- September 22, 2021
Ken Sawyer was honored by Steve Keener, Little League International President, and CEO. I was tipped off it was coming, and I enjoy surprises as long as they are happening to other people. For a couple of decades, I have enjoyed the privilege of being a part of the iHeart Media radio coverage of the
Ken Sawyer was honored by Steve Keener, Little League International President, and CEO.
I was tipped off it was coming, and I enjoy surprises as long as they are happening to other people.
For a couple of decades, I have enjoyed the privilege of being a part of the iHeart Media radio coverage of the annual Little League Baseball World Series. For most of that time, I have partnered with veteran announcer Ken Sawyer. Such was the case again this year, calling a series that Ken describes as “a series like no other.” Indeed, there were many obstacles to overcome to ensure this year’s Series could be played. Despite the small crowds and restrictions, 16 teams of Little Leaguers fulfilled youthful dreams of ‘getting to Williamsport’ as Taylor, Michigan Little League captured the championship with a 5-2 victory over Hamilton, Ohio.
Ken and I had called that morning’s consolation game, and were witnessing the final game as the ESPN cameras began to arrive in front of our media row seats. Suddenly the stadium’s public address system began the announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, we call your attention to the video scoreboard for a special presentation.” With that, LLB President and CEO Steve Keener appeared to present Ken with the prestigious W. Howard Hartman Friendship Award.
The award was created in 1988 to honor W. Howard Hartman, one of Little League International’s most generous and loyal friends. It is presented annually to an individual or organization who has demonstrated a similar relationship with Little League. As its 33rd recipient, Sawyer joins an impressive list that includes former broadcast colleague and mentor Bill Byham, who was honored in 1991.
“While every year’s World Series brings different sights and sounds to Williamsport, the one thing that has been consistent for the past 50 years has been the joy of listening to Ken Sawyer and his team bringing the action happening on the field directly into your homes or vehicles,” Keener said. “Not only has Ken shown his dedication and commitment as one of our tremendous radio broadcasters, but he is also the first one willing to step up and help out in any way he can to provide the best possible experience to the Little Leaguers, our fans, and communities around the world. On behalf of everyone at Little League International, I want to congratulate Ken on his 50 years of tremendous service and on receiving this prestigious award.”
Ken began his Little League World Series broadcasts in 1971. Even after retiring after more than 40 years as a local radio personality on WRAK in 2013, he has continued his broadcasting coverage of the Series.
Indeed, Sawyer is the consummate professional, always willing to help others while displaying an outward appearance of ‘everything is OK even if it isn’t.’ However, as the stadium PA announcement continued and the TV cameras focused in, he tried his best to contain the emotion swelling within. He almost made it before some telltale moisture ran down his face. A Keener handshake, a wave to the crowd, and smiles all around captured the moment that could be shared with 11 family members that were secretly assembled at the stadium to witness the well-deserved tribute.
Not one to allow him to escape unscathed, fellow broadcaster Tom O’Malley shook his hand, saying, “Congratulations, Ken. Wow, 50 years, most of the people in this stadium aren’t even that old!” That in itself makes the milestone even more significant.
For me, my time sharing a microphone alongside Ken has been pretty simple. Come airtime; I put on a headset; watch a Little League game, and talk baseball to whoever may be listening. Ken does all the other stuff; makes sure all the equipment is working, compiles detailed statistical information, maintains an orderly flow of commercials and announcements, and gives ample opportunities to our man-in-the-crowd, Tom Speicher, and me to add our two-cents to what may be happening around us.
Sawyer grew up in North Carolina, lived in Delaware and the suburbs of Philadelphia before serving with the Army in Viet Nam. He relocated to Williamsport only because WWPA was the only radio station that responded favorably to his resume/tape distribution seeking employment following his discharge from the military. Since that time, he has become somewhat of a community treasure, with his love of Little League Baseball at his very core.
With this award, Little League Baseball has recognized the contributions he has made. From above, Bill Byham is smiling, as are Gary Chrisman, Tom O’Malley, Tom Speicher, and I, who have enjoyed these many years of following his lead in calling the Little League World Series action.
The W. Howard Hartman award is in very good hands!1 comment