After an interminable wait, it's time to 'Play ball!' again
Following a pandemic hiatus that seemed to last longer than its comparably brief span, Penn College excitedly welcomed visitors Monday to a campus picnic: the leadoff to the diamond anniversary of the Little League Baseball® World Series (Aug. 17-28). For the 16th time, and the first since 2019, the college hosted a picnic for players, coaches, team hosts and umpires in the middle of campus; students and employees, including new President Michael J. Reed, also participated in an evening Grand Slam Parade into downtown Williamsport. Both events featured a special visit from Mariano "Sandman" Rivera – a record-setting New York Yankees relief pitcher who retired in 2013 – and a crowd-pleasing appearance by a series team representing The Keystone State (from Blair County's Hollidaysburg Little League).
– Photos by Frank T. Kocsis III, student photographer, with an assist from Tom Speicher, writer/video producer
Great Lakes has a good time with the Wildcat.
Metro and Midwest do some pin-trading.
... it never hurts to add some Wildcat power as insurance.
Tyler McGough, a Mid-Atlantic pitcher and shortstop, strikes a pose worthy of an MLB trading card.
A warm hug from a cool 'cat
An Australian ballplayer adds a pin to the uniform of Penn College Police Officer Jeffrey E. Kriner.
The 4,735-mile distance between Honolulu and Hollidaysburg, Pa., is shortened to a mere ball toss between the two teams.
Opponents in Wednesday's opening game – representing Latin America and the Caribbean – pose with student volunteers: Madison M. Shaffer (left), Trout Run, applied management, and Alyssa Rusnock, Ovid, N.Y., emergency management & homeland security.
Mid-Atlantic team escort Jason Wiedl, a construction management student from West Pittston, makes the most of his assignment during a picnic interlude.
Asia-Pacific families support their team just beyond the security fence, and send affectionate "finger hearts" to a PCToday photographer.
A cadre of umpires – joined by Eryn L. Nichols, a business administration student from Rome – cherishes the pre-series diversion.
The day's toss-up question: Who wants to play cornhole?
Little Leaguers surround Rivera on a campus stroll.
Cementing a time-honored partnership between Little League and Penn College, Dugout and the Wildcat convene a meeting of the mascots.
Rivera channels his love of the game with this year's series contestants, 20 teams who defied the odds to land in the final tournament bracket. Born in Panama City, Rivera made a pitch for inclusiveness by conveying a portion of his remarks in Spanish.
The renowned late-game reliever "closes" on an autograph, as Wildcat baseball coach Chris Howard waits to accompany him to his next meet-and-greet.
Curacao leaves the picnic grounds, outside the PDC, to line up for the parade into downtown Williamsport.
Dugout poses with a local favorite, the 22nd Pennsylvania team to reach the series in its 75-year history.
Making their allegiance known, Kadin M. Virkaitis (left), of Brentwood, N.H., and Thomas Panyik, of Columbia, spell it out in blue and white. Virkaitis is enrolled in aviation maintenance technology, while Panyik is pursuing a degree in welding & fabrication engineering technology.
Marshall W. Fowler, a member of the college's phenomenally successful Baja SAE team, takes the wheel down West Fourth Street. Fowler, of Sellersville, is seeking a degree in engineering design technology.
... trying their hand at hitting a spectator's target for pins and candy.
Kellor A. Schooley (foreground), an applied management student from Turbotville, is among the Penn College volunteers ...
In his second month as president, Reed takes great strides to enhance the college's long-standing presence in the community.
The college's float kindles the flame of lifelong learning, fueled by the spark of curiosity. Its theme showcased the majors and opportunities that ignite passionate Penn College tomorrow makers, inspiring them to chart their own course in and outside of the classroom.
Eager hands greet the college entourage as it passes, distributing pins and Twix bars.
We'll take that as a "Yes!!!" Alyssa L. Fink, from a family with multiple Penn College connections, raises a thumb for each of her two 2017 business administration degrees. Her, mother, Deanna L. (in Penn State shirt), is a Dining Services worker in Dauphin Hall; father Mark A. earned an HVAC technology degree in May 2019; and siblings are carrying on the Wildcat tradition.
Happiness, from ear to ear, and a friendly wave for good measure
Reed & Co. present a unified voice, all along the 1½-mile path. Samir K. Pringle, a business management student from Philadelphia, rides the float with Massey; Reed is accompanied on foot by Brandon M. Malchano, of McKees Rocks, a Phi Mu Delta member studying building science & sustainable design: architectural technology concentration.
Human services & restorative justice students Jorden K. Graham (left) and Sydney M. Telesky, of Milton, who also serves as Student Government Association president for 2022-23, show their Penn College Pride alongside the parade float.
Ashlee E. Massey (left) and Krystle J. Richardson, both pursuing degrees in human services & restorative justice, take their message to the streets.
... a sentiment that definitely wasn't a one-off.
A youngster makes a point about another street-side challenge.
A parade-goer delivers a congratulatory message, person to person ...
Creativity reigns at this collector's corner.
Veteran series play-by-play announcer Gary Chrisman (center) works the parade broadcast with WBRE/WYOU co-anchors Sean Coffey and Kelly Byrne.
Schooley leads the crowd in chants of "Let's go, Wildcats!" and "When I say 'Penn,' you say 'College!'"
Penn College was among the parade's division sponsors.
The coming days will bring laser-like focus on the ballfield action. But, for now, Midwest players are more interested in a praying mantis!
Athletes from Willemstad, Curacao – the Caribbean entry – move through the food line, where dogs, burgers, and mac 'n' cheese are (as ever) popular fare.
Reed and Little Leaguers from Chinese Taipei affirm the fist bump's global reach.
Representing the Great Lakes region, players from Hagerstown, Ind., wear a mix of satisfied smiles and strategic "game faces."
A Guaynabo "hello" from the Wildcat to campus guests from Puerto Rico
And, as the Metro squad from Massapequa, N.Y., confirms, there's always room for a chocolate chip cookie.
Exhibiting etiquette apropos of Le Jeune Chef Restaurant, the Latin American team (from Managua, Nicaragua) observes "caps off at the table" manners.
The president welcomes Rivera in the Thompson Professional Development Center, explaining the tradition of Little League pins before giving a 2022 Penn College keepsake to the Hall of Famer ...
Although the entrants from Brisbane, Australia, bring along a good-luck charm of their own ...
Keeping their reflexes sharp and their sense of humor intact, Puerto Rican players shadow-box with the Penn College Wildcat.
Dear friends – Dugout (Little League's Disney-created mascot) and Hillary E. Hofstrom, the college's vice president for people and culture – enjoy a reunion outside The Victorian House.
... and introduces him to players and coaches gathered under the picnic tent.
Before joining the parade lineup as the event's Grand Marshal, Rivera engages the team from Australia.
Former major-leaguer Tom O'Malley, a Montoursville native, signs autographs for players from Takarazuka, Japan. O’Malley was the regular season MVP in Japan in 1995 and the Japan Series MVP that year as his team, the Yakult Swallows, won the championship.
Still full of goodwill, empty bucket notwithstanding, Reed nears parade's end.
Prior to the picnic, Public Relations & Marketing's Tom Speicher and Tina M. Miller brief student and employee volunteers on the day's priorities: greeting the teams as they alight from shuttle buses, interactively making them feel welcome during dinner, providing each with a box of Penn College pins to commemorate their visit, allowing players to autograph their T-shirts and, of course, having fun. (Photo by Tom Wilson, writer/editor-PCToday)