Cy Young Days Festival welcomes John Denny

Cy Young Days Festival welcomes John Denny

John Denny, who won the Cy Young Award in 1983 when he was playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, will be the guest of honor at the annual Cy Young Days Festival.


John Denny, who won the Cy Young Award in 1983 when he was playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, will be the guest of honor at the annual Cy Young Days Festival June 24-26.

The festival honors Cy Young and the game of baseball. It also promotes the youth and the village of Newcomerstown through family-oriented activities.

The group hopes to have different food vendors and new games at this year’s festival. Also at the festival will be a dunk tank that benefits the local high school softball team and another fundraiser that benefits the golf team. Blow-ups will be available for the younger children, and there will be a variety of other activities available.

“We want people to have something to do when they get here,” said Ed Gibson, president of the Cy Young Days Festival committee. “Friday night we have a cornhole tournament. We’ve been doing that for a few years now. We try to do different things to bring in different people because some people like cornhole; some people don’t. Some like to watch the bands; other ones don’t. And some people like to go to car shows.”

The speed pitching machine proved to be so popular last year the committee purchased the game, and it will return this year. Also returning to the festival this year is the pet show, which will be held on Sunday at 3 p.m. on the Canal Street stage.

Gibson is looking forward to the old timer’s baseball games on Sunday.

“They play in the 1860s style. There will be four teams. We’ll have our team and three other teams come in from different parts of Ohio that actually play quite often. Those guys dress in old uniforms like they did back in the 1860s, and they are a lot of fun to watch,” Gibson said.

This will be the second year the tournament will be named after the late Ron Porcher.

“Ron had been part of our festival for years before he passed away,” Gibson said. “We were deeply involved with the youth baseball program for years together, and then he got involved with the festival when I did. He’s sorely missed. He did a lot.”

Denny will throw out two pitches at the baseball game. Denny will autograph them, and the festival committee will keep one, with the other ball presented to Mrs. Porcher.

“Which we did last year — Perci (Garner) actually gave her the ball last year when he signed it. He took it up to her and gave it to her,” Gibson said. “That man is a class act.”

Because of the uncertainty of the air travel last year, Garner, a Dover resident and former Cleveland Indians pitcher, agreed to participate in last year’s festival. Garner is now helping promote the festival with his podcast.

Chris Hart of Newcomerstown will perform as Cy Young on Friday evening at the Newcomerstown Historical Society.

“He dresses up as Cy Young, and during our festival, he’ll be in the parade. On Sunday he comes up to the ball game dressed up,” Gibson said. “It just adds a little more to it. We’ve had some of the guys at umpire know the history of Cy Young, and between games (Hart) would carry on conversations with them. It just added so much to the game.”

Gibson can’t believe it’s been 22 years since the late Jane Benedum Meuhlen convinced him to bring back the community festival named after the pitcher.

“Jane Benedum Meuhlen was the caretaker for Cy Young. When he got out of Major League Baseball, he was broke. And he went live with the Benedums. Jane was maybe 4 years old when he moved in,” Gibson said. “After she got a little older, at 14 years of age, the state gave her a special driver’s license so she could drive Cy Young around.”

Benedum Meuhlen was living with her daughter at the time the festival was brought back.

“Then the third year we had our festival, we had Jane flown in, and I actually got to meet the lady. What a fireball. I spent quite a few hours with her in those three days. I’ve talked with her on the phone many times. She would tell me stories about Cy Young, and I keep saying, ‘Jane, write a book.’ She never did,” Gibson said. “Her ashes are now buried out in Peoli by Cy Young’s grave.

“If it wouldn’t have been for her asking, we wouldn’t be doing this. If somebody had told me 25 years ago I’d be meeting former Cy Young Award winners, I would have thought they were crazy.”

Gibson invites everyone to attend the festival. Tickets are still available for the luncheon with Denny. For more information call 740-498-8562.

The schedule for the three-day festival is as follows:

Friday, June 24: tents and concessions open at 5 p.m. with opening ceremonies held on the Canal Street stage and cornhole tournament sign-ups beginning, introduction of the queen and her court at 5:30 p.m. on the Canal Street stage, cornhole tournament downtown at 6 p.m., and Family Traditions Band, aka Dotson Brothers, from 8-11 p.m.

Saturday, June 25: Cy Young Run registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at Pride shop building behind the press box at NCT High School track, Cy Young Run at Newcomerstown High School at 8 a.m., Luncheon doors open at Laborers Local Hall 134 at 11:30 a.m. with lunch at 12:30 p.m. and bat auction to be held during the luncheon, tents and concessions open at noon, Domenic Greco Band on Main Street from noon to 2 p.m., parade lineup beginning at Newcomerstown High School at 4:30 p.m., parade starts at 6 p.m., royalty and visiting royalty introductions on Canal Street stage at 6:45 p.m., grand parade marshal autograph signing at the Olde Main Street Museum at 7 p.m., and The Adam Calvert Band country/rock show on Canal Street stage from 8-11 p.m.

Sunday, June 26: Ron Porcher Vintage Base Ball Games begin at Cy Young Park at 10 a.m., concessions open downtown at noon, registration for car show on Main Street at 1 p.m., talent show on Canal Street stage at 1 p.m., car show registration ends on Main Street at 3 p.m., pet show on Canal Street stage at 3 p.m., and awards for car show and closing of the festival at 5 p.m.

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