ST. GEORGE — Marv’s Diner, a throwback in its own right to a better time, was the locale for the reunion of the 1965 Utah State Little League Champions.
The team hailed from St. George and won the Sunset Little League. After winning a regional tournament in Beaver, the squad was one of four teams to go to the Utah State Finals.
The Regional Championship was against the Cedar City Nationals. St. George won 1-0, the only run coming from a Lester West home run. Pitcher Steve Melessa threw a two-hit shutout.
“That was our toughest game in the postseason,” Melessa said. “Lester’s home run saved us.”
At the State Finals, St. George opened with Rose Crest, a team out of Salt Lake City. Two players, West and Robert McArthur, were listed with no numbers in the program.
“We did not have uniforms,” West said. “We finally got some when we went to state, but before that we played with what we had.”
After eliminating Rose Crest, they met and dispatched another team from Cedar City, Cedar American, in the Final.
Winning the state tournament gave the team an invitation to Nationals. St. George went to a five-state regional in Reno, Nevada. Other states competing were Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.
“It was our first time on an airplane,” Todd May said. “That was the highlight of our whole trip.”
Melessa concurred, “We got to ride a 757 from Cedar to Salt Lake City, then a smaller plane from there to Reno.”
The team stayed for five days in Reno.
“We didn’t get to stay in a hotel,” James Jackson said. “We stayed at the homes of the Reno Little League teams, one or two at each house.”
St. George’s opening match was against the Nevada team out of Sparks. “It seemed like we were playing high schoolers,” Jackson said. “Their whole team was bigger than anyone we had.”
Nobody could remember exactly what the score was, but it was recorded in a remembrance scrap book kept by West. The team was eliminated after the first game, going down 8-4.
“I remember they had a very good pitcher,” Melessa said, “with a very good fastball.”
“I remember giving up three home runs,” Jeff Lundin, who pitched, said.
Unlike today, with pool play and then a playoff format, in 1965 it was win or go home. West recorded his thoughts in his scrapbook at that time.
“We lost to Hawthorn (Sparks) 8-4, but we had a lot of fun. The plane ride was the funnest of all we had. These (teammates) are the best guys you could ever meet.”
Eight of the twelve players were present at the reunion, along with assistant coach Robert Everett.
- Old school hardball: Adult amateur baseball league wraps up spring season
- Fate of baseball field’s name undecided after emotional school board meeting; STGnews Videocast
- American Legion baseball: Bats alive as Clark, Sentinels power past Cedar
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.