Pottstown native Robert "Bobby" Clayton Shantz will receive an early birthday present that his hometown has worked hard to provide this Saturday.As a result of countless fundraising efforts, the Pottstown High School baseball field will be named after Shantz, a former Major League pitcher.
On Saturday, Sept. 22 at noon, Shantz will visit his alma mater for the dedication. He'll sign autographs, and the U.S. Postal Service will stamp postcard-sized baseball cards, increasing the value of the signed souvenirs.
A few members of the Pottstown High School baseball team will participate in a batting exhibition during the Sept. 22 dedication, weather permitting.
The Pottstown Middle School Jazz Band will perform at the event with a special rendition of "Take Me Out To the Ball Game."
The whole project began when one of Shantz's former classmates, Gabe Feeney, approached Pottstown Borough
Council about naming a street after the baseball player.
"When that didn't work, Feeney suggested naming the field after [Shantz]," said John Armato, the school district's director of community relations.
With support from Harleysville National Bank and a grant secured by state Sen. John Rafferty, the project began.
Over 400 community members purchased bricks for a new backstop. Organizers have decided to sell 200 more bricks for two additional panels.
Shantz, who notched 119 career wins, helped lead the New York Yankees to World Series title in 1958.
His best season came in 1952, when he led the American League in wins (24) and won the Most Valuable Player Award.
The diminutive lefthander played in the All-Star games in 1951, 1952 and 1957.
During the 1952 All-Star game, Shantz struck out Whitey Lockman, Stan Musial and Jackie Robinson in the same inning.
Relying on a distinctive sidearm delivery, the 5-foot-6 hurler earned eight consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1957 to 1964.
Shantz was selected in the 1961 MLB Expansion Draft by the Colt. 45s from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He played for the following teams throughout a 16-year big-league career: the Philadelphia Athletics from 1949 to '54; the Kansas City Athletics from 1955 to '56; the New York Yankees from 1957 to '60; the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1961; the Houston Colt. 45's in 1962; the St. Louis Cardinals from 1962 to '64; the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies in 1964.