It was 1961. A new car cost about $2,850, a gallon of gas was .27 cents;a dozen eggs would run you about .30 cents and if you wanted to buy a new house, you would have to find $12,500 to do it. John F. Kennedy was president of the USA, the Soviets sent the first human to space and on TV, shows like My Three Sons, Andy Griffith and The Flintstones were popular. The Oscar went to West Side Story for Best Picture and Ray Kroc bought McDonalds.
Baseball was America’s favorite past time – the New York Yankees won the 1961 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. And Ventura was a small, seaside community. Who remembers stores like Newberry’s and Gallenkamps and Korb’s? It was a growing community of families…and kids.
And that’s where the dream began…
Montalvo Little League was organized in April 1961 by Lewis “Mac” McLean and his wife, Pat. When the Little League boundaries in Ventura changed, Mac discovered there was no Little League in Montalvo. When the Little League commissioner suggested Mac start his own, he went to work and Montalvo Little League was formed in a few short weeks. Mac’s dream of having a place for the kids to play was underway. Mac and Pat were our first President and Secretary. Saticoy Lemon Association was our benefactor and gave us the property for our first field – the original field is located on Bristol Road behind the lemon factory, in fact, Bristol Rd. goes right through it now. Not only did they give us their property for our playing field but also gave us the paint for our buildings, connected us to their water supply, helped us with the fencing and most importantly furnished us with free – you guessed it – lemonade!
The league began with four teams and even in 1961 our snack bar (affectionately called “Hattie’s Headache”) had quite a good reputation! The community came together and a grand total of nearly 200 local businesses, large and small, contributed to the development of Montalvo Little League. The league became the city’s largest and provided an excellent atmosphere for summertime entertainment.
After 10 most rewarding and successful years at our original site, a move was necessary due to the expansion of the league. And although the Lemon Association generously offered us a new site in Saticoy the decision was made to stay in Montalvo. But where would the new field be located? In 1971, Mac McLean and the leadership of MLL went to work again, this time gaining help from Shell Oil Company. These men – “the Shell Men” – Harry Becker, Dick Horner, Percy Anglin, Tom Prinz, Jack Boucher, “Champ” Champlin and Mac, all worked for Shell or were retirees but more importantly were Montalvo Little League volunteers who were dedicated to seeing the dream of youth baseball continue. The Shell Men along with a group of very dedicated, determined citizens raised the necessary $48,000 to make the move to our present site on Johnson Drive.
The 1970’s were busy and active years for MLL. As community growth headed eastward, Montalvo’s membership stayed strong. The Women’s Auxiliary ran the snack bar and yes, even rolled corn burritos back then!
Then, in 1974 the league was faced with another challenge: they wanted to purchase the remaining property that the league played on, but it was owned by the Ventura Unified School District and would soon be considered for public sale. True to form, MLL went to work again and raised the money necessary to bid on the land that is now the junior field (Biesecker Field). In order to get the land, the league had to outbid a church and after many months of negotiations, Montalvo ultimately won the bid. Once again, hard work paid off and MLL expanded – ground was broken!
The 80s and 90s were robust and substantial decades for Montalvo. We began to see second generation Montalvo Little Leaguers and those who had grown up here would even stop by for the occasional snack bar “fix”!
The future is bright in the new millenium for Montalvo Little League. We continue to rely on the spirit of volunteerism and support of our community. We look ahead to the growth of our league and providing our community a solid youth sports program.