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Historical Baseball Players Share Stories

The Josh Gibson Centennial Educational Tour came to Edinboro University on April 10 to grant students and faculty a taste of history.

A panel presentation was given by former Negro League players, Ted Toles and Pedro Sierra, as well as Sean Gibson, great-grandson of Hall of Fame baseball player Josh Gibson.

“Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel. Not just to be as good as anybody else, but to be better. This is the nature of man and the name of the game,” S. Gibson said, quoting Ted Williams, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.

African Americans weren’t allowed to play in the major leagues, so they formed their own teams directly after the Civil War and during the Reconstruction in the late 1800s, said Marvin DeBose, a grad student in the communications program at Edinboro University, who was acting as moderator for the panel.

Some people say that the Negro League players were bitter or upset that they couldn’t make it into the major leagues, S. Gibson said. But, earning about $6,000 per year, J. Gibson and one of his teammates, Satchel Paige, were probably two of the highest paid players in the Negro Leagues.

J. Gibson is regarded as one of the greatest Negro League players of all time, said DeBose.

“He was just a fun guy to be around,” said Larry Lester, an author and historian that spoke on the documentary that was shown during the presentation.

J. Gibson began catching for the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1927 and went on to play for the Homestead Grays in 1930, DeBose said.

While he was a great catcher, J. Gibson was also considered the greatest slugger in the Negro Leagues with almost 800 homeruns in his 17-year baseball career, S. Gibson said.

Gibson received a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, S. Gibson said. 

“During his career, (J.) Gibson never played on a losing team,” said DeBose.

One of J. Gibson’s most memorable moments, according to the documentary, was in a game against the Lincoln Giants in the Yankee Stadium.

J. Gibson smashed a homerun toward the left field bullpen and some newspaper reports say that it travelled more than 500 feet, farther than Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig, which would make it the longest homerun ever hit.

“He’s one of the greatest of all time,” said S. Gibson, “but in order to be considered the greatest of all time, they should play against both races.” 

Many Negro League baseball players credit J. Gibson with breaking the barrier for them into the major leagues, said the documentary about J. Gibson.

Toles played for the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1946, Debose said. He’s played with famous ball players like Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, and Bill White, among many others.

“I feel as if I’m living on borrowed time,” said Toles. “I’ve been blessed to have been here for 86 years and as far as baseball goes, I never made a million dollar bill, but I had a million dollar thrill.”

When Toles played with the Cleveland Buckeyes in 1947, he could bunt so good that the runner on first base would start running while the pitcher was throwing the ball. 

By the time Toles knocked down the bunt, the runner was already at second, so when the opposing team went to go throw the ball to second, they left third base wide open.

“That was a play we made quite often,” said Toles with a grin.

Sierra played for the Detroit Stars in 1956 as the pitcher and had the most sharp and effective curve balls of his time, said DeBose.

“I was taught to respect the game,” Sierra said.

“Historians can tell the history of the Negro Leagues from what they’ve heard. If it hadn’t been for us, there would be no stories of the Negro League,” said Sierra.

“People tell what they hear. We can tell you what we lived, what we saw, what we felt,” said Sierra. “The discrimination was not like make-believe stories. We were there. We knew what happened. We felt it. We are the history.” 

Anna Tielmann (Taken from The Spectator Vol III, Issue 24)

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Former NPR Personality Discusses Religion Conflicts – Religion and Science

Ken Myers, a former National Public Radio figure, gave a presentation in Cole Auditorium on “Religion and Science” to hundreds of students and faculty on Wednesday, March 28.

“Both terms in popular usage have hardened into defensive positions that have created an unnecessary sense of opposition,” Myers said.

Science is regarded as purely objective and detached from personal choices, said Myers, while religion is seen as entirely subjective, more personal and private.

According to John Polkinhorne, a physicist and theologian, the ideas and thoughts that can be gained from these matters are obstructed by the myth of the battle between the “scientific light” and the “religious darkness.”

Yet, there has been fruitful conversation among scientists, philosophers, and theologian about the relationship between science and religion, said Myers.

“It’s a fruitful conversation because the scientific and theological ways of knowing actually have much in common,” Myers explained.

Thomas Kuhn, author of “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” said that the main challenge is the assumption that we can separate the objective from the subjective.

Some scientists say that when they are behaving in a completely objective manner when, in reality, science relies heavily on the authority of other scientists, Myers pointed out.

“Science must rely heavily on the authority of fellow scientists,” explained Myers. “The community of scientists is one of authority, of trust, and tradition, as are religious communities.”

According to Herbert Butterfield, an English historian, people tend to point to the scientific revolution as outshining everything since Christianity and reduce the Renaissance and the Reformation as “mere episodes,” Myers said.

But, in the 17th century, there wasn’t a single cultural unit called “science,” said Myers. A diverse variety of cultural practices was aimed at understanding, explaining, and controlling the natural world.

There’s a sense that’s detached science from all sorts of human activities, which is very similar to how some people regard religion, Myers pointed out.

“What we call science and what we call religion are deeply human activities. That they’re situated in human history and they’re connected to other aspects of human experience and, to the dismay of zealots on both sides, they’re very much intertwined with one another,” said Myers.

In the late 19th and 20th centuries, there was talk that science was the “new religion” and had succeeded the position that religion had previously enjoyed, Myers said.

In his 1874 book, “History of the Conflict Between Science and Religion,” John William Draper, claimed that science and religion were “necessarily at war.”

According to Draper, there will come a time where men have to choose between immobile faith and ever-advancing science.

Steven Shapin, a historian of science, said that “there’s no such thing as science and there’s no such thing as religion.” They are huge words that lump together human practices, beliefs and institutions, he said.

According to Shapin, science and religion are much more complex than the terms suggest, Myers said.

“I’m not trying to prohibit the use of certain words,” Myers said. “I just want us to recognize that they are used really loosely. The concrete realities that they describe might be obscured if we’re not mindful of the fuzziness of the word.”

“We know the world as persons and as persons we are necessarily tied to an inheritance of knowledge,” Myers said in his closing remarks.

“Merely to use a language, with its distinctive, poetic possibilities, is to be involved in a tradition of knowledge. Such traditions either in science or religion, can be reformed but they can’t be avoided.”

Anna Tielmann (Taken from The Spectator Vol. III, Issue 22) 

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PNC Spokesman Explains Economy

Last Thursday, February 9, students and faculty attended a presentation given by one of PNC Bank’s spokesmen, William Adams, on the current recession in Europe and what it could mean for the U.S. economy.

“We’re not on the same level as Europe in terms of national debt. But the reason we don’t have the same crisis that Europe is having right now is because we have coherent national economic policy,” said Adams.

This policy allows for the federal government to use tax money collected from other states to keep the economy from collapsing completely in another state, said Adams.

Europe has a different economic system called a currency union, where 17 countries share the same currency, but are not under the same government, like the U.S., said Adams.

Adams went on to explain that being a part of a currency union requires the countries to agree on a common fiscal policy, which is how much money the government spends and how much they can collect for taxes. A common monetary policy, which sets the interest rate for an economy, is required as well.

The European economy is going downhill because taxes have gone up, the government spending has gone down, and a lot of government workers have been laid off. “That is probably two-thirds of the reason why Europe is in a recession right now,” Adams explained.

The other one-third of the reason is the investors. “The big issue right now is the banks,” said Adams.

As debt prices have gotten worse, European bank stock has lost about 60 percent of its value. “The higher you are in debt, the harder it is to borrow money,” said Adams

Some economists say that the European recession is just a passing thing and the euro should return to its normal value by the end of the year. “I’m a little more pessimistic about that because… it’s not because of a business cycle, or because the stock market went up or went down. It’s because the institutions they have don’t work,” said Adams.

Unemployment rates also reflect the condition of the economy. In Spain, there’s a 23 percent unemployment rate, which means that about one out of four workers aren’t able to find work. The rest of Europe is at about 10 to 15 percent unemployment.

In comparison, The PNC Northwest PA Market Outlook report says that while manufacturing industries have cut jobs over the years in the U.S. and younger residents have left northwestern Pennsylvania and other states in search of faster growing job markets, the job growth across the country has been encouragingly stable so far through the recovery.

According to The PNC Financial Services Group, “the job growth will average about 140,000 per month in 2012, adding up to 1.7 million new payroll jobs over the course of this year.”

“Our expectation is that we’re going to finish the year with unemployment under 8 percent,” Adams said.

While the U.S. is going to take a small hit from the recession in Europe, our coherent economic policy will allow our unemployment rates to lower and the labor market is starting to show signs of recovering

 “Our debt problems are just as serious as Europe’s debt problems and our deficit is nearly as large as the deficit of other European governments,” acknowledged Adams. But the reason we don’t see the effects of it is because we have a better monetary policy and an independent currency, he said.

“We’re showing signs that we are on our way to recovering from this terrible recession that we’re now finally getting out of,” said Adams.

Anna Tielmann (Taken from The Spectator Vol. III, Issue 16) 

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“Let Us Bring You Into Our World…”

The paranormal has always been one of Chad Calek’s interests.

“Instead of going to spring break, I was going to the Waverly Hills Sanatorium or the Villisca Axe Murder House. I was going to all these haunted places to investigate them,” he said.

More than 200 students, faculty and visitors gathered on Friday to hear Calek speak in the Frank G. Pogue Student Center’s Multipurpose Room. Calek spoke about his purported encouters with ghosts and showed footage he and his team recorded for the television show “Paranormal State.”

In “Good vs. Evil” – Calek’s first episode on the show – Chip Coffey, a psychic, and Ryan Buell, one of the directors, told Calek there was a demon in the basement and suggested he check it out.

While sitting on a chair in the middle of the basement, an ominous growl came out of the darkness.

Calek radioed upstairs and asked if anyone else had heard it. “Yeah, man, [we] heard it,” they replid.

The growl came again and Calek told the team upstairs, “There’s something down here, bro.”

“People ask me how I could just sit there and listen to the growling without moving.”

Calek laughed as he described the situation to the audience.

“Well, the truth is, the growling came from between me and the stairway out… If that thing had come from behind me, I would’ve been flying through that door like a pissed off Sasquatch!”

Calek has been investigating such phenomena since the age of 12, when his family was torn apart by paranormal attacks.

His parents and siblings had told him they had been experiencing things, but Calek had seen and felt nothing.

Calek said he would shout into the air to provoke the ghosts to show themselves when the family wasn’t there; he wanted to be a believer and not think that his family was crazy.

One night at 3 a.m., Calek woke up to his father reciting Scriptures.

According to Calek, when he looked into his parents’ room, he saw his mother’s hair was being pulled by something that wasn’t there.

She also had mild burn marks on her skin and was speaking in Latin, said Calek.

“It’s when you’re looking into the eyes of your mother, and it’s just not your mother and everything that’s going on is just shattering your entire belief system,” Calek said.

That was the moment that he decided to investigate the paranormal.

Throughout their time with “Paranormal State,” Calek and his team have encountered paranormal activity in Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Villisca Axe Murder House as well as churches.

“Our goal is to go out and challenge the biggest [and] most scary, horrifying places around, document that footage and show the people have the power,” said Calek.

This will be the last season on “Paranormal State” for the team. Calek and Buell have been working on a documentary film called “American Ghost Hunter,” which will be released June 2.

“It came out 10 times more intense than we had imagined,” said Calek. The film covers the paranormal activity his family experienced for more than two decades.

According to Calek, “the stuff we captured is the most compelling evidence we have for the paranormal.”

Calek and Buell realized people are going to have questions and will want answers once they see his film.

That’s when they decided to tour around the world with the film. They intend to give their audience a taste of their world.

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia will be two of their even locations this year.

The Student Philanthropy Council sponsored “Student Philanthropy Day: Trail of the Dead Tour 2011” and made it possible for Calek to come to campus.

Visit his website at:

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