June 15, 2011

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Union County Veterans 4th of July Committee and Bucknell University are joining to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the first inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Inaugural members of the Hall of Fame were Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Christy Mathewson, a member of Bucknell's Class of 1902.

"Matty" performance
The celebration includes a performance of "Matty: An Evening with Christy Mathewson," on Thursday, June 23, at 7 p.m. in the Lewisburg High School. Actor Eddie Frierson portrays the 20th century All-American hero in a one-man play.

Tickets for "Matty" are $10 for adults, and $5 for children under 12; children must be accompanied by an adult. Proceeds from the play benefit the Lewisburg Cemetery. Tickets are available in advance at Coldwell Banker Penn One Real Estate and The Mercantile or at the door prior to the performance.

Gate rededication
The Christy Mathewson Gate will be rededicated on Friday, June 24, with a service at 3:30 p.m. in Rooke Chapel at Bucknell. The service will be followed by the placing of a wreath on Christy's grave in the Lewisburg Cemetery. The gate was originally presented by organized baseball in Mathewson's memory in 1928 with a dedication led by Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, national commissioner of baseball, and attended by Mathewson's son, Christy Jr.

Veterans Parade with Hall of Fame descendants
The celebration concludes on Saturday, June 25, with the 17th Annual Union County Veterans 4th of July Parade. In character as Christy Mathewson, Parade Marshall Frierson will be joined by parade guests Cindy Cobb McGowan, the granddaughter of Ty Cobb; Hank Johnson Thomas, the grandson of Walter Johnson; Linda Ruth Tossetti, the granddaughter of Babe Ruth; Leslie Wagner Roberts, the granddaughter of Honus Wagner; and David Roberts, an active member of the U.S. Navy and great-grandson of Honus Wagner.

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the Lewisburg High School and travel down Market Street to South Third Street before ending at the President's Grove at Bucknell for a veterans recognition ceremony at 11:30 a.m. and a picnic and band concert beginning at noon.

Christy Mathewson bio
Mathewson, who was born in Factoryville, served as president of the Bucknell class of 1902. Often regarded as baseball's greatest pitcher, he was a three-sport athlete for Bucknell, playing football, basketball and baseball. His football success helped him earn a contract to play baseball for Norfolk of the Virginia League his junior year.

He left Bucknell in 1899 to begin his professional baseball career, playing with the New York Giants and the Cincinnati Reds; he also served as part-time president of the Boston Braves. He married Jane Stoughton, a native of Lewisburg and a graduate of the Bucknell Female Institute, in 1902. Their son, Christy Jr., who was born in 1906, graduated from Bucknell in 1927. In 1918, Mathewson enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in the Chemical Service with Ty Cobb. He died in 1925 and is buried in the Lewisburg Cemetery, alongside his wife and son.

Freedom Ride
The Union County Veterans 4th of July Committee also is sponsoring a Freedom Ride beginning in Factoryville at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 23. The bicycle ride, which honors veterans, wounded warriors, Paralympic athletes and patriots, will conclude in Lewisburg on Saturday with riders participating in the parade.

Other events include the concert, "If You Knew Sousa" by the Allentown Band, America's oldest continuous concert band since 1828, Friday, June 24, at 7 p.m. in Wolfe Field on North Water Street, followed by a fireworks extravaganza at Wolfe Field on June 24 at 9 p.m., sponsored by RiverWoods; and the "Stars and Stripes Forever" concert by the Penn Central Wind Band, conducted by William Kenny, on Wednesday June 29, at 7:30 p.m. in Hufnagle Park. For more information, visit http://www.unioncountyveterans4thofjuly.com/

Contact: Division of Communications