GLOVERSVILLE - While there may be no joy in Mudville, Gloversville Public Library officials are hoping to inspire some smiles with a baseball-themed community read program.
Gloversville Reads! 2012, the first of what will be an annual program, kicked off Saturday at the Gloversville Public Library's Opening Day event.
Festivities began on the steps of the East Fulton Street library as Patricia Beck, publisher of The Leader-Herald, threw the "opening pitch" to mark the start of the three-month program.
Gloversville Police Officer Erik Peters gets ready to clock a pitch by 14-year-old Gloversville resident Daniel Warner
outside the Gloversville Public Library on Saturday.
The Leader-Herald/Amanda Whistle
Miss Fulton County Colleen Gagne sang the National Anthem and Christine Pesses, dressed in a baseball uniform, gave a dramatic reading of the poem "Casey at the Bat," which is the common read for children.
Throughout the program, the library will host a number of baseball-themed events in conjunction with several other community organizations.
Children are encouraged to read and reflect on Ernest Lawrence Thayer's 1888 poem "Casey at the Bat," which chronicles the strike out of a baseball player who haughtily watches two good pitches go by before deciding to swing.
The community read for adults is W. P. Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe," the novel that was later adapted into the movie "Field of Dreams."
The library has 15 copies catalogued, and may be able to get the book in from other libraries.
On Saturday, the library offered a number of activities for all ages including baseball-related crafts and trivia.
Outside Gloversville Police Officer Erik Peters clocked children's pitches at a radar pitching station.
Seven year old Caleb Pedrick and his cousin, Ciana Trainor, agreed the radar pitching station was their favorite activity and called the whole event "awesome."
"They're really excited about baseball," said Karen Pedrick, Caleb's mother, who was at the event with her three children.
"It was a great chance to get out and do something," Pedrick said. "During 'Casey at the Bat' they were all sitting there listening, so interested."
Library Director Barbara Madonna said the baseball theme was chosen to appeal to a variety of interests and complement the beginning of the Fulton County Baseball & Sports Hall of Fame. She said she heard enrollment in Little League was also up this year, indicating an interest in the theme for the area's youth.
In addition, the Glove City Softball League formed this year.
"It just seemed to come together," Madonna said, also noting the area's "rich history of baseball in our community," which also incorporates the leather trade.
A number of events scheduled throughout the next three months including book discussions of "Shoeless Joe," a talk about "Casey at the Bat" by State University of New York at Albany professor Rob Edelman, and trips to the Tri-Valley Cats in Troy and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and a baseball-themed Gloversville Civic Band concert.
A number of movies will also be screened at the Gloversville Senior Center. Visit www.gloversvillelibrary.org for a complete list.
The program wraps up with a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on July 26. Reservations are required by July 12 for the bus trip. The cost is $40 per adult and $25 for children age 18 and under.
Children can be entered into a drawing to win free admission and transportation to Cooperstown by obtaining a scorecard from the library and having it marked each time they attend a Gloversville Reads! event.
Children also can be entered into a raffle and win prizes by participating in a Reading All-Star program in which they go on "quests" like visiting the Fulton County Museum or writing a poem or riddle about baseball.
Madonna noted several community partners are helping with the read including, Gloversville Enlarged School District, Gloversville HeadStart, Friends of the Gloversville Public Library, Gloversville Police Department, Gloversville Little League, Gloversville Civic Band, Senior Center of Gloversville & Fulton County, Fulton County Historical Society and Museum, NYSCA & Mohawk Valley Library System, and Finnegan's Sports Cards.
Amanda Whistle covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org