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Longtime Sammamish resident, Little League stalwart named to board | Community sports feature

Bob Toigo stands near a baseball diamond at East Sammamish Park - Josh Suman, Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter
Bob Toigo stands near a baseball diamond at East Sammamish Park
— image credit: Josh Suman, Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter

John Chadwick is anything but new to Little League baseball and softball.

The District 9 administrator for more than three decades, and the head of the annual Junior Softball World Series in Kirkland, Chadwick is one of the foremost authorities on the organization's local presence.

He is also one of a select few who predate Bob Toigo.

"He was sort of my protege," Chadwick said. "He has done an excellent job of carrying on the district's reputation."

Toigo's next job is taking his decades of experience in District 9 to Williamsport, Pa., as part of the Board of Directors of Little League International, an appointment 44 years in the making.

"It's an honor, and I'm humbled," Toigo said of the chance to serve on the board. "It is an honor to say my peers feel enough about me to elect me to that position."

After getting his start in Little League baseball in California when his nephew began taking an interest in the game during the 1960s, Toigo eventually settled near Lake Sammamish with his wife of 51 years, Vicki, and had two sons of his own to bring up in the game.

Bob Jr. and Dan traveled into Redmond for to play baseball and attend school, and Toigo began his own service in Redmond when it was still a one-league town. That is when Toigo said he began his dedication to the organization in earnest, and when he first met Chadwick.

"Bob is a very good people-person," Chadwick said. "He is just consistent, and everyone knows it."

Toigo has served as District 9 administrator for the past seven years, and has also been part of an advisory board that meets in Williamsport to make recommendations on regulations, rules changes and other policies.

But the most important thing for Toigo has never been pushing paperwork.

"People have to remember Little League is not a baseball program," he said. "We are teaching life-lessons, and using baseball as a vehicle."

That philosophy, while at times muddled by a select few overzealous parents or coaches, is a personal one for Toigo, and not negotiable on any front.

Despite his decades of service to an organization formed around a baseball diamond, Toigo said he had only a brief stint as a player during his youth in Chicago. No standards existed in the early 1950s for playing time in Little League, and Toigo knew before he hit his teens he likely had no future on the diamond.

But thanks to his manager, the years he spent in Little League were valuable nonetheless.

"I had a great manager who made sure we had a good time," he said. "He didn't care if we won or lost, and after the game all he said is, 'One scoop, or two?'"

Toigo acknowledges even youth sports have become susceptible to the ultra-competitive ethos that dominates athletics at all levels. But he has never forgotten the impact baseball had on his life, even though he was anything but the most talented player on his team.

"Baseball will always be that common ground," he said.

 

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