Little League teams from the league bearing Christy Mathewson’s name were a big part of the parade down College Avenue in Factoryville.
As the people of Factoryville turned out to honor the most famous person ever to come from the town on Saturday, they were also celebrating their own accomplishments.
It was Christy Mathewson Day, a day filled with ceremonies and fun. It is held each year in honor of the Hall of Fame baseball player, who was born 120 years ago in Factoryville and went on to become one of the greatest pitchers ever to play the game.
Actor Eddie Frierson talks with sculptor John Pfeuffer at the statue in Christy Mathewson Park.
Factoryville Mayor Earl Huff welcomes people to the ceremonies at the park.
During ceremonies at the park, officials noted the work that has been done to improve the facilities during the past year. With help from a state grant, residents have added shrubbery, walking paths, an environmental classroom and more to the park that already featured a baseball field, basketball courts and a picnic pavilion.
Liz Ratchford of the Factoryville Shade Tree Commission helped coordinate the effort that she said involved many people.
“I hope he (Mathewson) would be proud of our efforts,” Ratchford said. “I hope we do honor to his memory by the community that we area and by the work that we put into this park.”
“I commend you for all the hard work,” added Mayor Earl Huff, speaking to the crowd gathered in the park.
“We never could have envisioned what we see here today,” said Tony Borgia, president of the Factoryville Men’s Civic Club, one of the groups that organized the day’s festivities. “And we’re not done yet.”
Congressman Don Sherwood announced that the work that has been done in the park will continue, thanks to a $15,000 federal grant to plant more trees.
Actor Eddie Frierson, who portrays Mathewson in a one-man biographical play, noted that it was appropriate that an environmental project was named for the ballplayer because Mathewson originally studied to be a forester.
“Christy Mathewson,” as portrayed by Eddie Frierson, waves to the crowd during the parade down College Avenue.
Factoryville Borough Council member Tom Davis said he believed the reason Mathewson is so fondly remembered a century after he played is not because of his baseball ability but his character.
“How do you endure 100 years later? It’s got to be right here,” Davis said, pointing to his heart. “It’s more about what you do off the field. It’s the kind of person you are.”
A few minutes later, everyone moved to the other side of the park for the unveiling of the statue. It was a reprise of a ceremony held earlier that morning down the street at Keystone.
At the earlier ceremony, Dr. Edward G. Boehm, Keystone’s president, pointed out that Mathewson’s family was always a believer in education, and he was one of the first college-educated baseball players.
“Education is the difference in whatever you want to do in the world,” Boehm said.
The two ceremonies were linked by a parade down College Avenue, from the Keystone campus to the park. It seemed like everyone in town was either in the parade or watching it. Local businesses and groups created floats, one of which had a giant birthday cake for Mathewson. Youngsters from area baseball and softball teams marched. Frierson, in his role as Mathewson, waved from a red convertible. And Boehm and his wife, Regina, threw candy from atop a fire truck.
Runners break from the starting line in the annual “Big 6K” Run through the streets of Factoryville and the Keystone College campus.
The day started with the annual Big 6K Run through the Keystone campus and the streets of Factoryville. The race gets its title from one of Mathewson’s nicknames, “The Big 6.” Kevin Kloss was the first male finisher, while Sara Kenehan was the first woman across the finish line.
Throughout the day, a display of Mathewson memorabilia was exhibited in Keystone’s Gambal Athletic Center. Extra security, including a 24-hour guard, was in place in light of last year’s theft when a uniform and two contracts were stolen.
Close-up of the statue in Christy Mathewson Park.
The exhibit was also open Friday evening, which is when the Mathewson celebration officially began. A capacity crowd filled the college’s theatre for a presentation of Frierson’s play, “Matty: An Evening with Christy Mathewson.” Following the performance, the college and the community presented Frierson with gifts, thanking him for bringing their native son alive.
Factoryville Postmaster Dave Gower, right, presents a Christy Mathewson stamp poster to Little League director Brian McGoff.
In accepting the gifts, Frierson said the warmth that the people of Factoryville extended to him is typical of the spirit that Mathewson embraced.
“Factoryville is the biggest town I know,” he said.
— From The New Age-Examiner, Tunkhannock, Pa., August 16, 2000.