Little League still a part of daily life for Granville’s ‘Mr. Baseball’
After 33 years the man many think of when the think of Granville Little League is stepping down.
Ernie Bassett has retired from his role as president.
With granddaughters playing high school sports and a grandson starting T-ball, Bassett said he plans to spend some more time watching them play and less time on the day to day work to keep the little league chugging along.
“It’s been a hard time to give it up. I knew I had to someday it just came to be time,” Bassett said.
“I’ve been the vice or president since 1979 – we’ve had presidents and I broke ‘em all in,” Bassett said.
Even new president Tim Thomas has been readied for the job by this wily old veteran. “I’m helping Timmy he’s been vice (president) picking it up as we went,” he said.
For more than three decades Bassett has either been at the helm of the Little League or second in command after starting quite by accident.
“I went down with Ernie, I took the boys down in ‘77 and never left and now my son Ernie has a team,” Bassett said.
Bassett said he had no idea a trip up to take the kids to little league could mean more than 30 years of involvement in the organization.
“No, it never occurred to me. I walked in as a father and the coach said ‘can you help a bit?’ and I said yes,” he said.
The team’s coach had changed shifts and needed someone to take over the team.
“That’s how I got started in little league,” he said. But something had to keep him coming back and Bassett said without questions it was the kids,
Like so many who give countless hours to volunteering, for Bassett it’s all about the kids.
“I always enjoyed myself down there,” he said. A trip into the supermarket often means running into the players, something Bassett obviously enjoys.
“I’ll go into the Price Chopper and the kids will see me. The girls call me Ernie the boys call me Mr. Bassett; they all get excited when they see me – it makes me feel really good,” he said.
Bassett said he enjoyed meeting people in general and getting to know parents especially those who went on to become coaches just as he had. “The nicest thing is I got to meet a lot of people I might never have known,” he said.
Bassett said he’s also proud of the fact the there are coaches in little league now who played for him on Tatko’s back in the day who now coach their own kids. “They learned a lot from me I believe,” he said.
Asked to reflect on his many years with Little League Bassett said there are simply too many good times and special events to single one out as a top of the list. “If I wrote down things oh my god – I’ve reached out and touched a lot of people, I’ve gotten to know many, many kids over the years …and parents,” he said. Possibly his proudest moment personally came in 2004 when he was honored by the Granville Rotary Club as their Man of the Year.
“They had me over for supper. I went over had supper, accepted the award and went right back to little league,” Bassett said. “That was one of the biggest things for me; I’m very, very proud of that one.”
Like any successful leader Bassett credited those who assisted him by pitching in as one of the secrets to his success, but with 33 years of helpers there are just to many to thank individually. “There have been many, many people who’ve helped me over the years,” he said.
Despite retiring, Bassett said he’ll still have a daily presence at the Richards Memorial Park giving the game balls out each night and pitching in to help.