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Jerry Sacharski, 93; helped bring T-ball to the masses

Jerry Sacharski instructed 5-year-old Craig LeClair on how to play T-ball. The game helps youngsters develop baseball skills while eliminating the need to hit pitched balls. Jerry Sacharski instructed 5-year-old Craig LeClair on how to play T-ball. The game helps youngsters develop baseball skills while eliminating the need to hit pitched balls. (Frank Passic via Battle Creek Enquirer/File 1958)
Associated Press / March 3, 2009
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ALBION, Mich. - Jerry Sacharski, a retired teacher who helped popularize T-ball as an organized youth sport, has died at the age of 93.

Mr. Sacharski died Friday of natural causes at his home in Albion, about 85 miles from Detroit, the J. Kevin Tidd Funeral Home said.

T-ball helps youngsters develop baseball skills while eliminating one of the sport's most difficult aspects: hitting pitched balls.

They instead hit balls from adjustable tees placed on home plate.

The game's origin is unclear but behind Mr. Sacharski, Albion in 1956 became one of the nation's first communities in which T-ball was played as an organized sport.

Mr. Sacharski was a teacher and coach at Albion Public Schools from 1951 until retiring in 1980. In 2002, US Representative Nick Smith offered a tribute from the House floor.

"After he started teaching, Jerry took it upon himself in 1954 to head up the Albion recreation department's summer baseball program," the Michigan Republican said at the time. "Because of this position, he was able to see the lack of opportunity for younger children that two years later would drive him to develop one of the largest innovations in youth sports."

Mr. Sacharski was born in West Allis, Wis., and served in the Army during World War II, reaching the rank of second lieutenant.

He leaves his wife, Etola; three sons; four grandchildren; a great-grandchild; and a brother.

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