Karen Stotz Myers plopped down on the bench beside the galvanized image of her late father, Carl Stotz, and promptly kissed his cheek.
As the founder of Little League Baseball 75 years ago, the image of Stotz seated and facing Market Square in downtown Williamsport will be there for future generations.
So will the statues of Little League players at each of the four corners of Market and Third streets. With a crowd of community leaders and others looking on, the Bases Loaded project, a tribute to the youth sports organization, was unveiled Friday afternoon.
The “Bases Loaded” project in unveiled Friday at Market Square.
"I think it's wonderful for Little League," Stotz Myers said. "It's all about the kids."
The entire intersection has been transformed in recent weeks into a baseball infield with the 10 life-size bronze statues, which commemorate different decades across Little League's 75 years.
Corners of the intersection each serve as bases of a ball diamond. The northwest corner of the intersection is perhaps the most impressive aspect of Bases Loaded.
Here, a batter is swinging at a phantom pitch with a catcher and umpire in a 1940s/50s vintage uniform both crouched behind the hitter. Stotz, as a team manager, is on a nearby bench holding a baseball.
The catcher, with the letters CS on the ball cap, represents the Charleston, S.C. Little League, an all black team that faced discrimination from all-white teams in the South that refused to play the club in 1955.
Barry Rake, a longtime Little League official and umpire, unveiled the umpire statue.
"I feel like a kid in a candy shop," Rake said. "This is just fabulous."
The three infielders at each of three corners of the intersection represent the first three Little League teams: Lundy Lumber Co., Jumbo Pretzel and Lycoming Dairy.
Three baserunners trace the game's evolution through the years. A girl runner, representative of all girls who have played Little League, is at first base; an Asian player wearing a 50th anniversary logo on his jersey is at second base; and a player representing Little League's Challenger program with a 75th anniversary logo on his jersey is at third base.
Three of the players from Little League's original 1939 team started by Stotz were on hand for the ceremony: Bill Blair, Dave Hinamen and Dick Hauser.
The Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce along with its Lycoming County Visitors Bureau spearheaded the project.
But Chamber of Commerce President Vince Matteo told those gathered for Friday's ceremonies that it was Jason Fink who made it happen.
"This was Jason Fink's vision," he said. "When Jason came up with the idea, I knew he'd hit a home run."
Fink, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the project is representative of Little League's volunteerism and the life lessons the game teaches.
Little League President Steven Keener reminded the crowd that five of the six inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year played Little League Baseball.
He noted that the Susquehanna River, located perhaps a short home run from Market Square, flows from Cooperstown, N.Y., the home of the baseball Hall of Fame and through Williamsport, home to Little League Baseball..
How many players, he asked, can make it to the the Hall of Fame after first playing organized baseball as Little Leaguers.
"That a hard swim," he said.
Bill Nichols Jr., chairman of the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau Operating Committee, noted how Little League has served as an important tourism magnet for the area.
Williamsport Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said the unveiling ceremony was about vision, setting goals, never quitting, diversity, and sustaining dreams.
"Keep your head up and play the game the right way," he said.
Others speaking at the event were state Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township; Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland; and Rich Dill, chairman of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chairman of Commerce.
Statues were underwritten by the following businesses, organizations and individuals: Liberty Group, the Klingerman family, Allison Crane & Rigging, Larry Allison Jr. & family, Lycoming Mall, Lycoming College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Frito Lay, Pepsi, William E. Nichols Sr., M&T Bank, and the law firm of McNerney, Page, Vanderlin & Hall.