Tonawanda News — In 1965, Bearfield took over as manager on his first-ever majors team. The squad won the city championship that season, a memory that still stands out for Bearfield 48 years later.
“When I got the team in ‘65 I won the city championship. That was my first year with the team,” he said. “That sticks in my mind, right off the bat I got lucky and got a good team and won it all.”
Don Horton, a former TNLL coach and a member of the reunion committee, said that Bearfield is the type of person that every little league needs to survive.
“He was the glue that held the league together. He was a coach, president of the league, worked on the fields and helped with all the fundraisers. He was there for such a long time and he knows so many people who were involved with the league for so many years. A lot of coaches will just stay when their kids are in the league and then not coach anymore. But Bill was beyond that.
“He was there for many years and without kids in the league. Those are the special people in all little leagues. The ones that stay with it even when their kids aren’t in the program — just because they believe in the program. … He is well-respected by everybody that was involved with the National Little League.”
Bearfield said he can’t really pinpoint a single reason the league folded, just that to keep any little league afloat a lot of people have to be involved.
“In 2000, when it disappeared, I think it was because of a lack of help. You need a lot of help,” he said. “In our heyday we had eight major league teams and 18 minor league teams, so you’re looking at about 100 people involved. The population in Tonawanda don’t grow because a lot of people move away. But while we were there we had a good time.”
The TNLL reunion committee is extending a welcome to anybody that is interested in attending the event Saturday night. Tickets are $20 and the reunion is scheduled to run from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.