As the World Series has Major League Baseball fans’ interest captured in the present, one local man is already eagerly anticipating the 2023 minor league baseball season.
When “playball” is yelled for the first-time next season at People’s Natural Gas Field, Tom Crownover will begin his 15th season working for the Altoona Curve.
Tom is passionate about his career with the team, but his journey to job fulfillment was not a typical one.
Tom lives with an intellectual disability. But thanks to the Employment Services division of Skills of Central PA, he was assisted in seeking a job to fit his needs, and he was supported through the process of applying, interviewing and training for a new job.
Over 14 years later, his “labor of love” benefits the Altoona Curve, and thousands of the visitors to the stadium every year.
“Everyone at the ballpark knows Tom,” emphatically stated Doug Mattern, the director of ballpark operations. “He is always smiling, and everyone knows that big smile. If someone comes to a game and doesn’t know Tom… they will.”
Tom is proud of his official Curve shirt that says “CLEANER” on the back, and during games, his role is to make sure his section of the stadium is spotless.
Sweeping and tending to occasional messes is a big part of his responsibilities. More importantly for many game night guests, he keeps the restrooms stocked with necessities, and maintains the bathrooms all game long.
Tom is also responsible for the corporate boxes and VIP suites, helping to ensure that very special guests of the team’s biggest supporters and sponsors can enjoy a night at ballpark.
The training, support and job coaching that Tom completed many years ago at Skills of Central PA continues to help him today.
Hundreds of others with intellectual disabilities in the job force throughout the region also benefit from the long list of varied employment services offered by Skills.
While Skills has helped thousands of people like Tom over a span of more than 60 years, Tom’s story stands out, because of the longevity of his career, and his “fame” among the loyal fans of the Curve.
Mattern was quick to point out the quality of Tom’s labor, but he also mentioned that Tom’s enthusiasm for working game nights has made him a very popular staff member with the fans. “He famously high-fives everyone.”
Tom cares about his job and knows the stadium that he maintains, in great detail.
On a quick off-season walk through, Tom was immediately pointing out new tables, just acquired in one section; a new sponsor sign, displaying a new marketing partner of the team; and he was quick to point out the electronics and other items that are currently missing or winterized for the chilly months approaching.
He not only spotted all of these details, but explained the off-season differences in the park, before mentioning that he can’t wait for the start of baseball season next year.
And with an employment training specialist providing support, every time Tom goes to the game, so does Skills.
Born in Huntington County with five brothers and two sisters, Tom has lived most of his life in Blair County, where he attends a Skills Adult Training Facility five days per week, when not working for the Curve.
There, he frequently serves in the role of D.J. for events like holiday parties and other celebrations. Tom has also been the D.J. for Curve events, spinning tunes at the stadium.
Tom enjoys camping, listening to all types of music and drinking a beer from time to time. Tom has taken advantage of the employment services offered by Skills to achieve job security, and earn a paycheck with a fulfilling career.
But, perhaps even more important, Tom lives a life that validates the mission statement of the non-profit Skills of Central PA organization: Skills is committed to providing choices that promote independence and enhance all aspects of the lives of people who need our support at home, at work, and in the community.