The young girl's lack of baseball knowledge and Marcus Hook history, though, did not matter to Vernon, the 1946 and 1953 American League batting champion with the Washington Senators, one of five clubs he played for from 1939 to 1960. He dutifully inscribed his name in books and on sheets of paper handed to him Saturday by admirers who had come to the borough's eighth annual Fall Festival in Market Square Memorial Park.
There were hayrides, pony rides, arts and crafts, and performances by the Wissahickon Drive and Friends fiddle and banjo group on a pleasantly breezy afternoon.
The Knock Allan, an oil tanker sitting on a placid Delaware River at one of the docks, seemed to watch over the festivities.
People had come, however, to see the baseball old-timer - and to shop.
"I saw some stained-glass items I liked and might buy," said Shannon Breuer, public affairs manager for Sun Co. Inc., which abuts the park's south border. "Who knows? You just might find that perfect Christmas gift."
Or the perfect pony ride. "It's fun when you see kids enjoying themselves and interacting with the animals," said Marie O'Neill, a pony handler with Upland Stables in Philadelphia.
"A lot of kids haven't seen livestock in person," added O'Neill's son, Jason. "At first they get excited. Then they get scared. But they come around amd approach them and have fun."
A 3.5-acre grassy knoll between the refineries of Sun to the south and BP Oil Inc. to the north, Market Square Park has evolved from a half-acre tract of land that had decayed in the early 1980s to an airy, tree-lined plaza that hosts various outdoor summer concerts and fairs.
"They didn't have this when I was growing up," Vernon said admiringly. ''We used to swim in the river, but now land covers that."