Little League Baseball lost an icon and a legend in the spring of 2017, with the passing of Jim Scown. Scown was a career Butte miner who was well known for his work at Northwest Little League in Butte. He served as the league president for 26 years from 1970 to 1995. In 1988, the Northwest Little League field on Copper Street was renovated and named “Scown Field” in his honor. In 2016, Montana Little League District 2 created the Jim Scown Distinguished Little League Graduate Award in his honor.
Scown helped begin girls’ Little League softball in Montana in 1974. He was the first league president to provide girls’ softball in the Pacific Northwest, and he is credited with being a pioneer of the sport. During his tenure as president, the girls’ teams at Northwest won nine state titles.
Scown served as an officer of District 2 Little League for 21 years. He served many years as a coach of all sports at the grade school level in Butte schools. Scown’s tenure at the Northwest Little League began in 1954 as an umpire. He started coaching in 1965 with the Ossello’s club. During his own playing days, Scown participated in fast pitch softball. In 2005, Scown was inducted into the Butte Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Butte Buzzies football team.
In addition to his work pioneering girls’ fast pitch softball in Montana, Scown developed the venue known as “Scown Field” in Butte. Once a mine dump, under the shadows of the Anselmo Mine Headframe, Mr. Scown persevered throughout the years using volunteer labor, neighborhood improvement programs, and all of his heart, to create a “field of dreams” that youngsters in the State of Montana can play Little League Baseball and Softball. The facility is the host to the 2017 Little League Baseball Championship Tournament.
“Whether it be in Little League, school sports, or in the community, Jim was a champion for improving the opportunities and lives of all children and our community no matter what your name was, where you lived, or how rich or poor your family was,” Miller said. “His hard work, determination, and vision set the bar high for others to strive to live up to.”
Many of Mr. Scown’s former players have come back to the program to volunteer and help spread Little League’s message of character, loyalty, and courage. The Jim Scown Distinguished Little League Graduate Award was created in order to recognize those individuals who have come back to the program to help the program continue to flourish. Additionally, the award honors those that live out the examples of character, loyalty, and courage in their everyday lives. Establishing this award is just a small down payment on all the thanks that the former and current participants in Montana Little League District 2 owes to this man. It was once said that “Heroes are remembered, Legends live forever!” Jim Scown is a legend we are fortunate to have benefitted from.
Keith Marr is the 2017 recipient of the Jim Scown Distinguished Little League Graduate Award. Keith a lifelong Little Leaguer; he has participated in and reaped the benefits from Little League for over 35 years. Due to his military upbringing with frequent relocations, he also experienced a variety of Little League organizations ranging from his start at age 6 with T-ball in Bellevue, Nebraska to Minor and Major Leagues in Fairfax, Virginia and Fort Worth, Texas. Taking a break from baseball after playing Babe Ruth in junior high, Keith returned to the sport in 2008 with his own children in Great Falls, Montana. His involvement with youth sports continues today.
Keith fondly remembers his time as a young athlete and was thrilled when his son showed an interest in and aptitude for baseball. Graduating from his own Little League programs, he was more than willing to give back and coach multiple teams including t-ball, Minor A and B, and Majors baseball as well as Minor League softball for his two daughters. His volunteering for Westside Little League began as a coach but soon also led to serving on the Board of Directors and then leading as President from 2013-2016.
Although Keith is competitive by nature, he is a fair and compassionate coach and volunteer. He truly believes in using time on the baseball or softball field to grow solid citizens who have character, courage, and loyalty to the sport and to their peers. His approach has always been to never let the outcome of a game be outweighed by the more important benefits of belonging to a team and having fun. Another quality for which he is often recognized is his integrity; he does what he says he will do.
Mr. Marr has a keen awareness that community based programs don’t just happen; they take a multitude of dedicated volunteers who are willing to devote countless hours and energy. To that end, he credits the success of Great Falls Little League to the true team effort that occurs every year, during the season but especially behind the scenes in the off-season. His involvement in Westside Little League has been replicated with coaching and board service for many other sports and community organizations including past service for Lightning Baseball and Boys & Girls Club youth football and current service to Selects softball, Chargers baseball, CMR Quarterback Club, and United Way of Cascade County.
As a graduate of Little League programs and returning as a volunteer, Keith Marr has applied the principles of leadership, character, courage, and loyalty to his everyday life.
2016 - Meg Murphy (Butte)
2017 - Keith Marr (Great Falls)