By Denise Allabaugh, Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice
WILKES-BARRE — Husband and wife Jim and Carol Ravert of West Pittston brought a baseball bat to Kirby Park on Labor Day on Monday to be autographed by former Major League Baseball pitcher Bob Duliba.
Duliba, 81, was a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels, Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Athletics.
He came to the NEPA Labor Day Celebration and Festival at Kirby Park to sign autographs and pose for photos to raise money for veterans after Wayne Namey, co-chair of the NEPA Labor Day Committee, asked him.
“He knows I won’t refuse him, even if it’s Labor Day,” said Duliba, a Marine Corps veteran who said he goes to the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Plains Township. “My experiences at the VA are very, very cordial.”
Duliba is a native of Glen Lyon, where he said “all the good baseball players came from.”
He recently returned from the 50th reunion of the Kansas City Athletics. The baseball team left Philadelphia for Kansas City in 1955 and became the Kansas City Athletics before moving to Oakland, California, in 1968.
After playing professional baseball for 20 years, Duliba went to Wilkes University to major in history.
He later was an assistant coach at Wilkes University and a teacher at Wyoming Area High School and helped rebuild the school’s baseball program.
The Raverts said they thought it was great that Duliba donated his time for a great cause. They said they plan to put their autographed baseball bat in a new recreation room.
Christopher Walsh of Duryea brought his 9-year-old daughter Kiersten to get an autographed photo of Duliba.
“We came out to the festival and we knew he was going to be here so we came down to get an autograph,” Walsh said. “I’m a baseball fan so I recognized his name. We like to donate to the veterans. I think this is a great fund-raiser for the veterans. It’s a good combination: baseball, veterans, pride in America.”
The NEPA Labor Day celebration also featured a dunk tank to help raise money for local veterans and included participants such as Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George.
Namey said the goal of the festival was to honor the area’s heritage, such as coal mining, the garment industry, veterans and all workers.
Paintings of the Huber Breaker in Ashley by Joe Pavlick, a retired steel worker and a veteran, were on display.
Local unions also had booths at the festival, including registered nurses at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, represented by the Wyoming Valley Nurses Association and Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.
Elaine Weale, president of the local Wyoming Valley Nurses Association, said they were drawing attention to labor issues.
Among them, registered nurses are still mandated to work overtime and they are still short-staffed despite previous strikes over these issues, she said.
“There are a lot of open positions. There are a lot of nursing jobs open that are not being filled,” Weale said. “We also just want people to be aware of health care issues, such as health insurance and other things going on in health care, because it’s going to affect everybody eventually at some point in their lives.”