By Robin Van Auken
The Wholehearted Author
Janice Ogurcak is the Director of Public Programming and Outreach at the World of Little League Museum.
This museum is to Little League what the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is to Major League Baseball.
Its filled with significant artifacts that range from serious to frivolous. There is a piece torn from the Berlin Wall when it fell, the badge of a fireman who perished in the World Trade Center on 9/11, a 1970s-era Troll Doll and a patch that flew in space.
Each of these artifacts tell a story — one person’s story — and how they credit Little League with helping them develop the traits of character, courage and loyalty that helped them persevere when difficult times called for it.
Did I mention that Jan is also the author of The World of Little League? It’s a photo book that shares some of the history of Little League Baseball, with a focus on artifacts that can be found at the youth sport’s organization’s museum.
A former newspaper reporter and editor, Jan is a consummate researcher and she loves the art of the interview. She was employed by the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, joining the newspaper’s editorial staff in 1977, then accepting a promotion in 1990 as Lifestyle Editor.
When she accepted the invitation to write the book, she dedicated herself to finding the people behind the artifact and, when possible, talking to them.
Despite the fact that their story can’t possibly fit into the lengthy photo caption, it was important to Jan to listen to it, and to honor it.
She also honors their stories when visitors come to the museum, and she’s able to tell them a bit more about that strange piece of dental work, or the bicycle, or the origami cranes and the Emmy awards.
A museum is a curiosity shop when you don’t have context, and that’s what Jan does best – gives context, and meaning, and accuracy to people’s stories.
I hope that Jan’s interview inspires you to listen to someone’s story today. Honor the story by sharing it with others. That’s how we live forever.
Jan is a lucky woman – she has seven grandchildren, who fill her days with happiness. She may not have time to write another book yet, but that time will come. For now, she’s doing the most important thing she can – being a grandparent. I’m envious! She keeps saying she’s happy to share, but I haven’t opened my door to find a box of kiddies yet.
About Janice Ogurcak
A native of Hershey, Pa., and graduate of Northern Lebanon High School (1973), Jan holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Penn State University (1977). She resides in Williamsport with her husband, Richard. They couple have two children and seven grandchildren. She is the secretary for the International Sports Heritage Association (ISHA) Board of Directors during the annual conference held at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary. She has been serving as a member of the board since 2012 when she was elected as a director.
From its humble beginnings as a three-team sport in 1939 until today, Little League continues to build character and promote courage and loyalty. The World of Little League” Museum also has emerged as a world-class showcase for the largest youth sports organization on the planet.
Among the items on display in this amazing museum are a Little League keystone patch taken to outer space, an astronaut’s suit, a piece of the Berlin Wall, updated safety equipment, and other artifacts that help to tell the history of the sport. Little League graduates include doctors, actors, musicians, firefighters, Olympians, educators, writers, sports stars, and a president of the United States.
Their stories and others can be found in this book and at the museum, which is adjacent to Howard J. Lamade Stadium, where the Little League Baseball World Series has been played every August since 1959.
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