1959 Hamtramck Little League

Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2017
Connection to Michigan: Hamtramck, Michigan 


The 1959 Hamtramck Little Leaguers – manager Gene Piontkowski and players Sidney Cline, Art “Pinky” Deras, William Heald, Kenneth Jones, Steven Lepkowski, Michael Milewski, Mark Modich, Joseph Piasecki, Gregory Pniewski, James Polick, Matthew Prybysz, Mark Scott, John Zarembski – remains the only Michigan team to ever win the Little League World Series.

In 1953, Hamtramck Little League celebrated its first season. Two years later, a Hamtramck Little League team first qualified for the Little League World Series before being eliminated in the leadup to Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The same occurred the next year. In 1959, however, nothing could stop the 14-player steamroller.

Hamtramck won 13 consecutive games on its way to the 1959 championship, including a record 11 by shutout. Following the second game of the tournament, the team held its opposition scoreless until the next-to-last game, posting nine consecutive shutouts. The ninth shutout was the opening game in Williamsport, with Pinky Deras throwing a one-hitter in a 5-0 victory over San Juan, Puerto Rico. The shutout streak came to an end in the second game in Williamsport, taking on Oahu, Hawaii, but Deras swatted a grand slam and Hamtramck still won easily, 7-1.

Pinky Deras was back on the mound for the championship game, taking on Auburn, California. This time he threw a three-hitter, and Hamtramck cruised to a convincing 12-0 triumph. In all, Deras finished the season with 75 consecutive scoreless innings, hitting 12 homers in the 13 tournament games. His final numbers for the season: 16 shutouts in 18 starts, 10 no-hitters, 298 strikeouts recorded in 108 innings (compared to only 10 walks), plus a .641 batting average, 33 home runs and 112 runs batted in.

A total of about 25,000 combined fans attended the three victories in Pennsylvania, with more than 2,000 welcoming them back to Hamtramck. The team was nationally congratulated: brought to the Lawrence Welk show in Los Angeles, touring Disneyland, and publicly celebrated before a Los Angeles Dodgers game.

Reporter John Beauge, who covered every Little League World Series dating back to 1957, ranked Hamtramck as the fourth-greatest LLWS champion in the history of the tournament in a 2014 article. 

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