encouraged him to start the league in Summit Point. This meant using their private funds to purchase balls and bats, but they were unanimous in their commitment to the children. Their own children later benefited from the offerings of the league. Later Ernie contacted friends in the Charles Town league and asked for discarded uniforms and equipment. They were very supportive and provided the Summit Point group with their used equipment. In the early years at the school-yard in front of the Methodist Church, the first tee-ball group was formed. The mothers of the children dubbed it the "diaper league" and it rapidly became one of the highlights of the program. Once when a little boy in the "diaper league" ran to second base, he yelled over to his mother and said, "Mommy, I made a half a home run". Also, during those early years, some of the children did not have phones, so it was difficult to contact them if a game needed to be called off because of rain. However, a young player approached Ernie with a solution; he asked him to please send him a postcard if the game was rained out because he didn't have access to a phone.

Later in 1972, the league constructed a new field at South Jefferson Elementary School and moved the operation. They remained there until 1979 when Ernie was approached by Mr. Q.D. Flemming to consider putting his league in the Summit Point Park. At that time, the park consisted of a huge cornfield and a few areas of vacant land. The decision was made to accept the offer and the league built the first of many ball fields to come. A few years later, Governor Rockefeller presented Ernie the highest State award available for community service, and in conjunction with the honor the Parks and Recreation Board formally dedicated the first ball field as the "Ernest W. Rudolph Field". The honors bestowed upon Ernie have been significant over many years, but the most rewarding thing for him has been that his sons, Mark, Paul, and John all share his philosophy and continue to participate as coaches and instructors. The family goals continue with the next generation."

As Compiled and Written by Ernest W. Rudolph

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