Franchot visits Lefty Grove Park, presents awards on Western Maryland swing

Dorothy Thompson, Lefty Grove's grand-niece, looks on as Comptroller Peter Franchot speaks during a presentation at Lefty Grove Memorial Park in Lonaconing on Tuesday. A bronze likeness of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher is in the background.

LONACONING — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot stopped by Lefty Grove Park on his tour of Western Maryland Tuesday to add another remembrance of history to the town’s collection.

Franchot presented a plaque to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 1929 World Series between the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago Cubs. The centerpiece of the park is a bronze statue of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher.

The Athletics beat the Cubs in that series, and Grove, considered one of the greatest left-handed pitchers to play the game, recorded two saves for the Athletics during it.

The comptroller met with Dorothy Thompson, Grove’s grand-niece, who lives in the area, and told him a story about the duckpin bowling alley Grove owned in town and gave him a shirt from the statue commemoration. 

Franchot gave a speech, which was followed by shorter speeches from Thompson, state Dels. Mike McKay and Jason Buckel and Jake Shade, Allegany County commissioner. 

“I’m very very proud of what you’ve created here,” Franchot said. “Why am I proud of it? I love Western Maryland. I love the story of Lefty Grove, who left Western Maryland. He didn’t have an education really — everybody around him was working in the coal mines — all he had was incredible athletic ability and he went on to become the greatest baseball player in the history of the game, in my humble opinion.

Like Grove, a left-hander, Franchot said he planned to advertise the park all over the place. “I think it’s a fabulous testament to Lefty Grove,” he said.

“Why do I like him so much? It’s not just the baseball prowess, it’s the fact that after he was finished playing baseball he came back very close to here where he grew up and contributed to the community,” Franchot said.

Thompson said she was proud of the statue being in Lonaconing and that she had fond memories of Grove.

“It’s just another gem along Georges Creek that people can see,” McKay said.

“Lonaconing is a tough place full of a lot of strong-willed people that have worked their whole lives to represent their community and our whole area,” said Buckel. “There’s probably not a better example of it than the person immortalized in that bronze statue.”

Shade praised Franchot’s support of the craft breweries and wineries in the state. “It’s spurring economic growth,” he said.

Earlier Tuesday, the comptroller visited High Mountain Sports in Oakland where he presented the Garrett County Cornerstone Award for Local Business Excellence to owner Steve Green. Since 1987, the sporting goods store has provided the local community with equipment, apparel and repairs on various outdoor equipment like bikes, snowboards and kayaks.

The last leg of Franchot’s trip was in LaVale, where he presented the Allegany County Cornerstone Award for Local Business Excellence to Lennox East owner Marlene Lennox. The independent formal wear store is one of Maryland’s oldest, selling tuxedos, gowns and dresses for weddings and proms, and various other occasions that desire a black tie or rich silhouette. 

Follow staff writer Brandon Glass on Twitter @Bglass13.

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