Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on Dec 15th.
25 Years Ago
December 15, 1996 – Sunday
“Fame and Fortune”
Chambersburg — Though he’s just 18, Matt White of Waynesboro is already a millionaire who has achieved nationwide attention. Today, he talks about his recent signing with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the big-league challenges that await.
Q: Matt, not every 18-year-old gets to sign a $10.2 million contract. What was the first thing you bought after that?
A: Actually, I just finally got my check (Monday), so the first thing I actually bought was a vehicle a new Chevy Tahoe. It’s really neat. I can’t drive it enough right now. It’s a lot of fun, because my old gray van was the last vehicle I drove, and it’s a big step for me.
Q: When did you first realize your talent was out of the ordinary?
A: Probably in the summer of my junior year when I went to the Team 1 Showcase. That’s the first time I was actually put on a national stage. It’s a showcase in Cincinnati where they invite scouts and other people who think are the best high school players in the country. They put us on about four teams, and we play kind of round robin. There are about 200 scouts who show up, evaluate your talent, and compare you to the others. … I threw four innings against Bobby Seay, who signed with the Devil Rays also as a free agent. I thought that was pretty ironic.
Q: What was the turning point for you? Was it coming up with a certain pitch, or when your speed picked up?
A: I don’t think too many people knew about me; they knew about my brother, and he was pretty well-recruited and looked after by professional scouts. I was two years younger, so they didn’t really know about me.
Q: Do you think your brother’s involvement in baseball helped lead some scouts to you?
A: Yeah, big time. They came to see Greg at first, then they saw this 6-foot, 4-inch kid brother who could throw the ball 91-92 (mph). As a sophomore, that was pretty decent. I guess they put it in the back of their minds that when my time came, I was going to be there.
Q: You had a lot of honors in the past year. What was the highest honor you’ve been able to obtain?
A: I think I have four or five National Player of the Year, one with Gatorade; one with USA Baseball; High School Baseball Coach Association. I was really pleased with all of those. I think the USA Baseball one really stuck out, because the experience with the junior team and having the opportunity to try out for the Olympic team are things I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Not that I won’t remember my high school career and all that, but just having the opportunity to represent my country for two years, that’s an unbelievable feeling.
Q: There are a lot of honors, true, but there are also big league expectations now. How much does that concern you?
A: It really doesn’t concern me too much. Basically, people are going to say that money is going to be the factor that’s going to pressure me. That’s the thing that’s supposed to pressure me the most, but I really don’t see that being the case, because the only thing I can control is what I do on the mound. I can’t control the outside. Well, I can push them away. But the thing I’m going to do is concentrate most on performing, doing what I know how to do best, which is throwing a baseball. That outside pressure is just going to be pushed to the side. My work ethic and the way I go about things every day won’t change just because I signed for X amount of dollars.
Q: A former big leaguer from this area Tom Brookens had a pretty good observation on that, I think. He said because of the amount of money invested in you, you will be given every chance to succeed, whereas they might be quicker to release a player who signed for less. Do you think that’s true?
A: Yeah, I think that’ll help big time. Going in, one of the things that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays said was that I’m gonna be their marquee player. They’re going to go out and spend X amount of dollars on me, so they’re going to make sure that I’m given every opportunity to succeed and try to make it to the major leagues.
Q: When San Francisco picked you in the draft, was that a surprise to you?
A: Yeah, it was. Looking back on it, I can’t even remember too many San Francisco scouts being at my games. There were scouts for certain teams we had in the house, and San Francisco wasn’t one of them. We really weren’t sure where they stood before the draft. Well, right before the draft, they knew how much money it would take to sign me, but their interest was like a last-minute thing. … When this rule violation thing came up, (and I became a free agent), we gave the Giants every opportunity to still sign me, even though they had violated the rule.
Q: So were you ever close to signing with the Giants?
A: No, not at all. They knew we had told the teams that it was going to take this much money to get me signed, and they drafted me knowing this. They really never got close to what we’d said we wanted to do.
Q: You have an agent who’s pretty well known in sports circles Scott Boras. Who are some of his other clients?
A: Alex Rodriguez, Greg Maddux, Kevin Brown…
Q: How did you get hooked up with this agent?
A: Well, he was one of the first people I talked to, and his information seemed to me like the best. Most of the other agents really didn’t tell me what they could do for me, as far as helping me plan my future and go through my professional years, whereas Scott was up front in letting me know how his company can help me, how his people work in helping develop myself into a professional. It was pretty much an easy sell, because they’re the best.
Q: How did you go about weeding down the teams? As I understand it, there were four in the running…
A: Four or five.
Q: Who were those teams?
A: I’ll explain the whole process. I was granted free agency after the rule was violated and it went to the commissioner’s office. Scott wanted me to start working out again (because there was a period after the junior team that I had stopped working out and stopped throwing) so I could show the teams that I was in good health and good shape. He sent me out to Arizona State University to work out I was out there for about 17 days and got a physical workout program from a strength condition coach who gives Scott’s clients some workouts. I threw for about three or four teams as a kind of open workout. They were invited to come and watch me, but there was no pressure to be there. Then I went to Tampa to work out for the Yankees. After that I went to New York to get my award for USA Baseball, and then back down to Tampa after the Tampa Devil Rays had called to give me a workout I met … the general manager and owner. They explained about their organization and their developmental system, and I pretty much fell in love with the Tampa area. And the rest is history.
Q: How big of a factor was the fact that Tampa Bay is a new franchise? Do you think you’ll get to the majors sooner because of it?
A: I think it was a pretty big factor in deciding. Of course, with them being an expansion team, they don’t start until ’98, so I felt there wasn’t any real pressure for me to get started right away. I didn’t have to be in the big leagues immediately when they started. They’d pretty much told me that I’m gonna take my time through the minor leagues, and when I’m ready to start going to the next level, then I’m going to go at my own pace.
Q: Have they given you any kind of a time line as to when they think you might be ready?
A: The only timeline they gave me was this year; I’m voluntarily going down in January to get started early, and then spring training follows after that at the end of February to the beginning of March. I’m going early to get back on pace, because I missed last summer their instructional league and all that. So, they’re going to try to get me into “A” ball.
Q: So you’ll be coming to Frederick to play?
A: Actually to Hagerstown.
Q: That’s even better. The Orioles are the closest big league team to Waynesboro. Were they in the running at all? it would seem sort of nice for you to pitch that close to home.
A: Yeah, I guess they threw their hat in the ring a little bit. They’d shown an interest in me, and I actually went down to the first two games of the playoffs. They had invited me down to get to know the people.
Q The playoffs with Cleveland?
A: Yeah. That was a great experience for me. I actually got to go down on the field and meet Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken. It was pretty neat, but when it came down to it, they felt that they just didn’t have the total financial capabilities that some of the other teams had.
50 Years Ago
December 15, 1971 – Wednesday
“How to Make It An Ecological Christmas”
Chambersburg – An ecological list for Christmas this year has been devised Sandra Yeager, first vice president of Environmental Conversation Organization, (ECO).
Her list follows: ENVIRONMENTAL CALENDARS
- “The Living Garden,” published by Concern, Inc., and the Audubon Naturalist Society. It gives (directions and timetables for planting, fertilizing and meeting insect and disease problems without recourse to environmentally harmful pesticides. Send orders to Box 60, Mc Lean, Va., 22101
100 Years ago
December 15, 1921 – Thursday
“45 C. V. Division Men Laid Off Today”
Chambersburg – Forty-five or fifty employees on the Cumberland Valley Division of the P. R. R., including about 6 men in Chambersburg, will be furloughed from service effective today, according to an announcement made today at the local offices.
Falling off of business is ascribed as the reason for the cut in forces. One yard crew will be taken from Hagerstown and Gumbo and a number of station employees, shop men and track hands furloughed at various points along the division.