But Roadside Tribute to Local Sports Hero Often Goes Unnoticed
By Keith Gudz
Knightly News Reporter
Every day, students, staff members, visitors and passers-by drive down Valley Road along the north end of the Central Penn College campus.
They drive past a piece of the not-too-distant past that holds a story about a heartbroken town and a hometown hero who was tragically taken from this world far too soon.
On the north side of Valley Road, in a field across from Central Penn’s historic Boyer House and down a bit toward the village of Summerdale, there is a gap where the grass does not grow. In that little circle of dirt are flowers, and baseballs on which the cowhide covers and threaded seams are splitting apart. This often-overlooked circle in a field is a memorial to Tom Sgrignoli, and this is his story.
Tom grew up in Enola. The son of Ron and Janet Sgrignoli of Enola, Tom became a sports star on the local scene in 1997, as a standout athlete at East Pennsboro Area High School. While there, Tom excelled in baseball, basketball and golf, and in his senior year, on the Panthers’ varsity football team.
While on the team, Tom was selected and named Most Valuable Player of the 1998 Thanksgiving High School All-Star Football Classic. He had three interceptions and returned one for a touchdown.
After high school, Tom went on to play for Enola’s team in the East Shore Twilight Baseball League, and was a highly successful pitcher. His future as the continuous toast of Enola seemed bright and long-lasting. But all that changed in mid-2005.
On June 22, Tom was riding his motorcycle along Valley Road when he was struck by a wire that was jarred loose by a truck that had passed through before he did. Tom crashed in the field across from the Boyer House. He was taken to Holy Spirit Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. Tom was 24 years old.
In a recent telephone interview, Ron Sgrignoli said about his son’s crash: “It was the weirdest thing. He was working at Comcast and got off early from work because he had a baseball game to get to. He was going to meet a friend and if it wasn’t for those sets of circumstances, he would still be here. Really makes you think.”
Tom’s family and friends had left items at the crash site as a makeshift memorial. Ron Sgrignoli called then-president, now Central Penn College President Emeritus Todd A. Milano, to inform him of the memorial on the property. Milano agreed to meet with Tom’s parents and offered his condolences, along with any assistance he could be provide.
Milano and the Sgrignolis met over a light lunch, and Milano offered to allow the memorial to be permanent. The memorial is maintained by the Central Penn College Facilities Department.
Through Milano’s support, and with the memories of Tom’s loved ones and the people of his town, he and his legacy live on in that field of dreams.
To comment on this story, or to suggest one, contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.edu.
Edited by Media Club Co-adviser Prof. Michael Lear-Olimpi