Johnstown's No. 1 baseball fan Leverknight honored with ceremony

·3 min read

Jun. 2—Those who attend baseball games in the Johnstown area, whether it be little league, high school or college, know it would be very common to see Ralph Leverknight in attendance.

Leverknight, who passed away in August 2021, was considered Johns- town's No. 1 baseball fan by many, as he attended an average of 170 games per year, the majority at Sargent's Stadium at the Point, where he sat in the same seat for decades.

On Wednesday, the Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League, as well as coaches from Pitt-Johnstown and Bishop McCort Catholic, honored Leverknight by putting a commemorative plaque on his seat during a ceremony prior to the league opener.

"Anyone who comes to the Point to watch any baseball game, no matter what league, they know who Ralph is," JCBL Commissioner Don Stanton said. "He's going to be missed greatly, especially by those who look up in the stands and don't see him sitting there. But there's a plaque there for him. It's important to his family, but it's also very important to everyone who knew him."

Leverknight passed away at the age of 85 on Aug. 9, two days after the conclusion of the 76th AAABA Tournament.

Prior to 2021, Leverknight had attended the previous 75 consecutive tournaments, beginning in 1945, when he was 9 years old. Leverknight was most excited for Johnstown's first-ever tournament victory in 2018, famously holding a sign that read, "I've been waiting 74 years" during the celebration in Central Park.

"I've seen Joe Torre, all of those guys," Leverknight said in an interview during the 2018 celebration. "I've seen 285 players from '45 to now who went from that tournament to the big leagues. I see them all."

The plaque on Leverknight's seat reads, "In Memory of Ralph, he never missed a game."

Along with local coaches, Wednesday's ceremony was attended by many of Leverknight's friends and family, including his wife, Ruth.

Ruth Leverknight, ironically, was attending her first baseball game.

"This is my first game ever," Ruth Leverknight said during the ceremony. "I had never been to a game before. He loves baseball. He had such a passion for it, and what surprises me the most is finding how many people knew him and liked him. It's a really great feeling seeing all of this."

Leverknight's granddaughter, Carrie MacDonald, organized the event along with Stanton. The original plan was for it to be a Christmas gift for the Leverknight family.

"When I called Don to ask about it, he said the process was already in motion," MacDonald said. "That was super-humbling."

MacDonald followed by making a Facebook page for the occasion, as well as making shirts to honor Leverknight.

All of the proceeds from the shirts were given in a donation to the Johnstown soup kitchen in Ralph's name.

MacDonald said she wanted to thank everyone who contributed to the ceremony.

This was an amazing experience," MacDonald said.

"He was a super-simple man that was quiet around his family. He wouldn't say much around us, but at the baseball games everyone knew him and liked him. Having him being honored is great, and I'm sure he appreciates it."