Stars of 1951 Austin Little League team reunite

Five members of the 1951 North Austin Lions reunited July 16 at the Austin History Center to reminisce at the opening of a new exhibit.

As current little leaguers compete for a spot at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., members from the 1951 North Austin Lions reunited Sunday.

Five members from the team met at the Austin History Center to share stories of their historic run and help kick off a new exhibit.

"I never wanted to hang around with old guys, but these old guys I like hanging around with," joked Harvey Mabry, the team's star first baseman. A picture of Mabry running home after hitting a home run in a semi-final game was one of dozens of photos on display in the exhibit, titled "Play Ball: Austin and the Great American Pastime!"

The hysteria of the run has not been lost on players, many of whom still remember the widespread attention their success attracted.

"After the second game against California, and I got swamped with people wanting my autograph. The sheer magnitude of the crowd and then people coming up and wanting my autograph," said Mabry.

Their dreams of a championship were derailed in the finals, a 3-0 loss to Stamford, Conn.

"It was disappointing to lose it, but it was still such a fantastic event, that my remorse was very short-lived," said pitcher Lester Kitchen.

But to many, that was just a mere footnote to the incredible summer.

"That we made it to the World Series Finals, and it was just an honor. And when we came back home the city treated us so nicely, and had a nice ride home on a fire engine when we came home," said Kitchen.

Inspired in part by their run, Kitchen ended up returning to the sport he loved.

"It really goes back to I started coaching somewhere between 7 and 11 years after I got through, to pay back for my nice experience that I had," Kitchen explained.

Mabry hopes to see another local team embark on a historic run, much like they did 66 years ago.

"It's hard to believe because we never saw ourselves that way. To think, when I look at the Little League World Series on television now, and look at the quality of the teams, I just think Texas ought to be in there every year. And Austin ought to be in there for sure every year," Mabry said.

The exhibit is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 12 to 6 p.m. through mid-August.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment