Bob Graber can't complain to
Of The Morning Call
Graber's got no one to complain to if he doesn't see his name penciled into
the starting lineup.
23-year old pitcher/third baseman, a former Kutztown University baseball
player, can't go off and complain to the manager - he is the manager.
Graber is in his first year managing Upper Perkiomen's Tri-County League
team, and if experts will tell you a youngster doesn't really know how to
manage, Graber will be more than happy to give them a look-see at what they
Graber has piloted his crew, one of the younger teams in the traditionally
competitive Tri-County league, to a 18-4 record as of last Wednesday. Upper
Perk had a game lead over rival Gilbertsville after a bitter 4-2 loss two
weeks ago, with the rest of the division lagging far behind.
kind of got handed down to me," Graber explained of his managerial duties.
"Bill Sullivan, the previous manager, left for the fact that he was just
moving on with life. He didn't want to get out of baseball, but he didn't
want to be tied down either."
year, Upper Perk ended up tied for first place in their division, but lost a
possible spot in the league playoffs after losing a special one-game
divisional playoff to Gilbertsville.
pitching has been our No. 1 strength," Graber offered of his team's splendid
success thus far. "We've got a fine staff, all right-handers."
Craig Kriebel comes on as the ace of the staff. The mound wizard has a 7-0
record with a mighty tough ERA of just 1.2. He has also registered 56
strikeouts in 41 innings, and mixes a sharp assortment of curves with his
fastball to keep opposing batters off-balance. Kriebel is also 23-years-old.
has tossed three one-hitters in a row and had a streak of 28 scoreless
Fox, a 20-year-old, boasts a fine 5-3 record, while Perry Sweatt, the
grandfather of the staff (actually, he's in his mid-20's), is 3-0. Graber is
carrying a 2-1 record and Todd Swenk is 1-0.
"Actually," Graber declared, "we've got five capable starters. The team ERA
is under 2 at something like 1.98."
While Graber points to the mound staff as the key, the team's offense hasn't
been hiding from the headlines, either. Despite a lack of real power hitting
(no one's got more than three home runs), the team really knows how to slap
the ball around.
"Everybody has really done a good job, and from my standpoint, it's really
been easy," Graber noted. "We've been averaging around eight runs a game."
top hitter on the club is Swenk, who is also one of the team's best
outfielders. Swenk is batting a very impressive .404 while Tom Cichocki, a
legion player who shares duties at third, is next, hitting .385.
Hoff, the team's shortstop, has a hefty .381 average and Graber is clicking
with a fine .373 performance. Part-timer Jim Stratton, who plays in the
outfield, has a .417 average, but that is with a minimum number of plate
Graber noted that the team's lineup is hardly ever the same, but detailed
some of Upper Perk's depth. Joe Ricapito is at first, and is backed up by
the squad's only out-of-area player, Keith Leamer (he's from Quakertown).
Hitchens is at second, followed by Biz Keeny, and Hoff is at short. Graber
shares time at third with Cichocki (when Tom's not playing legion ball) and
Jon Yeakel is behind the plate, along with another legion player, Mike
outfield consists of Glen Mensch, Swenk, Jim Stratton, Kevin Stahl, Greg
Saylor, Kurt Werkheiser and Lon McFarland.
Designated hitter Mike Buck is a pretty instrumental part of the team and
Matt Duka, yet another legion player, has shown up from time to time to also
a whole, everybody has contributed," offered Graber. "The pressure has never
been on just one person. Everyone has come up with their own big hits.
squad varies in age from the 17-year-old legion players to Mensch, who is
around the 30-mark. "I'd say it's a fairly young team," Graber concluded.
"It's hard to find many things wrong when you're 18-4 and play consistently
all year long," the young manager observed.
for Graber, this is one case where the old baseball axiom is certainly true.
If he's not penciled into the lineup, it's his own fault.
From The Morning Call --
July 25, 1985
The Morning Call