Belmont Redwood Shores Little League: History
History of Belmont/Redwood Shores Little League
First year of play: 1957 or 1958
First District Championship: 1986
First Sectional and State Championship: 2013
Number of Majors D52 Titles: 4 (1986, 2000, 2013, 2016)
Other Titles: 9/10 (1997, 2011), 10/11 (2012, 2016), Big League 16-18 (1981, 1982, 1984?, 1985)
They say baseball has been played in Belmont since 1895, when teams were fielded by the Belmont School for Boys, and certainly various league came and went in those early days when games were played on a field on Old County Road.
Little League was founded in 1939 in Williamsport, PA, and grew rapidly every year. By the time the first league was founded outside of the US in 1951, there were already 775 Little Leagues across the country. In 1957, Little League set it sights on California, what was to become it’s biggest state. Little League divided California into 33 districts numbered from North to South and a host of new leagues were born. Belmont was one of those original leagues and started play in 1958 as part of District 11. After just 5 years of play, Belmont Little League comprised 14 teams and a total of 210 players age 12 and under.
In 1966 District 11 split, and the new District 52 was formed, where we continue to play today. The following year the old Marina field was constructed. This was to be Belmont Little Leagues primary home for over 20 years. It was a classic “sunken diamond” design, and was in approximately the same location as it’s name-sake where we play today. (The home plate from this field is on display in the Snack Shack.) There were no other fields around at the time - only garbage from the neighboring Belmont garbage dump.
At this time, the league had grown to be comprised of two divisions. Kids 9-12 competed to play in Majors, and those who didn’t make the cut played in Minors. By 1978, we were regularly fielding 8 Majors teams, and a growing number of Minors teams split into AAA and AA divisions. The schedule played would be familiar today. The Majors teams played two games a week at the old Marina field. The Minors teams were playing on fields at Nesbit and McDougal and later IHM, Cipriani, Central and Ralston. From 1981 to 1983 a “A” division for T-ball was played.
The league was reorganized in 1984 into fewer larger divisions: an 8 team Majors, a 9 team Minors and a expanded 12 team Farm division. This was refined over several years with Majors playing at the old Marina, Minors at IHM and Farm up at Ralston.
Belmont Sports Complex and Recent Growth
1990 saw the opening of the new Belmont Sports Complex (then called “Island Park”) and the new Marina field on which we still play today. That year saw us hold the Distrct 52 and Sectional tournaments for the first time. Part of this reorganization put Minors back on the same two fields at Nesbit they play on today, and Farm on the three fields at Ralston (one of which was lost due to school expansion in 2012).
In 1993, after a 10 year hiatus, a dedicated T-Ball division was added with just two teams. By 1998 the division was up to 12 teams. Farm as well was busting at the seams with 18 teams by 1999.
Although Redwood Shores had been part of the Belmont Little League for many years, the league was finally renamed Belmont/Redwood Shores Little league in 1998. The league cross 500 players for the first time that year. Finally in 2000, Farm was split in two and the Minors divisions were re-named, giving us the AAA, AA and Farm divisions we have today.
In 2014, the T-ball division was split in two: T-Ball Rookies for the 5 year olds and T-Ball Veterans for the 6 year olds. The Veterans teams start the season with T-Ball, but progress to a coach-pitch level by the end of the season.
In 2016, we added our first new division in 15 years as “Intermediate (50/70)” play began. This division is for players age 13.
The league has continued to grow crossing 600 players for the first time in 2010 and 700 player for the first tie just 4 years later. Since it’s inception the league has bounced between 6 and 8 Majors teams, but in 2014 for the first time we had to field 9 Majors teams. 2016 was our largest year yet with a record 59 teams.
For many years, the other baseball league in Belmont has been the Belmont (now Bel-Mateo) Babe Ruth league, for kids age 13 to 15. Many kids after completing their time in Majors moved over to Babe Ruth to play on the full-sized diamond. Bel-Mateo Babe Ruth has played on the North field at Belmont Sports Complex since it opened in 1990.
In later years those looking for a smoother transition to the full-sized diamond played in Pony leagues in nearby cities. In 2007, the Belmont/Redwood Shores Pony League was founded by Jay Anthony whose son was graduating from Little League. For the Pony league, the east field at Ralston was converted from a Little League diamond into the larger Pony diamond. Jay ran the Pony league for over 10 years, until it’s program was folded back into Little League in 2016 as the new Intermediate Division. A similar change was happening across the Peninsula and the Peninsula Pony League ceased operation after the 2016 fall season.
Starting in 1981, Little League ran one or two a “Big League” teams for kids age 16 - 18 to play after they graduated from Babe Ruth. They played against teams from Half Moon Bay, San Mateo and later Redwood City and Alpine, and had their home games at Carlmont. The Belmont team won the D52 championship in 1981, again in 1982 and 1985 (and maybe in 1984 too)! In 1984 the team was known as the “Belmont Royals”, and in 1985 as the “Belmont Brewers”. The Big League season was in the summer, after high school baseball is over, so there is little information about them in the yearbooks and it’s not clear when this league ended, but there is no mention of it after 1986.
The Foul Ball Dance
In the late 1970s and 1980s, a major fundraiser for the league was the “Foul Ball Dance”. This most often took place at Marina World Africa USA (located where Oracle is today) or sometimes at the Greek Orthodox Church on Alameda. Over time this became a joint even with the Babe Ruth league and the girl’s softball “Bobby Sox” league.
From the start, we have competed in the end of the season International Little League All-Star tournament. The All-Star team was comprised of the best players from the “Majors” division. These teams first compete in a district tournament, then the winner advances to a sectional tournament, then a state tournament, and for the lucky few a regional tournament in San Bernadino and finally the Little League World Series in Williamsport.
It took us 20 year of trying, but finally won our first District 52 title in 1986. That team also almost won the Section 2 tournament, loosing in the championship game to North Vallejo by the score of 2-0.
In 1994, in addition to the Majors all-star tournament for 11 and 12 year olds, Little League started the 9/10 tournament for younger players. And later added also a 10/11 tournament to fill in the last gap.
We won our first 9/10 District 52 championship in 1997. Shortly thereafter, in 2000, we won our second District 52 championship. Once again, we advanced to the Section 3 title game before loosing to San Ramon Valley 10-4. There was one player who played on the 19979/10 teams as a 9 year old and was also on the 2000 team as a 12 year old. He was the first BRSLL player to win two championships.
In 2011, we started a historic run to our first state title. Under manager Rudy Lopez, our 2011 9/10 team won both District 52 and Section 3 championships. The next year in 2012, they repeated as District 52 championships, but were unable to re-capture the Section 3 title.
In 2013 they ran the table in the D52 11/12 tournament, and they avenged the 2000 team by beating San Ramon in the Section 3 title game 2-0. The Northern California championship wasn’t as easy. They were lost one game before the championship to Santa Cruz American 2-0. After a big 12-1 win to get back to the championship game they had to defeat Santa Cruz twice in a row, and they did without giving up a single run, winning 2-0 and then 9-0.
This victory led them to the Western Regional tournament for the first time not only in league history, but were the first team from District 52 to reach that level. They were the only team to score a perfect 4 wins in pool play, allowing a tournament-low 5 runs. In the last pool play game they defeated the Southern California champions 3-2. However, the tournament was not to be theirs. After defeating Arizona to advance to the championship game, they were unable to hold off SoCal and lost 9-0. The SoCal team ended up winning the US Championship at Williamsport, but lost the World Championship.
In 2016, BRSLL achieved another first by winning two District championships in the same year. The 11/12 team won over Pacifica American and the 10/11 team won over Alpine. This brings our total number of D52 flags to eight.
Jonathan Gibbs (2016 - 2017)
Ken Knobel (2013 - 2015)
Mike Davies (2011 - 2012)
Craig Jones (2009 - 2010)
Dan Dutra (2005 - 2008)
Dave Hendershott (2003 - 2004)
Dave Lawrence (2001 - 2002)
Mike Biddle (1999 - 2000)
Allan Karcich (1997 - 1998)
Tom Walsh (1996)
Gay Barton (1995)
Steve Hayes (1993 - 1994)
Sharon Gosh (1992)
Roy Varney (1991)
Brian Rianda (1988 - 1990)
Bruce MacDuckston (1986 - 1987)
Bob Curran (1984 - 1985)
Dick Gay (1978 - 1983)
Presidents prior to 1978 are unknown to use - let us know if you know one!