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Annual Potter Game comes to Clearfield
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
By Andy Stine Sports Writer
It happens often that young baseball players forget that winning isn't everything. On Tuesday evening at the Lawrence Township Recreational Park, the Clearfield Wise Eyes 15- and 16-year-old Teener League team reflected on what is more important while playing baseball - having fun and playing the game the right way.
The Potter Baseball Tour, which began in 2010, made its annual stop in Clearfield on Tuesday. Jeff Potter, the founder of the tour, credits Clearfield longtime head baseball coach Sid Lansberry for the yearly stop in the town.
And it all started after Lansberry read ‘Whatever Happened To Baseball?,' which was written by Potter.
"I had talked to several people who said they really liked the book," said Potter. "I always had this idea of barnstorming and going around and playing baseball. I went to a few different communities and said, ‘I want to come to your town for a day to have fun and play some baseball.' A lot of people said yes, so I thought ‘I have to put something together.'
"Sid read my book and he sent me probably the nicest letter I have ever received in my life. He sent me a handwritten letter about the book. He loved the book and what it said. He loved the message of the book and getting back to the way baseball should be."
While the Potter Tour may sound like a typical travel baseball team, it is far from it. Potter said the team tries to do a community service project at every town they travel to. Potter and Co. has stops all throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and Virginia.
The team worked on making a volleyball court at Witmer Park on Tuesday and may do some work at the Clearfield Skate Park today before heading to Reading.
"This is the fourth year that the Potter Tour has come to Clearfield," said Lansberry. "We always look forward to it. I really like what they do and what their philosophy is.
"A couple parents at the beginning of the tour said, ‘I thought we'd be playing more baseball.' Finally, they caught on that it's not all baseball. They play frequently, but their main goal is community service and playing baseball the right way."
In the past three years of the tour's existence, Clearfield has always sent one player on the tour. There were no players for the Pirates this season, but alumnus Brandon Orsich played against the Potter team this year after going on the tour last summer.
Other than community service, the Potter Tour also makes frequent stops at various minor league baseball fields and even played a game at the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. The team also held a baseball clinic on Monday at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona.
"They love it," said Potter. "It's a lot of baseball. It's a lot of fun. We go from town to town and everyday, it's something different. One day, it could be a baseball clinic. The next day, we could be feeding the homeless. The next day, we're running a 5K. From the kids' perspective, they get to see something completely different everyday."
Lansberry said he enjoys seeing what the Pirates learn in their travels and believes in what Potter is doing, while Potter said he's learned plenty from Lansberry in the approximately 10 trips he has made to Clearfield to watch Lansberry's teams.
"The discipline is unbelievable," said Lansberry. "The kids are attentive. They listen. They're well behaved. At the end of the games, they shake everybody's hands. They shake the umpire's hands. Everything is just well disciplined. I think the kids learn a lot of life lessons when they're on the tour. It's a lot more than just baseball. That's why I like to see them come to town."
"I'm always watching, observing and trying to pick up things from Sid," said Potter. "I'm a firm believer that anytime you step on a baseball field, you can learn something from somebody. Sid is a great guy. He's old school. He's all about fundamentals. I try to be like that. Every time I come up, I try to pick something up from him."
In the game, Wise Eyes defeated the Pirates, 11-4 in a rain-shortened, 4-inning game. Wise Eyes was the away team in the game after the Pirates won the traditional bat toss before the game.
Cole Kephart, Dan Collins and Sawyer Rowles all had two hits for Wise Eyes, with Kephart blasting a 2-run homer in the first inning. Rowles and Noah Cline each had a double and drove in three runs, while Thomas Summers also had a double.
Collins earned the win on the mound after throwing two innings and giving up three earned runs on two hits. Rowles relieved Collins and threw two shutout frames and gave up just one hit, while striking out two and walking two.
Potter believes the tours will keep growing in the future. They have grown to three separate tours this year, and next year's stop may come during the week of the Clearfield County Fair.
"This year, we have 43 tour stops," said Potter. A lot of people are asking ‘Can you come to our community?' I think we'll probably just continue to grow and grow and expand to other areas."
Lansberry said that Clearfield will always be a destination on the tour for the future Pirates.
"We may not even play a baseball game one of these years," he said. "We might just let them do activities around Clearfield or put our team and his team together and do a volleyball tournament or something. It doesn't have to be a baseball game."
"If I had a kid that age, I wouldn't mind sending him out on the tour for five or six weeks. They learn a lot of stuff besides baseball."

Wise Eyes-11
Puit lf-cf 2111, Kephart ss 3122, Summers 1b-lf 2210, Kennedy 3b 2000, Collins p-eh 2120, Orsich eh-1b 3200, Sorbera c 3211, Cline 2b 3113, Rowles cf-p 3123, Taylor rf 3010. Totals: 26-11-11-10.
Potter Pirates-4
Baust ss 2000, Rettig lf 2010, Kieffer cf-p 1000, Lucas 1b 2000, Waas p-cf 0100, Martin c 1000, Edwards rf 0100, Rebmann 3b 1110, Pendleton 2b-eh 1101, Tennyson eh-2b 0000, Kirby eh 1001, Panase eh 1010, Caun eh 1000, Orloski eh 1000, Antonuccio eh 0000, Trunzo eh 1000. Totals: 15-4-3-2.
Score by Innings
Wise Eyes        710 3-11 11 2
Potter Pirates   040 0-4   0  5
Errors-Kennedy, Rowles; Waas, Rebmann 2, Lucas, Baust. LOB-Wise Eyes 7, Potter Pirates 5. DP-Potter Pirates 1. 2B-Summers, Cline, Rowles. HR-Kephart (1 on, 1st inning). SB-Antonuccio. HBP-Kieffer (by Collins). CS-Waas (by Sorbera).
Pitching
Wise Eyes: Collins-2 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO; Rowles-2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO.
Potter Pirates: Waas-1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO; Kieffer-3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO.
WP-Collins. LP-Waas.


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