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Piece of Our Past: November Week 1

Piece of Our Past: November Week 1

Grin N’ Bear It: ‘Griswold,’ Has a Warm and Fuzzy Affection for the Little League World Series


Meet Griswold. Several months ago, the soft, cuddly bear puppet moved into the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum in Williamsport, Pa.

Jack and Elaine Iaquinta, Griswold’s “best friends,” chose the museum as his retirement home because he loves the Little League Baseball World Series.

Mrs. Iaquinta found him in a shop in downtown Williamsport and brought him to the World Series for the first time in 1977.

“I took him to the field and that was it,” Mrs. Iaquinta said. “The kids (and adults) fell in love with him.”

Griswold (handled by Mrs. Iaquinta) would shyly bow his head and play to the children and adults during the games. If they were receptive, Griswold would nuzzle them in the neck and give kisses.

“That bear made more friends than we did,” Mr. Iaquinta, a former district administrator for New Jersey District 12, said, “If we ever forgot him, everyone wanted to know where Griswold was.”

As Griswold aged throughout the years, Mr. Iaquinta said the bear’s insides broke down and one year he did not go with the family to the World Series games. So many people questioned where Griswold was that a decision was made to purchase Griswold, Jr.

“Junior,” now winters with the current New Jersey District 12 district administrator, Dave Koehler. Mr. Koehler takes care of Griswold Jr. during the winter and brings him to the Series so he can visit with the Iaquintas, who now live in Florida.

The bear was created by Folkmanis Inc., a creative hand puppet company. The bruin wears a New Jersey District 12 Little League cap with two special Little League pins. He also wears a nametag and other pins.

One of the pins on Griswold’s hat features his good friend “Blazer,” a Weimaraner, who is depicted pulling a bag, and spilling bats and balls. Blazer often wore a saddle fashioned by Mrs. Iaquinta for Griswold to sit on when attending Little League games in New Jersey.  A number of pins with his likeness were manufactured for trading.

The other pins that Griswold kept in his possession include one he received in 1998 at the Little League International Congress in San Antonio; another from Ontario, Canada, District 7; and one in honor of Jim Davis, New Jersey District 12’s “Mr. Little League.”

The puppet is among the novelties and artifacts housed at the museum which catalogs the history of Little League Baseball and Softball.

The Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, 525 Route 15 Highway, just south of Williamsport, is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. After Labor Day in September, the hours change to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. The facility is accessible to the disabled.

Rates are $5 for adults; $3 for those 62 and older; $1.50 for children between the ages of 5 and 13. There is no fee for children 4 or younger. Group rates and tours are available. The museum also offers birthday parties and after-hours facility rentals. For more information, call the museum at (570) 326-3607; or visit www.littleleague.org/Learn_More/museum.htm.