Almost 'pure', and
tracking Gilbertsville again
Of The Morning Call
Upper Perkiomen Chiefs are the Ivory Snow of the Tri-County Baseball League.
Chiefs are almost 99 and 4/10ths pure - pure in the sense that every man on
the roster except Kevin Leamer is a proud native son of the Upper Perkiomen
Chiefs have harvested the bumper crops produced by the Upper Perkiomen high
school and legion programs in the past decade, resulting in a perennial
challenger for Tri-County honors.
"We're the team here," playing manager Bob Graber said. "There's nobody else
around, really. If you are from this area and you want to play baseball
you'd either have to go to Gilbertsville, Quakertown or Harleysville.
guys that want to keep playing stick around," Graber said. "We're all good
friends and it creates a real team unity. We've all grown up in the area,
we've had the same teachers and coaches at school and that gives us a common
level of play has really picked up the past 10 years or so," Graber said.
"That's helped us. Every year we add one or two guys from the legion program
to go with our veterans."
"old-timers" are outfielder Glenn Mensch and catcher Jon Yeakel.
"They've been around for 13 years at least," Graber said. "They do a great
job yet. They are enthusiastic. They want to play and they always help out."
heart and soul of the Chiefs are names area fans have followed in football,
basketball and baseball for the Upper Perk Indians. Names like Tim Fox, Matt
Duka, Tom Cichocki, Mike Svanson, Pete Hoff, Joe Ricapito, Bruce Blank and
Graber, who plays outfield and pitches, has been the manager for the past
on-the-field stuff is fun," Graber said. "It's all the paper work that gets
tiresome. It would be a lot easier if someone would just manage the team,
but we don't have anyone like that, so I just try to do the best I can.
Everyone understands the situation and co- operates."
Chiefs were regular season champs in 1983 and this current crew is
threatening to break into the 20-win column before long.
"This is a good bunch," Graber said. "All three years I've been managing
I've felt we could have done a better job. We've had some bad streaks each
year where we've lost a couple in a row and Gilbertsville doesn't give up.
They really put the pressure on you."
yes, Gilbertsville. The dynasty of the Tri-County League always seems to be
just one step ahead of the Chiefs.
seems like every year Gilbertsville and us are 1-2. That means every game
with them is big. You want to beat the top team and it seems like every game
with them is a one-run decision. Both teams have good pitching and both have
good hitting. The hitting has been off-setting that good pitching lately."
Graber has a healthy respect for the entire Gilbertsville team. In fact, he
considers many of the players on his archrivals good friends.
"I've joined with them for the York Labor Day tourney the past four years,"
Graber said. "I got to know them pretty well because you're with them for an
entire weekend and we play them a bunch of times during the season.
are friends, but when you meet on the field you still want to win bad,"
Graber ran into an interesting situation last week while nursing a two-run
lead with two outs in the last inning. He served up a screaming line drive
homer to Gilbertsville's Jeff Evans that tied the game. The blow was erased
from the books, though, when the umpires called the game off because of
darkness two batters later.
"Jeff's a real friend," Graber said. "And, I had always had good luck
against him until then. I am going to find a way to dig him about the way
that one turned out."
Chiefs were 16-5 entering the stretch drive of the regular season and Graber
said it's been a team effort all the way.
Cichocki (3B) has been our No. 1 hitter this season,"Graber said. "Matt Duka
(2B) has supplied most of the power. He's had four homers."
Svanson, the regular catcher, is one of the top hitters. He splits time with
the Quakertown Blazers in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League.
Swenk (CF) and Pete Hoff (SS) have been hot lately.
Fox, 4-0, is the team's ace.
"He's the guy we go to in the big games that we have to win," Graber said.
"He's had some problems the last few weeks, though. He's had a blister
that's made it tough to pitch. We're looking for him to be there down the
Bruce Blank is another key starter. Graber has seen spot duty as both a
starter and reliever.
Chris Fluck, the team's only lefty, has been a pleasant surprise.
came out and got some early wins,"Graber said. "He has been strong for about
four innings andthen he's struggled a bit, even though he didn't get credit
for the wins. He was keeping us in games and then we could go to the
bullpen. He's been a surprise."
fact that UP is a title contender again is no surprise at all.
we can win all our games down the stretch we'll have a shot," Graber said.
"It's going to be tough for us, but we still have hope."
Chiefs have solid backing from the community.
"I can't say enough about our fans," Graber said. "They are behind us just
about every game. We really pack them in for some games. It's good to see
because we need the support. I think they have a good time following us."
From The Morning Call --
July 23, 1987
The Morning Call