Ontario Western Little League star of TV commercial; here’s why

This new scoreboard hits a home run with Ontario Western Little League, which got it free after a plea to the Helpful Honda Guys campaign.
This new scoreboard hits a home run with Ontario Western Little League, which got it free after a plea to the Helpful Honda Guys campaign. PHOTO BY DAVID ALLEN

Opening day for Ontario Western Little League was no fizzle, except for the scoreboard, which refused to light up.

A hint of trouble surfaced the previous day, when two hours of effort were required to get the scoreboard at Homer Briggs Park functioning. But that was apparently a last flicker of life, for on opening day March 4, the scoreboard stayed dark.

Sign companies said they couldn’t do anything because the scoreboard, which dates to the late 1990s, was too old. “They couldn’t find the parts,” reported Fawn Soto, the league president. “They couldn’t even figure out what part it was.”

• Video: TV commercial starring an Ontario scoreboard

The league got a quote of $8,000 for a smaller scoreboard, an amount that seemed feasible to raise within a year. After two events, $1,100 had come in.

How did the league operate without a scoreboard? By relying on the human voice.

“We would announce what the score was and what the pitch count was,” Soto told me.

Abner Doubleday would be proud, but still, there’s nothing like a scoreboard to lay out a game’s status.

Then board member Mary Zavala wrote to the Helpful Honda Guys campaign to plead their case. Honda contacted her to say yes.

“She called me, crying,” Soto said. “Then I started crying. I didn’t think it was real. I thought it was just a commercial.”

Honda proposed a scoreboard the size of what the league had, rather than the more modest one it had planned to settle for, and took over the search for a sign company to get the scoreboard done in time for the commercial deadline.

It was all a big secret, of course. A tarp was placed over the old scoreboard in the guise of protecting it. Players and parents were told to report in uniform the morning of April 22 for a surprise.

When the tarp was pulled down, revealing a new scoreboard, 240 young players, not to mention the adults, erupted in excitement. You can see the scene yourself on the commercial, which debuted in mid-May.

The old drab-green board was replaced by one that’s white-on-blue, with the league’s name at the top and (cough) permanent advertising for SoCal Honda Dealers on the bottom. The new one also displays the score for each inning, just like at a Major League game.

The value is $15,000, a price far out of reach of the league.

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“Oh my gosh, it’s so awesome,” Soto said. “It’s all digital. It’s a total upgrade from what we had.”

The $1,100 from the fundraisers, incidentally, was spent on upgrades to the field. The scoreboard might say otherwise, but I’d say everyone’s a winner.

• Luis Fuerte, the cameraman and editor for many years on KCET’s “California’s Gold,” will talk about his work with host Huell Howser at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Pitzer College’s Benson Auditorium, 1050 N. Mills Ave., Claremont. Fuerte recently published a memoir, “Louie, Take a Look at This! My Time with Huell Howser.” Admission is — golly! — free.

“The Tales of Hoffmann,” Offenbach’s operatic adaptation of three stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann, will be performed four times by the Repertory Opera Co.: 2 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and 2 p.m. June 10 and 17 at First Christian Church, 1751 N. Park Ave., Pomona. Admission is $30.

• “Framed,” a juried exhibition of 140 paintings, goes on display from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Chaffey Community Museum of Art, 271 S. Lemon St., Ontario, and will remain on view through July 22. Admission is free. A reception with some of the artists takes place from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

• At Ontario’s Ovitt library, the movie theme in June is “Plots, Plans and Grand Designs.” The movies: “Now You See Me” June 8, “The Accountant” June 15, “Suicide Squad” June 22 and “The Girl on the Train” June 29. Screenings start at 6:30 p.m. at the library, 215 E. C St., and admission is free.

At least three commercials besides Honda’s have been filmed recently in Ontario. Keep an eye out for B and Laurel streets in a commercial for Ford, the Convention Center for AARP, and the airport, Princeton and Columbia streets for Verizon.

David Allen writes Friday, Sunday and Wednesday, commercially. Contact dallen@scng.com or 909-483-9339, go to insidesocal.com/davidallen, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.

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About the Author

David Allen

Reach the author at dallen@scng.com or follow David on Twitter: davidallen909.