Today, the State College Spikes are proud to mark the culmination of 2022’s Black History Month by announcing that on Friday, July 29, fans can join in honoring a football pioneer who gave a unifying voice to Happy Valley and made a significant impact on the athletic landscape with a
Today, the State College Spikes are proud to mark the culmination of 2022’s Black History Month by announcing that on Friday, July 29, fans can join in honoring a football pioneer who gave a unifying voice to Happy Valley and made a significant impact on the athletic landscape with a Wally Triplett “We Are” Talking Bobblehead Giveaway.
The bobblehead, crafted in consultation with Triplett’s family, will go to the first 1,000 fans of all ages at that night’s 6:35 p.m. game against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. In addition to featuring the legendary back in a pose reminiscent of his performance in the 1948 Cotton Bowl, which gave rise to the use of “We Are” as a unifying cry across Nittany Nation, the bobblehead will feature a button that will play “We Are” whenever pressed.
Triplett and teammate Dennie Hoggard became the first African-American players to participate in the Cotton Bowl after initially being asked to stay home from the game in then-segregated Dallas. Triplett’s teammates, led by captain Steve Suhey, resisted this request and insisted that every team member would be on the field for the game, stating “We are Penn State. There will be no meetings.”
Triplett, who was elected to the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame in 2018, went on to haul in a third-quarter touchdown reception that enabled Penn State to play SMU to a 13-13 tie.
In addition to his groundbreaking efforts in the college game, Triplett became the first African-American player to be drafted and play for an NFL team when he took the field for the Detroit Lions after being selected in the 19th round of the 1949 NFL Draft. He played four years in the NFL for the Lions and Chicago Cardinals, and set the Lions’ single-game kickoff return yardage record with 294 yards in a 1950 game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Triplett then became the first NFL player drafted into the military for the Korean War and served two years with the 594th Field Artillery Battalion of the United States Army.
“All of us at the Spikes are honored to celebrate a trailblazer who transcended sports and made his mark on our entire culture in Wally Triplett,” said Spikes President & General Manager Scott Walker. “Wally Triplett truly personified the spirit of ‘We Are’ in every way, and we look forward to joining with the Happy Valley community to celebrate his legacy together at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park this season.”
“We are excited to see my grandfather's legacy recognized by the State College Spikes this summer,” said Ayanna McConnell, granddaughter of Wally Triplett. “He was a humble and resilient man who paved the way for generations of athletes in college sports and the NFL. Although he began his family and professional life in Detroit, Grandpa Wally's heart remained attached to Happy Valley.”
The July 29 festivities will also include a fantastic post-game FIREWORKS show that will light up the skies over Happy Valley. More fireworks shows for the 2022 season will be announced by the Spikes soon.
Fans can make their plans to join the celebration on July 29, as well as every moment of the Spikes’ biggest regular season ever, featuring 40 home games on the 2022 MLB Draft League schedule, with Spikes Season Ticket Memberships and Flex Books. Season Ticket Members get the same great seats for every Spikes home game, plus enjoy special amenities like access to exclusive Extra Innings Club events at the ballpark. Spikes Flex Books feature 12 undated ticket vouchers for the price of 10 to allow for maximum flexibility to fit any fan’s needs.
To purchase a Season Ticket Membership or a Flex Book, call a Spikes ticket representative at (814) 272-1711 or log on to StateCollegeSpikes.com. More information on the MLB Draft League is available at MLBDraftLeague.com. The Spikes’ 2022 schedule PDF is available for download at this link, and more team and ticket information is available at StateCollegeSpikes.com.