History of Riviera Little League

Torrance Herald - June 6, 1957
It's just wonderful to watch community swing into concerted action.  Example of the things that can be accomplished by concerted action is the new Riviera Little League which opened its season with four games last Saturday at their new field adjacent to Kissel Field.  In less than two months, striving parents have formed a league for 150 leftover boys who were not chosen by the existing little league. They found a field of weeds to be made into a playing field.  They transformed the field into a little league park.  They organized the league, chose officers and set up the teams. They procured financial backing and equipment for playing.  And, last Saturday, the boys, trotted out onto their field to play ball.  That's progress!  Last week, the parents met to elect their league officers for the year.  In as President is Don Owens, spark plug of the effort.  Ted Carroll was elected Vice President in charge of managers and coaches; Hugh Winesett, Vice President in charge of the playing field; M. C. Spauding, Treasurer; Mrs. Richard Ohlman, Secretary; Ed Perry, Players' Agent; Charles Hobbs, Equipment Manager; Joe Manning, Chief Umpire; Richard Ohlman, Players' Tryouts; and Earl Thompson, Practice Fields.

Torrance Herald - January 18, 1962
Riviera Little League President Paul E. Kent announced that the league which has played ball for so many seasons at Kissel Field is now vacating the land due to plans for its commercial development.  Saturday and Sunday of last week were “tear-down” days at the field with volunteer parents pitching in to dismantle fences, snack bars, and other equipment.

Press Herald: May 26, 1965
Apartment-dwellers near Riviera Little League new ball parks may have been alarmed the first of the month when awakened by the sound of “The National Anthem” at 7:30 in the morning!

It was opening day for the Little League and not too difficult that morning for the 240 boys to rise and shine, especially with the dedication of two spanking new ball diamonds at Ocean Ave. and 238th St.

A surprisingly large number of families braved the early-morning starting time for the traditional opening ceremonies led by League President Bill Thompson.

Reason for the early start was the timing of a full schedule of major and minor games which had to be completed before nightfall.

On hand to umpire the first game between the Yankees and Athletics was Robert Sullivan who arrived home in the middle of the night from a business trip to Ohio.

Active as the Little League district umpire consultant, Sullivan had three days to enjoy his favorite past-time of umpiring before taking off on another junket to Florida.

Sullivan is one of many familiar Riviera Little League face on hand for another year of baseball.  The list of major managers includes seven of eight repeats, including two past presidents.

The new field was named after Maurice Wilson, manager of the Athletics, the man considered most responsible for completing the two fields on time.  Wilson had previous experience building Little League ball parks at the former Rolling Hills Plaza site.

Two other managers who have quite a following in the league and have become fixtures at Riviera are Tom Roach and Bob Moore who have something like 10 children each.

Ted Henkel has been with the Indians three years and has no children.

Managers Ross Pinto and Bud Hebson served as President of the league before settling for a team.

Marshall Stewart has the Red Sox for a third year and Dick Rossberg of the Orioles is the only major rookie manager.

Riviera, over the years, has attempted to develop its leadership personnel through the minor league program.  A particularly successful training program has been the league’s volunteer umpiring, currently under the direction of Ed Bialecki.

Where most leagues are fortunate to have a staff of six umpires, Riviera has 40.

President Thompson came up through the ranks as a former vice-president, and his wife, Tammy, once served as auxiliary president.

Besides umpiring Rod Freeman is expected to chairman the league’s annual father-son banquet at the conclusion of the season.  Rod’s biggest task is to find a plush eatery large enough to handle 400 people.

Sheryl Freeman keeps up with her husband in Little League as publicity chairman, is a past auxiliary president, and can always be seen working in the concession stand.

Another prominent husband-wife team is Bob Campbell, Player’s Agent, and Marion Campbell, Auxiliary President this year.

When Lil Watson joined the league five years ago, she decided to put her talents to good use by programming musical skits as part of the league’s annual dinner-dances.  This year’s show will be in the Gay 90s theme.

Her constant companion has been Dottie Hurst, and together with Micky Wilson (Mrs. Maurice Wilson), they have written Little League lyrics to more than two dozen standard musical numbers and perform regularly before various league, district and regional activities.

Lil, a former airlines stewardess, has two sons, Jeff, 12; and Kirk, 7.  Mom’s favorite job at the ball park is scorekeeping.

Riviera LL puts out its own weekly newsletter, “Diamond Dust,” and Helen Kostich, last year’s editor, is editing a district publication this season.

The efficiency of women in the league is typified by the year book project headed by Sylvia Rector, Roster Chairman.

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