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Original League museum brings living look at history

Eleven players from the inaugural season in 1939 are frequently on site to tell stories of baseball past


by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - The leagues first batting champion, Bill Bair, talks with a visitor at the one-room Original League museum on West 4th Street in Williamsport.

WILLIAMSPORT — Take a step into the Original League museum and you are going to get a guided tour whether you asked for one or not. That’s how it works when 11 players from that first baseball season back in 1939 are just a phone call away.

On the morning I arrive, Bill Bair is doing the honors telling the stories behind the exhibits in this one-room shrine — and in some cases the exhibits that are no longer here.

“Cy Young used to come by here and had a chair he would always use,” Bair says, pointing to an empty corner. “Everyone wanted to take a turn sitting in it, and finally it broke.”

Still, the museum has several hard-hitting pieces on display, including the first electronic scoreboard used to score a baseball game.

Bair was the league’s first hitting champ.

“We had some pretty good pitchers. They could hit your bat,” he says. “I had two home runs that year, but we didn’t have a fence until 1942. Those first years, you just hit the ball and ran.”

The fence came in 1942, and the World Series arrived in 1947 and spent a dozen years at the simple complex on the west end of town.

Visitors can run the bases or play catch in the outfield. The field is host the Mac McCloskey tournament each July in honor of the league’s long-time announcer who called those early games.

A press box pays him tribute, highlighted by a scorebook on display that shows a game suspended in the third inning when President Harry Truman announced the Japanese surrender in World War II.

A gift shop near the field sells collectable Original League baseball pins.

The Gresham Nationals were expected to make a stop by the field after their exhibition game Tuesday.




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