The intersection of Market and Third streets in downtown Williamsport, commonly referred to as Market Square, will take on a whole new look come August.
The Lycoming County Visitor's Bureau announced Wednesday that a public works project titled Bases Loaded will be installed to commemorate the 75th year of Little League Baseball. It will transform the intersection into downtown's very own baseball diamond.
"In marking the 75th year, the Lycoming County Visitor's Bureau wanted to mark its top tourist attraction with the development of a project that will also serve as an attraction for those visiting Little League Baseball," said Bryan Hovancik, general manager of Lycoming Mall and volunteer chairman of the project.
Provided by ANTHONY H. VISCO JR. ARCHITECTS
Architect’s rendition of the proposed new streetscape for the city’s Market Square.
Jason Fink, of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, explains how home plate also will feature an umpire in 1940s attire, a batter making contact with a ball to hit a home run and a manager who will be none other than Little League founder Carl Stotz. Stotz’ statue is the only one depicting an actual person and will be featured on a bench for people interested in getting pictures with him.
Artist sketches of the planned bronze statues are set up at the city’s Market Square on Wednesday.
The 75th anniversary logo will be painted in the middle of the intersection, with home plate at the corner of Third and Market where Jersey Shore State Bank stands, and each base situated at a different corner.
The crosswalks of the intersection will become the baselines, with a total of 10 life-
sized statues placed at the corresponding areas: first, second and third basemen and base runners; catcher; batter; umpire; and manager.
The statues have been carefully designed with the rich history of the league in mind, said Jason Fink, executive vice president of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the visitor's bureau.
"Each position player will represent something significant within the history of Little League Baseball," he said.
The basemen will represent the first three teams that made up Little League in 1939, wearing uniforms from the original sponsors - Lycoming Dairy, Jumbo Pretzel and Lundy Lumber.
The base runners each will represent 25 years of Little League history.
The first base runner will be a Hispanic girl, representing both the growth of Little League in Mexico and Latin America and the first girl to play the sport during its first 25 years. Her uniform will have the 25th anniversary logo on the right sleeve.
The second base runner will be an Asian boy, wearing the 50th anniversary logo on his right sleeve, representing the growth of Little League in countries such as Japan and Taiwan during its second 25 years.
At third base, the runner will be an African-American boy wearing arm and leg braces, representing the development of the Challenger Little League program, which enables children with physical or mental challenges to play the game and compete in the Series. His uniform will have the 75th anniversary logo on the right sleeve.
The catcher will be an African-American boy wearing a 1950s-era uniform, with the letters "CS" on his cap and the number 42 on his jersey, representing Jackie Robinson.
He also will represent the 1955 Cannon Street YMCA Little League team from Charleston, S.C., which, at the time, was the only African-American team in South Carolina. Each of the 61 all-white teams in the state refused to play Cannon Street, which led league officials to ban all 61 from competition, making them ineligible to qualify for the World Series.
Unfortunately, it also left the Cannon Street team without enough teams to play, making it ineligible to qualify as well.
League officials invited the team to Williamsport for the World Series anyway, making players official guests of the organization, and the team attended all of the Series games and even bunked in the Lycoming College dorms with the other teams.
The batter, who will wear the 75th anniversary logo on his sleeve, will be swinging away, making contact with the ball for the bases-clearing home run that "every youth and those young at heart dream about," Fink said.
Behind the batter will be an umpire, wearing 1940s-50s era gear, and a manager, the only statue that will depict an actual person: Carl E. Stotz, the founder of Little League Baseball.
Stotz will be seated on a bench, allowing visitors to sit next to him and have their photos taken.
The project will start with painting of the intersection, slated for mid-July, Fink said.
Each of the statues will be underwritten by sponsorships, with five of the 10 already secured. They are due to arrive in the city by Aug. 1 and will be installed and formally unveiled on Aug. 22 during Championship Weekend.
"I think it's a wonderful idea," said Karen Stotz-Myers, Carl's daughter, who was at the announcement. "I had no knowledge of this until last month, when Jason called me, and I was wonderfully surprised.
"Little League is my father's legacy, and this is just another way to recognize it," she said.
Karen's husband, Jim Myers, agreed.
"I remember young kids asking her father in the early days of the league, 'Do you think anyone will come watch us play?' and now there's 40,000 people there on a Friday night during the Series," he said. "It's awesome. It's the definition of 'awesome.' "