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Condo, Adams have P-O feeling pride

August 25, 2013
By Todd Irwin (tirwin@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

PHILIPSBURG - Go into the Pizza Hut here, the Moshannon Valley Super Bowl's Gutters Lounge or Philipsburg-Osceola High School - just to name a few places - and you see photos, trophy cases and jerseys devoted to Jon Condo and Matt Adams.

When the Pittsburgh Pirates hosted the St. Louis Cardinals in a doubleheader on July 30, five busloads of people from Philipsburg, Osceola Mills and other parts of the Philipsburg-Osceola School District made the trip. They were not only anticipating a big series, but they were also there to cheer on Adams, the power-hitting backup first baseman in his first full season in the major leagues.

Both Adams and Condo, the long snapper for the Oakland Raiders, are from the little town of Philipsburg (population 2,778). To say that the community is proud of them is an understatement.

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"When you have two guys who are playing at the professional level for football and baseball, I think it's great for the kids of any town like Philipsburg or a small school like Philipsburg-Osceola," Moshannon Valley YMCA branch director Mel Curtis said. "A lot of people rally behind them, and it gives them a sense of accomplishment of someone making it."

"The buzz that these guys have made in Philipsburg has been very positive," Philipsburg Main Street Manager Dana Shoemaker said, "and the timing is also just right. They have rallied this area and provided positive energy for those who have known them or their families personally or just because of sharing a hometown with them."

Condo and Adams are venturing into uncharted waters.

Last year, Adams became the third player from Philipsburg to make the major leagues, but Philipsburg baseball historian and Major League Scouting Bureau member Keno Beezer said Adams was the first since Alf Jones made the Philadelphia Athletics roster in 1930.

Jones didn't play in a game, though. Before that, it was Tom Philips, whose family founded the town of Philipsburg. Beezer said Philips played in the 1890s, and he played in a few games.

Three players from the Osceola Mills semi-pro team - Wilbur "Roxey" Roach, Eddie "Casey" Murphy and Ty "Lefty" Wilson - eventually played for eight different major league teams from 1910 to 1928.

Nobody from the area had ever played in the NFL.

"I think it's a phenomenal thing," said Dick Condo, Jon's father. "Whether you like football or baseball, you have somebody to root for. You'll root for them when you see them on TV even though might not like either team. It brings a sparkle to your eye when you see something you haven't seen in your lifetime."

In June of last year, P-O grad Tim Bainey Jr. drove in a Nationwide race at Dover International Speedway, but he was spun out by Joey Logano, and he wrecked.

"The simultaneous production of two professional athletes is an exceptional achievement, especially for a small school," said historian and retired P-O wrestling coach Dave Caslow, who coached Condo. "Jon Condo and Matt Adams come from wonderful families with devoted parents who serve as excellent role models."

One other thing they have in common is they're both big. Adams is 6-3, 260 pounds, while Condo is listed at 6-3, 245.

Condo, who turns 32 on Monday, is seven years older, lives in California, travels back to Philipsburg a couple times a year and was married in 2012. He and his wife, Jaclyn, are expecting a baby girl on Dec. 26.

Adams, who turns 25 on Saturday, lives in Philipsburg in the offseason and can often be seen attending P-O wrestling matches, where Dick Condo is an assistant coach.

Adams has worked with kids at the ERA Baseball Academy in Altoona.

Adams and Condo don't know each other well, but they hope that changes in years to come.

"I wish I could talk to him," Jon Condo said, "but that's just the way it is. Last winter, I went to the Y, and Mel [Curtis] said 'You just missed Matt.' I'm not home that often, and it's tough with our schedules."

"I know Jon a little bit," Adams said. "He is older than me, and I don't know much about him other than he is a great guy and great athlete. Yeah, I follow what he's doing. He has done extremely well. He's a great football player, and he deserves to be where he is."

Condo is a 2000 graduate who is arguably the best athlete the school has ever produced. He was named an Associated Press all-state linebacker twice, ran for more than 1,000 yards as a senior fullback, won a Class AAA 275-pound state wrestling title despite weighing only 216 pounds, placed twice in Hershey and was named an all-state catcher in baseball.

He never long-snapped in high school, but he was the starter at that spot all four years at Maryland. He was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2005, waived, signed as a free agent by the New England Patriots in 2006, waived and signed by the Raiders in 2007.

Entering his seventh year with the Raiders, Condo has been selected to two Pro Bowls and just signed a three-year contract extension.

Even though he was certainly big enough to play football in high school, Adams is a 2006 grad who only played baseball for the Mounties. He went on to Slippery Rock University, where he set career records for batting average (.453) and slugging percentage (.746).

In 2009, he was named the Division II Player of the Year after leading the nation in hitting (.495).

The Cardinals drafted him in the 23rd round, and he skyrocketed through the minor leagues, hitting home runs and for average at every stop. In 2011, he was named the Cardinals' Minor League Player of the Year and the Texas League MVP.

The State College Spikes, a Cardinals' affiliate, honored Adams with a night earlier this month.

Adams was hitting .340 with nine homers and 27 RBIs at Class AAA Memphis when he got called up to the Cards in May of 2012 after Lance Berkman's injury. He immediately started against the Los Angeles Dodgers - on ESPN - and singled up the middle on the first pitch thrown to him by Chad Billingsley en route to a 2-for-4 night.

Elbow surgery, however, ended his season.

He made the Cards coming out of spring training this year, and he has played well as a spot starter and pinch hitter. As of Wednesday, he was hitting .282 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs playing behind All-Star first baseman Allen Craig.

"I really haven't come down out of the clouds yet," said his dad, Jamie Adams. "When I'm watching him on TV, it's unbelievable."

Check out Facebook and Twitter while Condo or Adams are playing, and you'll see many P-O grads - and some non-P-O grads - posting or tweeting about their favorite sons.

Condo has a Twitter account. Adams doesn't have Twitter or Facebook, but fans can follow what he does after every game and read every story written about him by checking out Matt Adams Fan Page on Facebook.

The page was created in 2012 by his cousin, Chris Adams, a 1990 P-O grad and a former pitcher who lives in North Carolina. As of Wednesday, the page had 2,423 likes.

"I wanted to create a page that was representative of the young man he is," Chris Adams said. "I wanted to share stories and pictures and try to get fans to do the same. Matt is such a grounded young man, and how he carries himself is humbling, and he comes from humble roots.

"I know Jon's family, and I coached him one summer. He was a heck of a baseball player at 14, but I think he made the right choice. How many small towns can say they have two pro athletes, and I'm very proud to be from P-O? They've both done a great job handling themselves on the center stage. For every little boy that dreams about making it big, they're proving that dream is possible."

 
 
 

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