April 7, 2015 marked the 10th Anniversary of Steven Tellefsen’s reign as President/CEO of Babe Ruth League, Inc. He succeeded the late Ronald Tellefsen, who served as President/CEO for 25 years until his passing on March 5, 2005.
Tellefsen’s career with Babe Ruth League, Inc. began in 2000 when he was hired as National Commissioner. As Commissioner, he successfully administered the New England, Southeast, Southwest and Midwest Plains regions earning the respect of the multitude of volunteer field commissioners under his domain.
As a youth, Steven Tellefsen played Babe Ruth in Hamilton Township, New Jersey for the Whitehorse Fire Company in centerfield. He was a Mickey Mantle fan. Born in New York, his family moved to Hamilton Township when he was in the first grade. “I remember my dad took me to see Mickey, but it was late in his career, and he was hurt. I did see him walking around, though. I’ll never forget it,” said Tellefsen.
On the former President/CEO, Ron Tellefsen, his father, Steven had this to say, “I’m carrying on his legacy, and that’s why we are so successful. When he took over in 1980, there were 350,000 kids involved in the program. Now we’re at over a million. I couldn’t be prouder to following in his footsteps.” He added, “I miss going to my dad’s house on the weekends, sitting with him while he smoked a cigar, talking about Babe Ruth. He lived and breathed Babe Ruth League. I miss him dearly. Life took him a little earlier, but there was no better ambassador than Ron Tellefsen for the youth game.”
And to this day, Steven Tellefsen has done an excellent job carrying on his father’s legacy, as well as achieving many new milestones for the Babe Ruth program. His innovations are changing the way the game is played, and his dedication goes beyond his leadership role. During the past decade, Tellefsen has introduced many enhancements that provide a fun, educational and competitive environment while addressing the safety and well-being of the children who participate under the Babe Ruth banner.
Listed below are some of the hits and highlights accomplished during Steven Tellefsen’s 10 years as President/CEO of Babe Ruth League:
- Establishment of the new Cal Ripken Major/70 Division, which uses a 50’ pitching distance and 70’ base paths. Babe Ruth League was the first youth baseball/softball program to introduce these alternative field dimensions for the 12-year-old player, allowing them to take their game to the next level and making it an easier jump for them to the 60-90 field.
- Recognizing the strategic role that technology plays in the success of our business and in the success of administering a local league, the Data Center and Babe Ruth Online were introduced. Leagues are now able to charter and insure their programs online via the Data Center. Babe Ruth Online is a custom software package designed specifically for Babe Ruth leagues and offers a turn-key solution for leagues to manage, support and market their organization. The main tools include websites, roster management, online registration, ID Cards, statistics, schedules, events, news, document storage, photo albums and much more.
- Babe Ruth League and Ripken Baseball teamed up with the American Sports Education Program (ASEP) to offer Coaching Education and Certification. In order to raise the bar for youth sports, Babe Ruth League requires all coaches and managers to complete coaching education. There is no single action that can have a more positive impact on our players than to improve the quality and knowledge of our managers and coaches. It is a known fact that the managers and coaches are the individuals who are in the position to make a child’s experience in youth sports fun and memorable. Volunteer coaches are the lifeblood of youth baseball, and they have an obligation to their players to provide them with the best possible instruction and leadership of which they are capable.
- In order to ensure the safety, protection and well-being of its young participants, nationwide background checks on all managers, coaches, board members, as well as any other persons and volunteers, who provide regular service to the league, and/or have repetitive access to, or contact with, players or teams was mandated. The nationwide search must contain the applicable government sex offender registry data. Babe Ruth League teamed up with First Advantage, an online volunteer screening service designed for the nonprofit industry, to assist leagues in complying with this mandate.
- Babe Ruth League joined forces with Major League Baseball to reach out to urban and inner-city areas to provide and encourage participation in the games of baseball and softball to disadvantaged families. As part of this initiative, Babe Ruth League waives registration fees, as well as provides urban programs with complimentary coaching education, free rulebooks, shoulder emblems and other administrative supplies.
- Established Softball Xtreme Fastpitch, a high performance softball division. By adding Xtreme Fastpitch as a division of Babe Ruth Softball, there is now a place for everyone – for those on a recreational level to those who seek a higher degree of competition to hone their skills with the goal of continuing play into high school and beyond.
- Established the Babe Ruth League Alumni Association. The purpose of the Alumni Association is to advance the general welfare and support the needs and mission of Babe Ruth League, Inc. and the youth the program serves. The Alumni Association also provides a unique way to stay connected to the Babe Ruth program far beyond the years an individual spends as a player and/or volunteer.
- Increased international participation at the Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series from six teams to eight to generate a more competitive atmosphere and greater excitement for the athletes who earn the opportunity to participate in the World Series in Aberdeen, Maryland. New Zealand and Puerto Rico have joined Australia, Canada, Dominican Republican, Japan, Mexico and the Republic of Korea to make up the international division. They are joined by 10 of the best teams from across the country, including the eight regional champions, the Maryland state champion and a host team.
- Babe Ruth Softball Debuts New World Series. Beginning in 2015, three additional Softball invitational World Series are now being offered in the 8U, 10U and 14U divisions.
- New Home for Babe Ruth Headquarters. Due to the expansion of the Babe Ruth program, the organization has outgrown its present location in Trenton, New Jersey, where it has been headquartered since the 1970’s. Through the leadership efforts of Steven Tellefsen, with assistance from the Alumni Association’s Capital Building Fund (supported by Babe Ruth Alumni and volunteers), Babe Ruth Headquarters will be moving to a new Headquarters, more than double the size of its current office, before the end of the 2015 season.
Steven Tellefsen has already made some great contributions to youth baseball and softball and has played a major role in making the Babe Ruth League experience a true celebration for each participant.
“For me, serving as President/CEO of Babe Ruth League, Inc. is a dream realized,” commented Tellefsen. “I only wish my father were here to share this moment with me. I look forward to working with each member of our Babe Ruth family in accomplishing many more prospects for the future.”
On Babe Ruth League’s success. “The reason we’re so successful is because of our dedicated volunteer network. Without them, there wouldn’t be a Babe Ruth League program,” said Tellefsen. “Youth baseball and softball are ideal avenues by which to teach the game of life. Our volunteers give unselfishly of their time and resources to help us guide and mold young athletes into strong, happy and productive adults.”
On why baseball and softball persist as “America’s games.” “They are passed down, generation to generation, and that’s how the love of the game grows. It starts out with a game of catch in the yard and just grows from there.”