Latin America

Joe Patterson and Plinio Castillo-Ruiz Honored with Peter J. McGovern Distinguished Service Award

Congress Service Awards Lead

For the first time in the history of the award, two District Administrators have been named as recipients of the Peter J. McGovern Distinguished Service Award as Joe Patterson (Texas District 31) and Plinio Castillo-Ruiz (Panama District 1) were recognized for their service during the 28th Little League International Congress in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Presented at the Little League International Congress since 1958, the Peter J. McGovern Distinguished Service Award recognizes the special efforts of an individual who has embraced the ideals of Little League and, in turn, exemplifies the benefits of children learning life lessons through playing Little League Baseball and Softball.

“While this award is traditionally presented to only one volunteer at our Congress event, each of these two individuals are well-deserving of this recognition and we are pleased to present both of them with this honor, here in the birthplace of Little League,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “As a token of our appreciation from our entire staff at Little League International, and on behalf of the millions of children our District Administrators serve each year, we are pleased to present this award to Joe and Plinio and are thankful for their dedication, commitment, and support of the Little League program throughout their district.”

Joe Patterson (Texas District 31)

Joe Patterson with Hugh E. Tanner

Currently serving as the Texas State Coordinator, in addition to his role as the Texas District 31 Administrator, Joe Patterson has been a Little League volunteer for more than 36 years and prides himself in carrying out the mission of Little League Baseball and Softball. During his tenure as a Little League volunteer, Mr. Patterson served as a Field Director on the Little League International Board of Directors from 2012-16 and helped guide the direction of the program to where it is today. Mr. Patterson first got involved with the Little League program as a coach for his son’s team nearly four decades ago and has been a dedicated volunteer ever since.

Plinio Castillo-Ruiz (Panama District 1)

Serving as the Country Director for Panama, Plinio Castillo-Ruiz has led the organization and supervision of the 8- to 10-year-old division, Major division, Junior division, and Senior division country tournaments throughout Panama each year. Through his leadership, Panama has since become the country with the second most teams throughout the Latin America Region with a steady increase in teams over the past five years. This year also marks the first year that Panama will received direct entry to the Little League Baseball World Series as part of the event’s expansion, with Aguadulce Cabezera Little League representing the country in this year’s tournament. Over the years, Panama has been engrained in the history of the Little League program, even outside of the World Series. In 1950, the first leagues outside the United States were formed on either side of the Panama Canal with the Pacific and Atlantic Little Leagues of Balboa.

Former Peter J. McGovern Distinguished Service Award Recipients
  • 1958 – Arnold White
  • 1960 – Perry Winstead
  • 1961 – Harris Plaisted
  • 1963 – Nick Aromandi
  • 1965 – Joe Eckert
  • 1967 – Art Mikelsen
  • 1969 – Bill Robertson
  • 1971 – Faith Colombo
  • 1973 – Pat Knight
  • 1975 – Ellen & Luckey Porterfield
  • 1978 – Y. Hada
  • 1981 – H. Taylor Bell
  • 1984 – James Whittington
  • 1987 – Milton F. Ziehn
  • 1989 – Reuben B. Hill
  • 1992 – George Berardi
  • 1995 – Fred Taylor
  • 1998 – Richard Buckelew
  • 2001 – Joe Shea
  • 2004 – Jake Hardison
  • 2007 – Tony Richardson
  • 2010 – Paul Flanagan
  • 2014 – Maryellen Holden

To learn more about the Little League International Congress, visit

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