Babe Ruth League President/CEO Steven Tellefsen said, "Francis Bland has been involved with our program for over 40 years. He is a very dedicated volunteer and plays a major role in the success the organization enjoys today. It is a proud moment to have a person of his caliber inducted into the Hall of Fame."
In 1951, Francis Bland took the Paragould Youth Baseball Program (which was out of money and had no sponsors) and formed a four team league. By 1953, they had a thriving baseball program. In this same year, Mr. Bland and two other men from the State of Arkansas joined together to charter the first two Arkansas Babe Ruth Leagues. The Paragould Babe Ruth League is one of the oldest 13-15 leagues in the Babe Ruth Program.
Mr. Bland had the foresight to see that baseball would grow Paragould. With the assistance of others, a six-park complex was opened in Paragould in 1974. Francis helped coordinate this great task and took a hands-on role in building the complex. He accomplished this goal with the cooperation of the local Parks and Recreation Department, and obtained grants and private donations, as well as put in his own money. Currently, over 2,000 youngsters play baseball and softball at this complex. The baseball park has been named in his honor - Francis Bland Community Baseball Parks.
Bland's name in Arkansas is synonymous with Babe Ruth Baseball. He has a tremendous love for not only baseball, but for young people. Being a successful businessman, he has always shared his good fortune with others - especially the kids.