Little League NC District 3: History Of District 3

Friday, February 10
The Jim Whittington District

Why Is Little League NC District 3 Called The Jim Whittington District?

This is an article written by Bill Caldwell, past NC District 3 DA :

I first met Mr. Whittington when I was 10 years old. I cut grass in the neighborhood to earn extra money during the summer and mowed regularly for Chief Jim Jameson, one of Charlotte’s most respected Fire Chiefs. Mr. Whittington lived next door and his lawn always looked in need of a good cut. One day a very tall and quite skinny man approached me during a break at Chief Jameson’s house. “How much does the Chief pay,” he asked, holding an unlit cigar in his mouth. “Well, he pays $2.50 and I pay for the gas.” “Well, I’ll pay you $3.00 if you get me first and you can use my gas until it is all used up.” The deal was done. He climbed into his long black car and off he went.

I learned later that he was an undertaker and in politics, two suitable validations for the black car. Fast forward, I received a call one day from Mr. Jim and he said one of his Leagues needed some help and asked that I meet with the League and get involved. “You have boys, so get involved so they will have Little League when the time comes.” That call and help from Don Hastin started my involvement in Little League.

Mr. Whittington had formed Hankins and Whittington funeral home with his friend Hank Hankins, and served the city of Charlotte on City Council and was City Pro-tem. He also continued his roll with Little League. You see, he founded Little League in Charlotte with Dilworth and Myers Park in 1952-53. He built the Little League field in Freedom Park on Princeton Avenue. Later, we dedicated the field to Mr. Whittington, forever to be known as James B. Whittington Little League Field.

Mr. Whittington had no children. He had a wonderful wife, Jan. Never had the “blessing”, he would say, but I have thousands at the end of the day. Mr. Whittington became Chairman of the Board of Little League International and is enshrined in the Little League Hall of Fame, in Williamsport, PA. I use to meet Mr. Whittington at his office on East Blvd. in Charlotte. He talked about his love for his Leagues in District III, and the joy of meeting and working with so many people. He loved everyone. I have never heard a bad word about Mr. Jim Whittington. He was Mr. Little League and one of my best friends.

Just a few years before his passing, we had a chance to celebrate Little League and Mr. Whittington’s accomplishments in Charlotte with a float in the Thanksgiving Carolinas Carousel Parade. He would be on the “throne” on the float. We had not told Mr. Whittington that his was the main attraction, so it took Jan, Don Hastin and me to get him to come down and “see off” the kids. I had arranged for Mr. John Belk, Chairman of Belk stores and past major to usher Mr. Whittington to his float. Mr. Belk rode directly in front as the Grand Marshall of that year’s parade. I’ve got a picture of the two old veterans. I will never forget how happy he was with the honor that day.

Mr. Whittington never missed church at First Baptist. My boys would run down the stairs after church and help him to his long black car. He would always give my wife Ross a hug along with the boys and unwrap the cigar I placed in his top pocket and place it in position, but not to light. Jan would fuss.

In the late summer of 1999 in Hilton Head on vacation with the family, I received word that Mr. Whittington had passed away. We cut things short that year to make it back to the funeral at First Baptist. His best buddy from Stough Memorial Baptist in Pineville led the service which was a “celebration” of the life of Mr. Little League. He truly loved his many friends in District III.

When approached by the League Presidents this Fall about taking over as the leader of District III, I told them that I would use the “Jim Whittington model” to organize and operate the District. My plan was to recruit the best people to include in an organization that would be helpful and respectful to the Leagues and add value. A new era has started in District III as we take the reins of “Mr. Whittington’s District.” You will see that we have accomplished our first goal of organizing our team. I want to thank everyone for joining what I believe will be a fun and rewarding ride together.

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