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 Thursday, August 22, 1991




Tri-County celebrates past and present

Eight honored in Hall of Fame ceremony; Stahley's Angels get top 1991 awards.

Of The Morning Call

Stahley's Angels celebrated the present and the Tri-County League also celebrated its past Saturday night at the league's annual post- season banquet and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in the West End Youth Center.

A large contingent from Stahley's, this year's regular-season and post-season playoff titlists, happily accepted their championship hardware -- along with individual standouts from the past season -- before the league honored its second class of eight former greats and pioneers.

Joining last year's inaugural class are Frank "Frog" Williams, Chuck Frantz, Al Frick and George Bonekemper from the Modern Era (after 1964), along with Paul Snyder, Andrew Makarchuk Jr., Steve Schuster and the late Ervin Searfoss from the Original Era (pre- 1964).

A look at the inductees:

* Williams, a 12-year veteran with the Allentown A.A. (now Limeport), batted .292 for his career, including a .473 mark in 1975 and a .378 slate in 1981. "I always got Froggy after the players because I knew he'd shake them up," recalled Ish Fatzinger, Williams' former manager who was earlier named the league's Manager of the Year. "I'm glad to see the league still going strong, and that a lot of the old-timers are still playing. But some of you old-timers -- where are you Herby (Hemerly) -- may have a hard time getting into this thing (the Hall of Fame) because there's a lot of younger players coming along," quipped Williams in his acceptance remarks.

* Frantz, another member of those powerful Allentown A.A. teams of the mid-to-late 1970s, played for nine years and compiled a lifetime .303 average. He batted .338 in 1975 and 1976, and batted .329 in his final season. "He had a picture-perfect swing ... a real pure hitter," said Fatzinger in his introductory remarks. "He was the guy you wanted to see up at the plate when you needed a run in the last inning."

"I'm proud of this league every time I read the paper," Frantz said.

* Frick, who was unable to attend because of family commitments, spent his eight-year career with Perkasie as an infielder. He posted a career .394 batting average -- fourth-highest in league history -- and won back-to-back batting titles in 1973 and 1974 with averages of .531 and .526, respectively. Those are the second and third-highest single-season marks in league history behind Dick Siwak, who hit .532 for Quakertown in 1970.

* Bonekemper was in on the ground-floor at the start of three teams -- Green Lane, Boulder Valley and the present-day Upper Perk Chiefs. He was manager and general manager of the Chiefs when they won three titles in five years (1979-1980-1983), and earlier helped keep the league together when the circuit dipped to just two teams -- Green Lane and Salisbury -- in 1969. As he recalled at Saturday's gathering, his first experience in the league was truly memorable.

"They always said I could get the players, but that first year at Green Lane we were perfect -- 0-and-18," he said. "And when I went to that first practice, no one showed up ... I was told the players didn't like to practice, but they'd show up for the game.

"Well, the first game was up at Pfeifle Field in Bethlehem, and at 3 o'clock we had just six players. Somebody said the others would probably show up at the field, so we went up -- and found just one more waiting for us. I went into a saloon on Broad Street and asked for ball players, and got one volunteer -- but he couldn't get off the bar stool. I eventually wound up putting on a uniform so we could play, and we lost the first of our 18 games that year. And afterwards I said to myself, `if I'm going to stay with this, I'm going to find some players."'

* Schuster won the pitching award with Emmaus in 1952 and later was an umpire in both the Tri-County and the Blue Mountain Leagues until 1980. The one-time minor-league in the Philadelphia Athletics' chain was 7-0 in 1952 to help Emmaus capture the title with a 15-1 record.

* Makarchuk, who played professionally with Nazareth and Mahony City of the North Atlantic League in the late 1940s, went on to play for Hellertown's champions of 1958, 1959 and 1961.

* Snyder, a Pittsburgh Pirate minor-leaguer back in the 1920s, managed Trumbauersville during the league's first season back in 1950, but is better remembered as the league's treasurer for 27 years.

"He was Paul `Ebenezer Scrooge' Snyder, and if anyone could watch money, he could," said an animated and boisterous Bob Ravier, a past- secretary. "One time I filled in for him for a while and was off about 10 cents, and he chewed me out for a long, long time over that. He is the granddaddy of the Tri-County League, and as far as I'm concerned, he's a legend."

Snyder, confined to a wheelchair, was accompanied by his son, Paul Jr., to accept his award.

* Finally, Searfoss, who passed away in Nov., 1987, was posthumously honored for his 25 years of service as the league's president.

"If his 25 years were anything like my first four, I don't know how the hell he did it," said current president Jack Evans, who presented the plaque to Searfoss' widow, Elva.

* Several future Hall-of-Famers could be among the five individuals honored for their performances this season.

Gilbertsville's Jeff Evans, whose career average of .416 is third- highest in history, walked off with the Most Valuable Player award for the second straight year. The Ranger outfielder was among the league-leaders in nearly every offensive category, batting .471 (fourth) with 9 home runs (second) and a league-leading 40 RBI. Evans' bat also produced a league-leading 78 total bases and an .897 slugging average as well as 41 hits (third) and 10 doubles (fifth). He also set a league mark with 43 runs scored.

Ray Ganser, the Angels' player/coach who has 58 career victories and a career 2.91 ERA, added to his career record strikeout total with a league-high 79, giving him 458 in his career. He was 9-1 with a 2.36 ERA this year for the newly-crowned champions.

Fatzinger, who just concluded his 17th year as a player and manager in the league, was cited for leading Limeport back among the Tri-Co elite. Limeport was 12-15 a year ago but bounced back to finish 20-9 this season, forcing Stahley's into a one-game showdown for the Northern Division title before shining in the playoffs. Limeport swept Upper Perk and Southern champ Gilbertsville to reach the finals, then took the Angels to a decisive third game and was tied in the fifth inning before Stahley's scored the clinching runs in the sixth.

The 50-something Fatzinger also chipped in with a .295 average in 44 at-bats, and finished one hit shy of becoming the 11th player to accumulate 300 career hits.

Stahley's Dave Lutte won the home-run title with a record-tying 11, matching his own total in 1989 and that of Mike Kotkowski of Silver Creek in 1988. Lutte carries a career mark of .346 and is sixth on the home-run list with 36.

The other batting trophy went to Silver Creek's Chris Rios, who won the batting title with a .514 (37-for-72) average -- fourth-best in league history. Teammates Steve Smull (.500) and Matt Smull (.482) were second and third, respectively, while Dave Hartranft (.438) gave the Raiders four of the league's top seven hitters.

Finally, Gilbertsville's Chris Ludy was named the Most Valuable Pitcher after a sensational 10-0 year. Ludy, who worked 68 innings, was fourth in ERA at 2.24, behind Quakertown's Bob Drumbore (1.51), Limeport's Chris Arnold (1.72) and Upper Perk's Tim Fox (2.02).


From The Morning Call -- August 22, 1991

Copyright 1991, The Morning Call