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Traveling Smithsonian exhibit celebrates ‘Hometown Teams’

Baseball, soccer, hockey, bowling, kickball and surfing are among the competitive sports that draw participants from around the country and world. Still more gather on the sidelines to cheer for their favorite athletes and teams. Nowhere do Americans more intimately connect to sports than in their hometowns.

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Madigan Library, in cooperation with the World of Little League Museum, will celebrate that connection as it hosts “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” from June 30 through Sept. 8. An opening reception for the traveling exhibit will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 30, on the first floor of the library.

"Hometown Teams"Madigan Library and the World of Little League Museum were expressly chosen to host “Hometown Teams” as part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program, a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations.

“Hometown Teams” captures the stories that unfold on neighborhood fields and courts: the underdog heroics, larger-than-life legends, fierce rivalries and gut-wrenching defeats. For more than 100 years, sports have reflected the trials and triumphs of the American experience and helped shape the national character. Whether professional, on the collegiate or scholastic level, or played by kids on the local playground, sports are everywhere in America.

“We are excited to be able to bring ‘Hometown Teams’ to our area,” said Janice Ogurcak, director of public programming and outreach for the World of Little League. “It allows us the opportunity to explore this fascinating aspect of our own region’s sports history, and we hope that it will inspire many to become even more involved in the cultural life of our community.”

Adam Thompson, World of Little League Museum curator, worked with the Smithsonian in early 2013 during the development of the traveling exhibit.

“Little League is a great example of how communities rally around hometown teams,” he said. “The creators of the exhibit wanted photos of the crowd during a Little League Baseball World Series – particularly the Keystone Little League team, which drew record-breaking crowds of 42,000 spectators in 2011.”

Additionally, several Lycoming County museums, sports organizations and schools have loaned artifacts for a complementary exhibit of community significance. Among items on display will be NBA player Alize Johnson’s St. John Neumann jersey; a portrait of Larry Kelley (the first Heisman Memorial Trophy recipient); and medals won by the Pennsylvania Special Olympics Team (including a team from Clinton County) in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.

“We are pleased to be working with the World of Little League Museum and the historical organizations of Lycoming County to help develop local exhibitions and public programs to complement the Smithsonian exhibition,” said Tracey Amey, director of the Madigan Library.

Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” is part of a unique collaboration among the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, state humanities councils across the nation and local host institutions. Support for this Museum on Main Street has been provided by the U.S. Congress, Penn College and the World of Little League Museum.

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