PROSPECT — For most of his nearly 60 years of volunteer service to Little League, Wendle Stiber has worked behind the scenes. Last Saturday, he stepped on the field and took a bow.
Prospect Little League named its new tee-ball field after Stiber, who has been assisting Little League at the local, state, regional, and national level in some capacity since 1952. The ceremony took place moments before game one of the Little League Baseball state championship at the Fusco Field Complex.
“I like being out of the limelight,” said Stiber, a Beacon Falls resident. “I prefer to do my business in the background.”
Despite his humble approach, Stiber was surprised by friends, family, and Little League officials in Prospect on July 30 before a crowd of several hundred. The idea began with volunteers at Prospect Little League, who thought it was time to bring Stiber to the forefront.
“To do what he’s done for kids for over 50 years is unbelievable,” said Prospect Little League President Peter Rek, who noted Stiber helped his league move to District 3.
The district represents most towns in the Naugatuck Valley, including Beacon Falls, Naugatuck and Prospect. That move helped Prospect Little League improve its standing, according to league officials.
Stiber attended opening day ceremonies at Prospect earlier this year. Rek learned that there wasn’t a field named after Stiber and he began the movement to make it happen.
“He’s Mr. Little League,” said Dave Seeger, who has worked with Stiber for the last 31 years and serves as an assistant administrator for District 3. “Wendle’s heart is in this game. He lives and breathes Little League.”
Stiber started at Peter J. Foley Little League in 1952 after his brother Chester asked him to help rake the field after a game. Soon Stiber took on more tasks—and embraced them.
For the next 10 years, Stiber held numerous titles at Foley to ensure the league ran smoothly for the youth of Naugatuck. In 1962, Stiber went with the then-district administrator to a meeting of league presidents in Derby.
“The meeting went on forever and lasted until about 2 a.m., and the administrator said he had one more order of business,” Stiber said. “He said, ‘I’m resigning effective immediately and I nominate Wendle to be the new administrator.’”
The rest is history. In 1963, Stiber was confirmed by the Little League headquarters in Williamsport, Pa., and advanced to the rank of the Connecticut District 3 administrator.
Stiber holds the longest tenure among Connecticut’s 11 district administrators and serves as state coordinator for Little League. But his reach goes beyond the state.
In each of the last 45 years, Stiber has made the trip to Williamsport for the annual Little League Baseball World Series to help out. He’s become such a mainstay that he has room at a local hotel named after him.
“I’ve enjoyed my time,” said Stiber, who plans to return to Williamsport later this month for the World Series.
Once he returns it’s back to business. After all, as the current District 3 administrator and state coordinator, Stiber says there’s more work to be done for the boys and girls involved in Little League.
“Soon I’ll have to begin thinking about doing next year’s schedule,” Stiber said.