When the York County Oldtimers Baseball League hits the field on Sept. 13 to begin its 25th anniversary season, someone will be missing.
A large void was left with the March 1 death of league pioneer and commissioner Ken Hersey.
"Ken was the best organizer I ever met," said Brad Hengst, the league's new commissioner. "Ken was an incredible visionary, administrator and organizer. His love of baseball is why we call him 'Mr. York County Baseball.' He will be sorely missed."
Aside from being the league's commissioner, Hersey also performed countless other operational duties for YCOBL.
He was also the treasurer, in charge of field procurement, scheduling games and umpires, stat keeping, picking managers, maintaining the league's website and organizing the yearly registration and drafting of the league's players.
"Ken was always proud of the draft and the fairness that it created for the league," Hengst said.
There were also numerous other tasks that Hersey completed that comprised the day-to-day minutia of running the YCOBL.
That's an incredible amount of work for a team of people, much less one man. But Hersey's dedication to the game was unmatched.
Adding to his 'Mr. Baseball' moniker, the YCOBL wasn't the only recreational league Hersey founded. He also created the Dallastown Cougar youth baseball program.
Hersey was a player in his own right as well, playing for Kennard-Dale High School and spending time with Stewartstown in the Susquehanna League.
He also served as manager for a few teams during his tenure in the game. He was at the helm of Stewartstown from 1979 to 1984 and also held the highest winning percentage among all YCOBL managers.
Hersey first got the idea for the Oldtimers league in 1991 after seeing the enjoyment the retired players in the Central and Susquehanna leagues got from the annual all-star game.
After receiving positive feedback and support for his idea, 78 players comprising six teams took the field that fall for the league's inaugural season. The league has since grown to 16 teams and more than 200 players.
"It's amazing that we still have eight players (Hersey was the ninth) from the original 78 that still play Oldtimers baseball," Hengst said.
The void left by Hersey's passing was so deep that to date, at least eight separate positions have been created within the league to try and fulfill the numerous duties Hersey was able to perform.
Hengst said the league is in the process of planning how it will pay tribute to Hersey. Plans include something on each player's hat and something on the sleeve of each uniform.
The league has also renamed its scholarship fund to "The Ken Hersey Memorial Scholarship Fund." Each year, four scholarships of $500 apiece are awarded to the offspring of league players who submit a written essay.
Hengst also mentioned the possibility of plaques at the league's playing fields which will pay tribute to Hersey.
The YCOBL is open to players age 38 and above. No experience is necessary, but is preferred. Those interested in playing or volunteering can contact Hengst at (717) 825-1926 or email email@example.com.
Perhaps the most fitting tribute of all, however, will be the first pitch of the season.
Local players enjoying the game Hersey loved will serve as the best way to carry on his legacy.
— Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.