Potter Baseball Tour Makes Stop in Clarion with Community Service, a Clinic and Game
(Photo: Potter baseball players Evan Kalinski (second from left) and Noah DiTullio (second from right) present a signed baseball to Leah Chambers (left) and Rich Lane (right) of the Clarion Community Workshop. The Potter Pirates traveling baseball team joined the with Workshop to present a free afternoon of activities for local children Friday. Photo by Chris Rossetti)
The traveling baseball team – the brainchild of Ellwood City native Jeff Potter – took a tour of Clarion University, held a community service activity with the Clarion Community Workshop, put on a baseball clinic with proceeds going to fight juvenile arthritis and played an “old-fashioned” baseball game.
The stop in Clarion was on Day 21 of the month-long trip that will conclude in Virginia Beach, Va., and is the second time the tour has stopped at Clarion’s Paul A. Weaver Park.
“This is Day No. 21, and the baseball playing has been great,” long-time area coach Scott DiTullio of Clarion who is a coach on the tour that also features his son, Noah, said. “It’s been great fundamental baseball, and we have had a blast with the kids.”
While Scott DiTullio has enjoyed the baseball, he has enjoyed the community service aspect of the tour even more.
“The community service has probably been the most special thing I have seen these kids do,” Scott DiTullio said. “For me personally, when we were out in Medina, Ohio, with the Miracle League and working with those kids and their Lions Club, it was just an unbelievable feeling to see those kids, the expression on their faces and the joy baseball brought to them. It was just unbelievable.”
Noah DiTullio agreed wholeheartedly with his dad.
“I have really liked helping out kids with clinics and teaching them more skills that they haven’t developed yet,” Noah DiTullio, who will be a freshman at Clarion High School in the fall, said.
Noah DiTullio said the Plowville, Pa., clinic has been his favorite so far.
“There were a lot of kids at it, and they were so enthusiastic about the game,” Noah DiTullio said.
Watch Noah DiTullio’s full interview.
In Clarion Friday, the Potter Pirates joined with the Clarion Community Learning Workshop, which is a drop-in homework center located in the 800 Center in Clarion, to put on a program that includes crafts, reading and games.
“My son, Max, played in the first Potter game when they came to Clarion about five or six years ago,” Rich Lane of the Workshop said. “So, I knew they did a lot of community service. Scott DiTullio reached out to me and wanted to know if we wanted to do an event. We do events during the year, so we were happy to do it. It worked out well.”
Approximately 10 local children joined the members of the Potter Pirates at the pavilion at Weaver Park for a fun day of activities.
“We did some crafts,” Lane said. “In our events, we always have the kids do a craft. So, they made themselves ball jars and medallions and little plaques they give their parents. They also did some word puzzles. But the core of it is also reading, so we had a reading as well. One of the Potter players read from a Roberto Clemente biography book, and each kid gets a free book as they leave. We also played baseball bingo. All the kids had a good time.”
Watch as Lane receives a signed baseball for the display at the Community Learning Workshop from Potter players Noah DiTullio of Clarion and Evan Kalinksi of Crofton, Md.
According to Jeff Potter, the community-service aspect of the trip is very important to him.
“It’s so important for these kids to see community service,” Potter said. “It’s also important for them to do more than just see it but to take part in it and learn to give back.”
Potter said the communities the tour has been to have welcomed the community-service portion with open arms.
“They have really just been blown away with what we do,” Potter said. “I think sometimes they don’t know what to expect. Just yesterday (Thursday) we were in Oil City, and they are having a big tournament up there and wanted us to work on the fields. They gave us a list of things they needed to be done, and we did so much more. We try to do more than what is expected. We try to raise the bar.”
Community Service wasn’t in the initial plans for the tour, which basically started by accident after Potter wrote a book about the lost art of an old-fashioned baseball traveling event and reached out to 16 communities to see if anyone was interested in a barnstorming event hoping to hear back from just one but instead ended up being invited by all 16.
“In our second year of the tour, we did a volleyball tournament in Butler to benefit a couple of people with cancer,” Potter said. “It was a neat little thing to do, and it stuck with us.”
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