Boys emulated him. Adults admired him. Companies coveted his endorsements. One hundred years ago, Christy Mathewson had the name recognition we associate with contemporary athletes such as Michael Jordan.

Today he is a footnote from a bygone era. Presenter Craig Pierce brings Christy Mathewson’s compelling life as “America’s First Sports Hero” into vibrant focus 6 pm, Tuesday, July 26 at Talcott Free Library.

“You might say I’ve been creating this presentation for more than 30 years,” Pierce said. “In college I jotted down an outline for a screenplay about Mathewson’s life, and bits of knowledge have gradually accumulated ever since. Sharing Mathewson’s story – even if it’s not a Hollywood blockbuster — is a fantastic opportunity. I love the interaction with an audience.”

America’s First Sports Hero, highlights Mathewson’s remarkable accomplishments on and off the field: college athlete, Hall of Fame baseball player, writer, product spokesman, World War I veteran and much more. “Growing up in central Pennsylvania in the late 1800s, local boys often worked in coal mines as early as nine years old,” Pierce said. “Mathewson had the good fortune of a different path. He went to college and then became the best known athlete of his time.”

Along with the storybook triumphs comes tragedy. Mathewson died of Tuberculosis at 45. “In 1925, it’s fair to say no one other than former Presidents and Founding Fathers had received such widespread national mourning,” Pierce said.

More than a baseball program:

Pierce calls his presentation an experience rather than a lecture. “It’s as much a glimpse into turn-of-the-century America as anything else,” Pierce said. “Urbanization, the Industrial Revolution, a growing middle class and the first World War had a profound effect on America’s relationship to sport.”

Learn more about Christy Mathewson: America’s First Sports Hero at Talcott Free Library. The program takes place 6 p.m, Tuesday, July 26. For more information about the presenter, visit  www.craigrpierce.com. For directions, and other details about the program, please contact the Library.

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