August 03, 2011

Minor league baseball team to don Lucille Ball uniforms

The Jamestown Jammers (short season A; NY-Penn League) will be honoring native Lucille Ball in an unusual way: they'll don commemorative jerseys tomorrow festooned with images of Ball and ex-hubby Desi Arnaz.

We've seen lots of commemorative jerseys throughout the years, but none with two pictures on the front. (See for yourself here.) Lucy is a big deal in Jamestown: she was born there on Aug. 6, 1911, and the city hosts the Lucy-Desi Center, dedicated to honoring her legacy as one of America's most popular comedians. The jerseys, to be worn at tomorrow night's game, will help mark the 100th anniversary of Ball's birth in Jamestown and will be auctioned off after the game, with the proceeds to benefit the Lucy-Desi Center.

Together, Russ Ecklund, Matt Drayer and Lou Deppas left the Jamestown Jammers office at Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park last Friday night, walked across the concourse and stationed themselves against a wall in anticipation of a photo opportunity.

Before the photograph was taken, the men unfolded two jerseys and in doing so they didn't need to be asked to smile for the camera. Just holding the commemorative uniform tops made them grin from ear to ear.
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, who made it their personal legacy to make people laugh, would have been pleased.

In honor of Lucy's 100th birthday and in conjunction with the Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy this week, commemorative game jerseys, featuring Lucy and Desi on the front and Lucy's 100th birthday celebration logo on the back, will be worn by the Jammers during their New York-Penn League game Wednesday night against Tri-City. The first pitch is at 7:05 p.m. The jerseys will be auctioned off to benefit the Lucy-Desi Center and winners can, should they wish, have them autographed by the Jammer who wore it.

"To my knowledge," said Deppas, a Lucy-Desi vice president and the chairman of Wednesday's event at Diethrick Park, "I don't think anyone in Minor League Baseball is doing this kind of thing. This is special because of Lucy's 100th birthday and because it kicks off the celebration in Jamestown."

The Lucy-Desi commemorative jersey promotion was first done a year ago with considerable success, according to Deppas.

"It's a win-win,'' he said. "You can't lose whether you're a Lucy fan or a baseball fan. We have 40 jerseys and 40 hats and when they're gone, they're gone. This is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because it's Lucy's 100th birthday."

Deppas, who is also a member of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame board of directors, said the Lucy-Desi Center is donating one of last year's Lucy-Desi commemorative jerseys to the CSHOF for display in its museum.

"Being an old sports guy, I jumped all over this one,'' he said.

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