FACTORYVILLE — Although the rain came down hard Saturday morning, runners still showed up for the outdoor fun run and the “Big 6” race, which kicked off Christy Mathewson Day. First was the fun run, in which kids braved the rain in a short race and where 8-year-old Averie Higgins, of Factoryville, came in second place.
The 23rd annual Christy Mathewson Day, which celebrates the life of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame legend and Factoryville native, was held Aug. 11 at Keystone College.
“This was her first race,” said Avery’s mother Korrie. “We just moved here from Utica, New York. Her dad’s a new football coach of Keystone College.”
This was also the first time for 6-year-old Scranton resident Gavin Price, who came in third.
“It was his first fun run,” said his grandfather Tom Price. “He (Gavin) was excited to do it.”
The top three runners received trophies but all of them were given ribbons, frisbees and gift certificates for Wendy’s Frosties.
Then, the adults ran the “Big 6” in the heavy rain starting on College Avenue. They ran through the town of Factoryville to the Little League field to Riverside Drive to the Trolley Trail to the sports complex and back to College Avenue. As family members and friends who showed support tried to stay dry under their umbrellas, the runners became drenched with the heavy downpour.
Traci Brundage, who was recently named president of Keystone College, mediated her first “Big 6” race.
“I think it’s a great tradition for Factoryville and Keystone College,” she said.
Mike Selig, who just moved to Clarks Summit from Buffalo, NY, was the first male finisher while his wife Jennifer Borner became the first female finisher. Selig was hired by Keystone College the night before and this was the third “Big 6” race for both him and his wife.
“It’s a nice, little race,” said Selig. “Wet. Very wet.
The runners dried off by going inside the college’s Hibbard Campus Center for a free breakfast. There were also raffle baskets and drop off baskets for the Giants’ Pantry donations collected by the Factoryville Women’s Civic League.
Inside the Theatre in Brooks, a display of Christy Mathewson memorabilia, including old photos, baseball cards, uniforms, and newspaper articles about his career highlights were organized by Factoryville residents Anna Wrobel and Joy Yunko, who wore New York Giants baseball shirts.
In the auditorium of that theatre, there were two shows. One was a play called “It’s a Hit” performed by the children of Creative and Performing Arts Academy in Scranton. Kids played baseball players getting ready for a big game. Eight-year-old Tyler Santarsiero, of Scranton, played a game announcer who introduced some of the players. Ten-year-old Lydia Zwanch, of Eynon, played a baseball player who befriended a girl (played by 10-year-old Taylor Mercereau, of Greentown), who wanted to be a pitcher but was ridiculed for being a girl.
“It’s amazing,” Zwanch said about being in this play. “I come from a big baseball family.”
The play was a team effort by music director Melissa Lingle, choreographer Christine Sohns-Williams, theater director Mandy Bruno, and founder of CaPAA Sherri Melcher. This is CaPAA’s first performance for Christy Mathewson Day.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Lingle. “We are completely honored to be here.”
The kids practiced the play for two weeks and performed as the opening act to Eddie Frierson’s portrayal of Christy Mathewson in a one-man show called “Matty: An Evening with Christy Mathewson.” Frierson gave a lively performance of the local legend, going off stage to interact with the audience while playing the New York Giants’ manager.
Frierson’s first trip to Factoryville was in 1984. His first version of the play was in 1987 and, in 1995, he updated the play to its current state.
“I spent from ‘84 to ‘95 developing it to what I felt was good theater and not just (for) baseball people,” he said. “That was important to me.”
Frierson spanned the show to Los Angeles from 1995 to 1996; then, he took it to the Lambs Theater in New York City.
Frierson first learned about Christy Mathewson when his father gave him a book to read on the plane on his way to a family reunion in Florida. The book was called “Pitchin’ in a Pinch” and was written by the “Big 6” himself. When he came back to his hometown of Nashville, TN, Frierson drove to Factoryville and learned more about Mathewson. He enjoyed the friendly people of Factoryville and saw them as an extended family.
“If I have never, ever done one word (onstage), just coming here was all worth it,” he said.
The play was sponsored by the Factoryville Men’s Civic League. The audience enjoyed an ice cream social after the play. The rest of the events of the day, including the parade and festivities at Joint Municipal Park were canceled due to the weather. But people were able to enjoy barbecued chicken from the Factoryville Borough Hall and take it to the Factoryville United Methodist Church, where there was also a pie auction.
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