More than 2,000 Little League pins are on display at the Keizer Heritage Museum through June 30.
Harry Pease got hooked on the hobby when he was picked to umpire the Major/Senior Softball World Series in Kalamazoo, Mich., more than 20 years ago. His daughter Trina was a softball player, which drew him into the world of Little League. At the Kalamazoo tournament Pease bought about 100 pins, trading them when he got back to Oregon.
Leagues and teams started issuing pins long ago, but the 1980s saw interest pick up in unique pins for states, local districts and leagues, and individual teams. Some collectors even have their own pins made.
“It was nice to have something unique and different” for each area, Pease remarked.
The display at the Keizer Heritage Museum represents just a fraction of his 13,000-plus pins, organized by region, states, districts and leagues.
Pins can be created for individual teams, local leagues or tournaments. And if a Google search is any indication collectors take the hobby seriously.
Pease started corresponding with Michigan collectors and took up reading Sunshine Pins, a publication dedicated to the pin trading community. He volunteered – and got plenty more pins – when the Little League Softball World Series came to Alpenrose dairy in 1994.
Just in 2009 and 2010, Pease estimates he traded about 2,000 pins in tournaments and events in Lexington, Ky., San Bernadino, Calif. and at the Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsburg, Pa.
“It really is astonishing,” said Sue Milletta, who’s the museum’s co-chair.
Pease’s custom-made pins include the “Pease Pod” – peas in a pod. Another is of the recreational vehicle he used to travel to Little League events around the country. Still another is of an umpire bending over to sweep off home plate, a split running down the seat of his pants. All in all, with different color schemes he estimates he’s had 25 or so custom pins made.
“People who are serious about trading them make their own,” Pease said.
He’s what you might call a general pin collector; that is, he’ll trade to get anything he doesn’t already have. But not every trader operates that way.
“I met a lady from Alaska who only collected them if they said ‘baseball’ on them,” Pease said. “If they said ‘softball’ she threw it out.”
The furthest flung pins he owns are from Saudi Arabia and the Philippines. But even at some 13,000 well-organized and catalogued pins, he notes his collection likely isn’t even the biggest in town.
One fellow “probably has more stashed in containers that he’s never looked at than I have,” Pease said.
The museum is housed inside the Keizer Heritage Center at 980 Chemawa Road NE. Hours are 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturdays.