Each year, communities around the United States and the world select All-Star Baseball Teams to compete in playoff tournaments leading up to the Little League® World Series. In Carthage in 1966, Manager Vic Utter and Coach Bob Ferguson selected and led the Carthage Little League All-Stars. The team of 10 – 12-year olds included Steve Watts, Robby Ferguson, Mark McGaughey, Sam Utter, Billy Stark, Richard Shipman, Gary Allison, Bill Kester, Kevin Jeffries, Dennis Goettel, Mike Rutherford, Tommy Blanset, Doyle Still, Danny Trogdon, Tim Allan, Richard Campbell, and Roger Howerton. They loved baseball and were proud to represent Carthage.
The Carthage Little League All-Stars of 1966 won the Area Meet in Carthage, the District Event in Joplin, the Sectional Tournament in Crystal City, and then the Divisional Competition in Joplin. With a no-hitter, Carthage’s Little League All-Stars edged out Beaverdale Little League of Des Moines, Iowa for the Divisional Championship, making them 16 State Champions of 1966. The team recorded five shutouts in seven games during these Little League Playoffs.
Earning their way into the Northern Regional Tournament, the team raised donations from local businesses to board a chartered bus for Fairborn, Ohio in August 1966. The squad was escorted around the Carthage Square, in mismatched uniforms, by one of the Carthage Fire Trucks to help them raise additional expense money for the trip. Parents and other hometown supporters made the trek to Regionals to cheer them on. The winner of the Northern Regionals would advance to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
In the single-elimination Northern Regional Tournament, Carthage would take on Kokomo, Indiana, losing just 2 – 1 in extra innings. Carthage then easily defeated Maumee, Ohio in the consolation game. Coming up just two games short of the Little League World Series was heartbreaking for these hardworking boys, but their love for the game remains to this day.
More than 50 years have passed and members of this historic team have gone on to be successful business owners, teachers, mail carriers, fathers, and grandfathers, many of them still residing in their hometown. Robby Ferguson, Mike Rutherford, Billy Stark, and Richard Campbell passed away prior to this recognition.