California District 18: Welcome

Tuesday, January 17

Little League® International Mourns the Passing of Ernie Lewis, Former California District 4 Administrator, Past-Member of International Board of Directors

Tuesday, January 17
The Passing of Ernie Lewis, Former California District 4 Administrator

Little League® International mourns the passing of Ernie Lewis, former California District 4 Administrator, who also served as a member of Little League International Board of Directors and International Advisory Board. He was 87.

“I will always cherish the evening that Ernie and I spent at Candlestick Park in October 1989. When the earthquake hit, I knew I was in good hands,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “To this day, a small piece of Candlestick Park resides in my office. Ernie handed me a crumbled piece of the stadium concrete and said to take it home. I think of my friend every time I look at it.”

Mr. Lewis first volunteered with Concord (Calif.) American Little League in 1965, where he served as League President. Continuing his volunteer commitment to the Little League program, Mr. Lewis joined the California District 4 staff. He was elected District 4 Administrator in 1969, serving in that role until 2010 – a term of 40 years.

During his time as a District Administrator, he was instrumental in adding Teenage Divisions, Little League Softball®, and the Little League Challenger Division® to his local leagues. He also strived to build a safe and healthy experience foe the child throughout his district by championing the importance of Little League’s A Safety Awareness Program (ASAP).

 From 1981 to 1983, Mr. Lewis represented the Western Region as representative to the Little League International Board of Directors. Following his three-year term, he went on to serve on the President’s Advisory Board. Throughout his tenure as a Little League volunteer, Mr. Lewis was committed to providing education and training for his fellow volunteers and expanding opportunities for the children in his community.

Mr. Lewis is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughters Karan and Maureen; son, Ray; and four grandchildren.

How District 18 Started

In 1952 the first city to join Little League Baseball was South Pasadena National Little League. In 1953, California District 18 was established under the leadership of District Administrator Jim Hamilton. That year San Gabriel American, San Gabriel National, San Gabriel Eastern and Sunnyslope Little League established programs. 1954 was a big year as six more leagues including Temple City American and Temple City National joined District 18. In 1958 Roy Praisler took over as the District 18 Administrator. In 1961 Mr. Praisler decided he needed an assistant to help him with the operation of the fast growing District 18. He decided to appoint a young league president from Temple City National Little League to be the Assistant District 18 Administrator, that person was Al Millham. Al Millham held the position of Assistant District Administrator until 1966 when he was elected as the District Administrator for District 18, a position he held for 28 years. At that time in 1966, the Little League program had grown to include more than 1,600,000 players. In that same year a future District 18 Administrator, Milan Mrakich, was born in Temple City, California. During Al Millhams administration, District 18 grew from having only Little League Baseball to include Junior, Senior and Big League Baseball as well as all divisions of softball. In 1984, Al Millham was elected for a three year term by his peers to the most prestigious honor of serving in the highest capacity a District Administrator can serve – as the representative of the Western Region on the Little League Baseball International Board of Directors in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Two years later in 1986 there were more than 2.5 million Little Leaguers playing worldwide. Al Millham retired as District 18 Administrator in November of 1994 and appointed long time assistant Milan Mrakich to become District 18 Administrator. Today, within District 18 there are 12 Little Leagues representing over five thousand youngsters in all divisions of baseball and softball annually and throughout the world there are over three million children on six continents playing in the Little League program.

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