Robin and Lance Van Auken

Authors, Historians, and Film Consultants

Robin Van Auken, MA, RPA, is the CEO of Hands-on Heritage. She is an anthropologist and registered professional archaeologist (National 15069). She specializes in working with communities, galvanizing individuals to contribute their memories, photographs, and artifacts to develop legacy projects.  Through in-depth, sensitive interviews, she learns the important stories that connect people through time and space. Robin especially enjoys the challenge of hunting for historic photographs and artifacts that highlight America’s history. As a professional archaeologist, she has directed multi-year public cultural heritage projects, working with hundreds of volunteers and educating thousands of visitors.

Lance Van Auken is a consultant with Hands-on Heritage, contributing research, writing, and project oversight. He oversaw the day-to-day operations of the World of Little League: Peter J. McGovern Museum and Official Store, a 22,000-square-foot museum newly renovated and dedicated to preserving the history of the world’s largest organized youth sports program, and to providing a key educational asset to the children and families of Central Pennsylvania and visitors from around the world.


Lance and Robin attend the Cardinals-Pirates game at Historic Bowman Field for the MLB Little League Classic.

Lance Van Auken

Lance directed the $4.4 million renovations of the World of Little League museum, from architectural and construction aspects to the selection of graphics and artifact mounting. For more than a year, he collaborated with CambridgeSeven Associates of Cambridge, Mass., architect, and designer of the new museum, as well as the media provider, Cortina Productions, and the exhibit fabricator, D&P Inc., to create the world-class museum. The World of Little League museum project remained on schedule and under budget.

As its Executive Director, he lead Little League’s efforts to publicize the new museum through traditional and new media. In his previous role with Little League International, he led the communications efforts and was responsible for a staff of professionals who created all print, Internet, social media and video productions for Little League — emphasizing the education of millions of children in the program, as well as adults. He produced and directed a variety of short films on specific educational topics for Little League, for in-house and worldwide distribution in several languages.

Lance served for 12 years in the U.S. Army Reserve, first as a Military Policeman. Later, as an Army Journalist, he covered U.S. Military operations in Panama and Alaska. His father, unable to join the U.S. Army because of medical problems, joined the British Royal Air Force instead, spending part of World War II helping to defend the United Kingdom. Lance and Robin’s son attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served numerous combat tours as a Paratrooper, Ranger, and Special Forces Operator (Green Beret).

One of many educational projects Lance spearheaded included a publication for volunteers and parents on identifying potential child sex offenders. He worked closely with the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in producing frank information on how to protect children from this type of abuse.

He also served as the chief spokesperson for Little League for more than 15 years. His guest appearances include stints on The Today Show, CNN, Outside the Lines, BBC, Al Jazeera, Nightline, PBS, MSNBC, and other outlets. He has been quoted in hundreds of newspapers and magazines worldwide.

Lance Van Auken and George W. Bush on the South Lawn

Lance Van Auken and George W. Bush on the South Lawn

From 2001 through 2008, Lance was the liaison for Little League International to The White House and President George W. Bush’s Tee Ball on the South Lawn initiative. During that time, 20 Little League Tee Ball games were played at the White House under his direction, with President Bush attending each game.

He served for 17 years on the Little League Rules Committee and is the author of all rules enacted in Little League from 1996 to 2013, including a 13-page rule regarding the first use of video replay at any level of baseball. This rule has been employed successfully at the Little League Baseball World Series for several years.

He led Little League’s involvement in the production of “Mickey,” a film by author John Grisham, directed by Hugh Wilson.

Lance co-authored (with Robin Van Auken) “Play Ball – The Story of Little League Baseball,” chronicling the history of Little League, published by Penn State University Press in 2001. The book was re-released in 2004 as a companion to the PBS documentary, “Small Ball,” which followed a team from Aptos, Calif., from the local level to the Little League Baseball World Series. Now in its second printing, the book was released in 2018 by The Omnibus Publishing.

Prior to Little League, Lance was a professional sports reporter and worked for the Tampa Tribune and the Clearwater Sun, covering various pro, collegiate, and high school sports. His beats included NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball Spring Training, horse racing, and sailing.

Lance attended St. Petersburg College (FL) majoring in communications, and attended and graduated from the U.S. Department of Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.

Robin Van Auken

Robin is a writer and researcher with 35+ years of experience interviewing people and telling stories. Her educational background combines advanced degrees in Communications and Anthropology with a focus on Public and Historical (Military/Industrial Sites) Archaeology.

In addition to her work as a journalist, she is the author and co-author of a dozen books on regional history, including “Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball.”

She is the mother of a former Army Special Forces Operator (Green Beret), the daughter of a Marine Gunnery Sergeant, and sister of both Army and Naval enlistees. She is a frequent visitor of military sites, forts, and battlefields.

She was an adjunct instructor at Lycoming College, where she taught both archaeology and communication. She continues to direct its summer youth program, Lycoming College for Kids & Teens.

She has years of museum experience, working as a curator and educator with both science centers and historical societies. She has directed multi-year archaeological projects, working with hundreds of volunteers and educating thousands of visitors.

In 2015, she added underwater archaeology and PADI scuba training to her toolkit, enabling her to investigate maritime archaeology sites.

She is a long-time member of Northcentral Chapter 8, Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology, having served as a general member, a director, a vice president and president during the past 25 years. Other professional organizations include the Society for Historical Archaeology, Register of Professional Archaeology, and the Nautical Archaeology Society.

Cultural Heritage Specialties: Researching, writing reports, museum curation, cultural consultation, conducting oral histories, videotaping interviews, instructing, organizing public archaeology digs, overseeing field schools, historic and prehistoric site survey.

Communication Specialties: Writing, editing, researching, interviewing, instructing, organizing workshops, developing website content, strategic marketing plans, app development, social media organizational plans, public relations, video production, graphic design, and most activities within general print and digital communications.

Educational Specialties: Experience developing curricula for students of all ages. Confident speaker for groups, small and large. Experience mentoring and advising students, and overseeing independent projects and internships.

Play Ball! is a delightful walk down the storied history of Little League Baseball. For those of us who played the dreams of our youth, it brings back mighty memories. For those of us reluctant adults who still dream, its’a wonderful reminder of what might have been.”

John Grisham

Powered by TranslatePress
Verified by MonsterInsights