"Only in the Pub"
Summer 2013 . . . Entries Now Complete
A Feather in Wilt's Track Cap . . .
Check out the picture that accompanies this entry. Yes, that's Wilt Chamberlain wearing a jeff cap while winning the high jump, at Franklin Field, in the 1955 Public League championship meet. First, it's hard to imagine any other athlete would have been brassy enough to try such a stunt, and it's also difficult to picture anyone else getting away with it. Plus, how did he DO that? How did the hat not come flying off? Did he somehow attach it to his head? There's no mention in the story about how the whole scenario unfolded. Did he wear the hat each time he jumped? Just that once? Was it his? Did someone provide it, and dare him to wear it? Anyway, it was VERY cool.
Ted's note: Many folks know about Wilt's assorted feats in basketball. How he scored 71, 74 and 90 points in high school games. How he rang up 100 against the Knicks one night in the NBA. How he averaged 50.4 points in the 1961-62 season. But, please, look again at the caption. Wilt also won the shot put (bottom pic; partially cut off) in that championship meet. Take a deep breath and soak that in for a moment . . . This young man was athletic enough and strong enough to win the high jump (6-1) and shot put (46-10 1/2) in the SAME meet!!! There's no way we would ever see this now. NO WAY! How many high-jumpers would even attempt to compete in the shot put? How many shot-putters can even get, say, 12 inches off the ground? I really have to wonder . . . Was this feat by Wilt more impressive than anything he did on a basketball court?
Dancin’ on Hardwood . . .
Anyone out there remember a TV show called "Dancin' on Air"? If so, you're no longer young. It was a a dance show (surprise, surprise), co-hosted by Eddie Bruce and Bill O'Brien, that was aired from 4 to 5 p.m., every Monday to Friday, on WPHL-TV (Channel 17) from the early '80s to mid-'90s. By now you're probably muttering, "What could this post possibly have to do with Pub sports?" Wellllll . . . One of the stars -- as in, one of the kids who danced -- was a basketball player from William Penn named Eric Horsey. His nickname was "Mr. Tuxedo" because he ALWAYS wore one on the show. In early December '82, when Penn played a non-league game at West Philly, Eric was standing at the foul line, ready to fire away, when a female fan yelled, "Hey, Mr. Tuxedo! Who taught you how to shoot fouls, Eddie Bruce?" About a month later, two days after a Pub opener, I wrote a pretty big story about Horsey, a 6-1 junior forward. Against Bartram, he'd contributed six points and 12 rebounds in a 69-64 win. The previous day, wearing his favorite tuxedo, a burgundy number replete with ''Mr. Tuxedo" stitched in pink over his heart, Horsey appeared on ''Dancin' on Air" after receiving permission to miss practice from coach Bernie Handler. Horsey first appeared on the show, as a regular dancer, the previous September. "I wore regular clothes the first day and (a producer) said, 'You said you have lots of tuxedos. Why don't you wear one? ' So, I wore a tux one day and the next day and the day after that and somebody asked me, 'When you gonna run out of tuxes? ' I told him, 'You'll have to wait for a while.' " Horsey soon was ordering his personalized tuxedo, expanding his collection to "something like 37. Also, mail started arriving at the station -- remember, this was WAY before social media -- addressed simply to Mr. Tuxedo. "I have 79 letters," Eric said. "After basketball started, and I wasn't on the show very often, I got nine from fans who wanted to know what had happened to Mr. Tuxedo."
Ted's note: So, why did Eric Horsey have so many tuxedos? At age 13, he formed a dance group, the Philadelphia Floortakers. The group numbered eight by '83 and had earned such acclaim, six male members flew to Houston on New Year's Eve to perform a half-hour show. "It started with me," Eric said, "and a little kid (Vincent Harrison, then 13) who lives three doors away. We were performing at a bar and I went to do the thing where I kick the top hat onto my head. It didn't quite work. The hat hit some lady sitting at the bar and she wound up knocking over her drink. We tore out of that place. We were scared they were going to whip us or something. We didn't even wait to get paid." By '83, the Floortakers were performing their soft-shoe routine (Eric: "I got most of the ideas from watching old Fred Astaire movies") at wedding receptions, nightclubs, discos, cabarets and even halftime of Sixers' games. As our interview wound down, Eric said, "I'm thinking of having somebody make me a warm-up suit that looks like a tux. What do you think?" If memory serves, he never followed through.
George Baker, Quite the Three-Maker . . .
What were the chances? Well, with a Pub guy involved, they were higher than normal (smile). On Feb. 5, 2008, the city record for three-point baskets in one game was raised to 13. The guy who accomplished that feat was Edison's George Baker. Get it? Baker hit a baker's dozen! In an 89-71 win at King, Baker sniped 13-for-21 from beyond the arc. His by-quarter breakdown: two, three, two and six. Overall, he shot 17-for-27 en route to 48 points, five short of Steve Martin's 2005 school record, but went just 1-for-5 at the line. He added four rebounds, two steals and one assist (can't have everything), and a 14th trey went halfway down before popping out. "With 4 1/2 minutes left, our scorekeeper was saying I had eight," Baker said. "That shocked me, but I knew about the record being 11, so I thought maybe there was a shot. Nobody gave me the game ball, or anything, but everybody was excited." In unorthodox style, Baker had been an accomplished mad bomber since making varsity as a freshman. He barely got off the floor on his jumper, but compensated with an incredibly quick release. "By the end of the first quarter, I was feelin' it," he said. "I couldn't wait to get the ball again and my guys were feeding me nice. But when I messed up at the line [1-for-4] in the second quarter, I wasn't even thinking about threes. I spent the halftime break shooting nothing but foul shots. Not one other kind of shot."
Ted's note: Here's hoping you're ready for Part II of Crazy Threevelopments. Just a few weeks earlier, Edison's Luis Martinez hit 10 three-pointers to tie the city record (then owned by Strawberry Mansion all-timer Maureece "The Scorelord" Rice, but was outdone in another gym THAT VERY SAME DAY by Math, Civics and Sciences' Eric Johnson, who hit 11! Johnson, a 5-11, 150-pound senior guard, shot 11-for-16 on threes en route to 35 points as MC&S routed Maritime Academy Charter, 101-42, in a non-league game at the Columbia North YMCA, Broad and Master. Said Johnson: "I live at 16th and Master. That's my gym. I can roll out of bed and get there. In our last game against Delaware Valley, I went scoreless for the first time in my 3 years of varsity. I had a chip on my shoulder. The shots were just dropping in. I was moving around, and they couldn't find me." Added coach Danny Jackson: "Eric had four threes in the first quarter, and my assistant, Lonnie Diggs, said we might have to really get him into the swing of it. He did all his scoring in the first three quarters, then we took him out. He couldn't believe he had the record. I can't say he was that excited, though, because he knew the opposition was kind of weak."
In the Heat of the Day . . .
OK, let's jump ahead to wintertime and pretend we're in Canada. Two hockey teams are meeting in a championship game, but there is absolutely no heat in the arena. It's fr-fr-freezing. Do you think the game gets postponed? Didn't think so. Ah, but in the 2011 baseball season in Philly, in that league where the head-scratching things always happen . . .
Every so often, "Only in the Pub" moments feature delicious irony.
Take yesterday, for instance, when the first Public League baseball final slated to feature only Hispanic players was postponed because of excessive heat/humidity concerns.
"Tell me about it," said Frankford coach Juan Namnun, who is of Dominican descent. "All our kids are joking about that. They're all saying, 'Coach, it's not that hot. ' We would have been ready."
Frankford and Thomas Edison will meet today, 12:30, at Ashburn Field in South Philly's FDR Park. Yesterday's game was set for 3:30, and the decision to postpone was not made until a shade before 2:30. Spectators and even umpires were showing up at Ashburn, only to be turned away.
Frankford's School District bus was on Delaware Avenue, no more than 10 minutes from the field, when Namnun received the call to turn around.
Edison coach Matt Fischer said his team's bus was just arriving at Edison , roughly an hour late, when he accepted the forget-it notification.
"Our kids are so deflated right now," he said at 3 o'clock.
Added Namnun : "It's going to be very hard to get up for a championship game 2 straight days."
Robert Coleman, the Pub's sports czar, said that an announcement to close Philly's schools was made at 1:30, and that his original intention was to play the game.
"That changed," he added, "because we came to have lots of concern about the kids' safety, especially with the forecast calling for violent thunderstorms. And wasn't there a tornado warning?"
Edison's bus miseries, he insisted, played no role in the rethinking. It's doubtful the Owls would have arrived much before 3:15.
"It's tough to be told again and again that the game is on, then get the word, 'No, it's off,' " Namnun said.
Ted's note: Too hot to play a baseball game involving only guys from countries where outrageous temps are routine? A classic! Namnun still laughs about that one. Frankford won, 5-4, and the postponement definitely helped. Edison's Nate Coronado, a pitcher-shortstop who wound up being the DN's Player of the Year, crushed two balls to left into the teeth of a very strong wind. One day earlier, he almost certainly would have had two homers worth six RBI! Instead, one ball was dropped for a sac fly/E-7 combo and the other was caught. Though the tornado warning did include eastern Pennsylvania, Hurricane Schwartz must have issued it. The T's hit Massachusetts and Maine. Not exactly around the corner.
Creating a Foul Mood . . .
For Part II of Scoring Table Snafus Involving Mastbaum's Basketball Team (see Aug. 20) we jump ahead to March 1981 and a vintage quarterfinal. This time, coach Ralph "Bones" Schneider couldn't help but show anger. With 2:07 left in the third quarter, star point guard Timmy Brown incurred his fourth personal foul and Schneider, as you might imagine, waved a sub to the scorers' table. When Brown walked up to the table with 6:12 left in the game and tried to re-enter the game . . . Uh, oh! He was told the fourth foul had actually been his fifth! Even worse, both scorekeepers had Brown for five fouls, though no one had told Timmy or Bones. You know where we're going here, right? Mastbaum lost, 53-52. "I know Timmy Brown had four fouls," Schneider raged. "I would never make a mistake like that (allowing accumulation of four fouls) in the first half." Frankford coach Vince Miller countered, "Right or wrong, when your own book has five fouls, you don't have much of an argument."
Ted's note: Every so often, to this day, it's not uncommon for home scorers to try to schnooker the guy/gal from the visiting team. Did that happen here? Can't say for sure. If so, the Frankford person picked the right player because Timmy B (first team All-City in '82) was everything to 'Baum. This game was memorable for numerous reasons. The winning basket was an off-balance jumper, off a rebound of a teammate's missed free throw, by forward Ralph Lewis, a classic late bloomer (and wonderful kid!) who went on to play in the NBA. He earned a scholarship to La Salle AFTER he graduated thanks to his play that summer in the Sonny Hill League. Anyway, Lewis battled Ellison Huggins for possession along the baseline to the left of the basket and grabbed the ball, perhaps 12 feet away. Before rolling in, the shot by Lewis hit the far rim and curled back against the backboard. Had it all the way, right Ralphie, baby? "I was falling away from the basket, almost going out of bounds, so it wasn't a shot I would normally take," he said. "But with so little time remaining, I wasn't about to pass. When the ball left my hand, all I could do was stand there and watch. As the ball rattled around, I watched some more. That was one fantastic sight when the ball went in." Wait. There was more entertainment, thanks to the scoreboard operator. Screened by already-swarming fans, he failed to nail Frankford's side of the board with the last two points. Thus, a Mastbaum fan loudly spread the rumor that Lewis' follow must have been disallowed. Seeing that, Miller moved his 6-5 frame to the table and stopped the visitors' ill-advised celebration merely by raising his fist, a move that told the Frankford players and fans, "Don't believe it! This game is ours!"
Uhl Enjoy This One . . .
The day after a boys' high school basketball game, not too often does a girl's name appear in a prominent spot in the story. But in December 1980, after Mastbaum toughed out a 73-67 win over visiting West Philadelphia, Cathy Uhl became semi-famous thanks to the Daily News. Wow, did she somehow play for Mastbaum? Nope, but she did, in effect, score minus-one point for coach Ralph "Bones" Schneider's Panthers. The rule then (and it's still that way) is that the home team's scorebook is official. After Schneider called time with 2:18 left, Uhl cross-checked her scorebook and told the scoreboard operator to take one point AWAY from The 'Baum. Luckily, a 'Baum did not go off. Everything considered, Schneider stayed calm. He raised his voice a little and frowned a lot, but there was no big argument. "That was one of the reasons we won," said junior forward Darren Keith, who contributed 18 points and 19 rebounds. "If Mr. Schneider had really put up a stink and caused a long delay, our minds would not have been on the game when we went back out on the court. It happened and he was upset, just like all of us, but he didn't prolong things. Three points or two points. It still wasn't much of a lead and we had to buckle down and protect it."
Ted's note: After the game, as was his habit, Bones took the sunny approach. "Like playing West Philly isn't bad enough," he cracked. "We need every point we can get . . . or every point we're supposed to have. We don't pay people to keep score and we usually wind up with students doing their best to help us out. They're not experts. Tomorrow, however, I do plan to go over some of the finer points of keeping score with her." . . . In a future post -- hey, maybe even as early as tomorrow -- we'll revisit another wacky moment involving Mastbaum and scorebooks.
Talk About Making Your Marc . . .
Veterans Stadium opened in 1971, and by mid-June of '94 seven guys had mashed home runs into the upper deck beyond right field. Then, the Pub -- just its luck -- met Ocean-Monmouth (the team is now called Jersey Shore) in the first round of the Carpenter Cup and Marc Fink joined the club. Fink, having just graduated from Jackson Memorial High (near Great Adventure) and been selected by the Brewers in the 14th round of the draft, launched a three-run, first-inning homer into the 500 level. Specifically, the ball clanged off a seat in section 502, just to the right of the middle of the second row. Close to where the ball hit, on the cement above an exit in section 601, was a gold-and-white star with an "S" in the middle. It commemorated the monstrous homer hit by the Pittsburgh Pirates' Willie Stargell off Phillies righthander Jim Bunning in 1971. Based on information concerning the ball's trajectory and landing point, Phillies publicist Larry Shenk and his assistant, Jay McLaughlin, figured that the homer traveled 425 feet.
Ted's note: . . . But Fink wasn't finished making the Pub's day difficult. Ocean-Monmouth batted around in that first inning and Fink again strolled to the plate with two guys on base. Boom! He crushed another homer, this one to dead centerfield. It landed in the first row of section 268, right above the top of the black backdrop. The ball sailed over the fence roughly five feet to the right of the 408-foot sign. Shenk/McLaughlin pegged that one at 436 foot. Incredible. Homers totaling 861 feet by ONE guy in the SAME inning! "Before the game, I was saying to a couple guys that I was going to hit that star," Fink said. "I was only joking around," he quickly added. Fink had two more at-bats. He smoked a single to right, then drove a ball to deep left-center. Olney centerfielder Jose Caraballo made the catch about 10 feet in front of the warning track. Thus, Fink finished 3-for-4 with six RBI. The victim both times was no lollipop thrower. It was Northeast righthander Justin Ertel, a first-team Daily News All-City selection. "I have to commend the guy," Ertel said. "When a guy hits two balls like that off you, you have to appreciate that the guy can flat-out hit. Obviously, you don't want them hit against you, but . . . I guess I threw meat to him twice." After Fink cracked his second homer, I called the office from the phone in the press box and mentioned what had happened to one of the editors. He agreed that we should focus on Fink's amazing feat (even though O-C is not exactly in the Daily News coverage area) and that was what happened. The guys even published a stadium chart with arrows showing where the balls hit, and the headline on the story read "A Blasting Impression." Fink played seven seasons of pro ball, but four were in independent leagues and he never advanced past Class A in "regular" ball. He hit exactly 50 homers. Wonder if he remembers any of those as well as the two he clobbered at the Vet?
The Other End of the Forfeit Scale . . .
Pretty much once a school year, and often much more, teams in the assorted Pub sports are charged with forfeits for using ineligible players. Almost always, the player is in his fifth year of high school and/or already 19 years old. But in 2009, World Communications Charter provided a breath of fresh (but crazy!) air. One of coach Kenyatta McKinney's players -- for a while, anyway -- was Ichywond Savage, who happened to be a 14-year-old eighth-grader. In all, the Stallions forfeited four games -- league tilts to Mastery North, New Media and GAMP, and a tournament contest to Esperanza. McKinney thought Savage, a 6-2 small forward with strength and toughness, was eligible for varsity competition merely because he attended the school (it started with sixth grade). Though PIAA rules allowed the use of eighth-graders, in certain circumstances, they must have turned 15 before July 1 of that school year. I did not receive World Comm's roster until Jan. 10, but at that point I advised McKinney to crosscheck Savage's eligibility. That roster had been provided to Pub officials on Dec. 2, with Savage listed as an eighth-grader. Did they notice, or even bother to look at it? "It's not our responsibility to check the eligibility of players on the roster," said Robert Coleman, the director of Pub sports. "The coach and principal signed it. They're supposed to know the rules."
Ted's note: Thankfully, the Pub decided to not hold the violation against Savage. So, he wound up playing five years of varsity ball at World Comm. His career produced 336 points with a high of 117 in 10th grade. He was serviceable, but never blossomed into a star. The story about Savage's situation appeared on Jan. 27. Also in the news around that time: Sayre's Kelvin Johnson punched out his coach and Hope Charter coach Gary Hines refused to leave the gym after being thrown out of a game. By PIAA rule, he missed the next game. "From the reports I received, my thinking was to suspend Gary for another game, just to drive home the point that such conduct is unacceptable," Coleman said. "That thought has been dropped. Not everyone showed up to our meeting. He has received a stern warning."
Unpadding the Record . . .
Not too many high school football coaches stay around long enough to notch 100 wins. And then . . . there was Roxborough's Cliff Hubbard. He captured No. 100 in October of 1991, then corralled that sucker again on Nov. 8. Huh? It can all be traced to Only in the Pubness. In each season from 1985 to '87, when the Pub alignment featured three divisions based on geography, Roxborough (like all other teams in the Mid-City Division) was awarded a forfeit win over William Penn, which, brace yourself, DID NOT EVEN HAVE A TEAM! After beating Southern, the Indians held a small celebration to honor Hubbard (he's still around as an assistant at Fels) for No. 100. After giving it some thought, Cliff decided it was kind of cheap to include those forfeit wins over a non-team, so the Nov. 8 win over Central became the biggie. As the game wound down, Hubbard said he looked at two-way tackle James Tyler and thought, "Why's he holding that ice? . . . Then I got it." Yup, he was doused.
Ted's note: As for the explanation of those forfeits . . . Penn dropped football after the '84 season. At the time all three divisions had seven teams. When the Lions faded away, the Mid-City, of course, was left with six teams. The league's one wild-card spot went to the second-place team with the best league record. Pub honchos decided to give the Mid-City squads forfeit wins over the ghost of Penn's squad to make things even. Didn't help. From '85 to '87, no Mid-City teams were able to parlay the freebie into a wild card spot. The league switched to four divisions for '88 and expanded the playoffs to eight teams. Meanwhile, imagine being a 1988 Penn grad. You're talking about high school football with a buddy and he says, "How'd your school do when you were there?" And you uncork this beauty. "Well, we went 0-18 in Pub play my last three years, and we didn't even have a team!" Pubness personified!
The Andy Reid School of Timeout Management? Nope . . .
The year was 1979. The site was Northeast's Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium. The occasion was a Pub football semifinal. The late-game scenario? Here we go . . . With 1:14 remaining, the score was 0-0 and Central was stationed at West's 14 after Steve Lewis earned a first down with a 10-yard run. After Robert Crawford was tackled for a two-yard loss, West coach Bill Clausen called time at 0:42. And after Lewis was tackled for a three-yard loss, Clausen called time at 0:29. And after Lewis was tackled for zilch off a screen pass from Dave Wasson, Clausen called time at 0:13. Then, with only six seconds remaining, Lewis completed a 19-yard TD run on a left-to-right reverse and Central owned a 6-0 win. Crazy, right? Bill Clausen GAVE that game away, right? Not at all. In fact, he handled the situation in perfect fashion. Keep reading to find out why . . .
Ted's note: In '79, the archaic system used forever to determine a winner in playoffs that end in ties was still in place. If your team had more total scrimmage yardage, you "earned" the W. Heading into that last stretch, Clausen knew Central was far ahead on yardage despite the 0-0 score. "We gambled in hopes of stopping them and maybe getting a fumble and having a shot at something," he said. "Now, I guess I would've rather had the score 0-0. It was my decision to call timeouts. We came here to win, not to come in second." The final yardage breakdown was 226-80 (on twice as many plays for Central), but until that last series, West's defense kept coming up with big plays to keep the Lancers in donut territory. Blaine Giddings (two), Eldridge Comer, Roy Carter and Michael "Junior" Johnson combined for five interceptions. Also, John Brennan registered five tackles behind the line and Thomas Butler got two straight on the plays before the no-gain screen. "Our kids were able to do things defensively we've never had kids do," Clausen praised. "We didn't even have calls pre-determined. The kids were recognizing Central's sets and moving, doing something different, for each one. They have about seven sets. Our kids did it very, very well. I'm very proud of them." By the way, though the rule was changed shortly thereafter, the Pub's first OT game wasn't played until '94. In a quarterfinal, Washington edged Bok, 14-8. Bok failed on four plays to start the extra session, then Julian Jones ran four yards for his second TD. Also in '79, in a Catholic League semi, Judge claimed a yardage win after playing Wood to a 15-15 tie. The CL's first OT game occurred two years later, when O'Hara beat Roman, 9-6. Regulation ended 3-3. If I remember correctly, back then OT possessions began on the 25-yard line (instead of the current 10).
Talk About an Unlucky 13th Assist . . .
In a wild and crazy basketball semi, played at the now-gone Civic Center (nee Convention Hall) in 1991, Franklin Learning Center's Karriem Parker dished 12 assists in a 71-70 win over Southern. He almost added one more and it would have been the worst of his life. Here's what happened: After star big man Faron "Meatball" Hand notched a three-point play on a pass from Parker with seven seconds remaining, Southern's Clayton Howard took the ball out of bounds as the other Rams set up in a giant- sized box. Jeff Myers broke long and appeared open for a fleeting moment. But, as Myers caught the pass about a stride over midcourt, Hand appeared out of nowhere and ripped the ball from Myers' hands. He then gave it to Parker, who placed it on the floor and began to hoot and holler. One problem: There was still time on the clock. Southern all-timer Kareem "Rab" Townes (29 points, 1,348 for career) picked up the ball, launched it toward the bucket and . . . ohhhhhh! He came VERY close (maybe six inches to the left) on a 60-footer. "I thought the game was over," Parker said, sheepishly. "I thought the clock was done. I was like, 'All right, we win. I'm good to go.' " Said coach Pete Merlino: "From where I stood, Kareem's shot looked good." And this was the final comment from Parker: "That goes in, I've got a gun to my head."
Ted's note: As the buzzer sounded, a bunch of Southern fans stormed the court and began a riot that lasted 10 minutes. At first, it appeared they were angered by the call that had given Hand his chance at a three-point play. Partially, yes. You won't believe what happened as the disturbance continued, though. Southern rooters from one side of Broad Street fought guys from the other side! The east guys thought the west guys had been sellouts, and vice versa. They threw folding chairs (regular and the much heavier padded version) at each other, and into the stands, while also overturning a bunch of courtside tables across from the team benches. All but one table, actually. The unturned table was the one where I'd been sitting during the game. Right next to my ever-famous statman, Thomas "Hockey Puck" McKenna. I didn't see much of the riot, having headed to FLC's locker room to interview Parker, Merlino, etc. When I returned, a few guys ran up to me and delivered this message. "You won't believe this! During the riot, Puck just stayed at the table and added up his stats. Everything was going crazy right around him and he didn't even notice! He just sat there going, 'So-and-so had whatevah point, whatevah weebound . . . ' It was like he was in here by himself!" Only in the Puck! (smile)
When Really Needed, Hopkins Was Game . . .
Paul Hopkins filled a part-time role for Franklin's baseball team in 1982, then played nary a game in '83 when the Electrons seized the championship. In '84, as Franklin prepared for a quarterfinal with Lincoln, Hopkins was not expecting to raise his season's game total to two. But then, he was approached by coach Jerry Kleger . . . "I came into school this morning and (Kleger) told me he was short on infielders because Orlando Ortiz had broken his finger over the weekend," Hopkins said. "He asked me if I could come to the game and play shortstop, and I told him I thought it would be all right." Then, Hopkins did play. Though he misplayed two grounders, he also posted two hits and two RBI -- he drew a walkoff walk to win it -- as Franklin scrambled to an 8-7 win in a rollicking, back-and-forth game that would have done the Phillies-Astros 1980 NL Championship Series proud. So, why did Hopkins pretty much disappear after showing promise as a soph? He was part of a work study program at Smith, Kline and Beckman, located within a sac fly of Franklin, and his daily hours were 1:30 to 4:30. So much for baseball . . .
Ted's note: Hopkins, who ranked 16th in his class and was scheduled to attend Penn State, delivered/filed classified data, confidential reports and personnel dossiers. After Kleger asked him to ditch work, Hopkins said he called the company "and left a message. No, I didn't give a specific reason, but they let you take off a certain amount of hours and I even have some vacation time coming." Kleger added, "The other time we called on him this year was against Frankford. We had a losing record and we needed a lift. He has a very sure glove, although you didn't see it today on our Rock City field, and he gets his bat on the ball. I'm not in the habit of having part-time ballplayers, but Paul's is a special situation. He needs the money from the job, which is full time in the summer, and the people say they need him. They're very happy with his work. The other kids like having Paul around. It's not like they get angry when I put him in there, like he's (unfairly) taking somebody's spot." Speaking of his overall situation, Hopkins said, "It felt a little funny playing today, but I do play with an American Legion team -- the North Philly Hawks -- so it wasn't like I was completely unfamiliar with the situation. Your childhood dreams have an effect on you. All last year, I was thinking about how the team was doing when I was working. When they won it, I found myself thinking, 'I should have played.' But the thing is, the advantages to the job far outweigh the disadvantages." In '84, I wonder if Smith, Kline and Beckman was voted as one of the nation's 100 best places to work? Hopkins' bosses allowed him to play in the semis and final, as well.
NFL: a full no, Pub: a semi-yes . . .
As many of you remember, the NFL decided to postpone an entire bracket of games in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy. So did the Pub . . . not. On Sept. 13, then-czarina Linda McGee told coaches and administrators that no games would be played. One day later, she reversed her field -- hey, maybe she would have been a pretty slippery running back -- and said teams with 15 days of practice WOULD be able to play. Her reason for allowing some games: "We want to return to a sense of normalcy. We don't have large groups of spectators coming to our games anyway. There will be displays of respect at the fields for the people affected by the tragedies." Coaches, as you might imagine, were not thrilled with the flip-flop. "This is ridiculous," one said. "One day one thing, the next day another. We're going in circles. It's like 'Romper Room. ' " Added an athletic director: "The liability aspect is huge here. You know every kid on every team hasn't been to 15 days of practice. What's the cutoff number of players with 15 days [to safely send a team onto the field]? What if a kid who really only had 13 or 14 practices somehow winds up on the field and gets hurt . . . Do the coaches keep track of practice attendance? Put it this way: They're supposed to." Said Mastbaum coach John Murphy, whose school's contest with Lincoln was changed to a scrimmage: "They don't have in 15 practices. Even without that, I'd have moral reservations about playing a game. I don't think anybody should be playing."
Ted's note: Only three games unfolded. King coach Damond "Smash" Warren was excited about playing his alma mater, Bartram. Washington and Franklin went forward because each coach expected his team to be good and was anxious to take an early read of the barometer. The West-at-Roxborough game marked the dedication of Roxborough's refurbished stadium. The best game was Bartram-King. The former won in two overtimes, 24-18. "I hope people don't view us as the Antichrist for playing," Warren said during warmups. "I'm as sad and as patriotic (he pointed to a small American flag sticker on his shirt) as the next guy. We need this, though." Afterward, Bartram coach Frank "Roscoe" Natale noted, "This was nice, wasn't it? The kids needed this. I think we all did. It was such a rough week."
He Walked Into the Chasm of Nutty Rules . . .
Here's all you need to know about the lack of teeth in the PIAA's transfer/eligibility rules, and how crazy things got in 2007: Because of where Labor Day fell, Pub schools did not open until Sept. 10. On Sept. 8, in Overbrook's second game of the season, freshman QB Ehramis Chism made his varsity debut (2-for-2, 13 yards) in a loss to Episcopal. Then, he transferred to University City. Is your mind racing? Can you see where we're going here? Here it is: Chism played football for a school where he never took a class!!
Ted's note: . . . Well, to that juncture, anyway (smile). Incredibly, Chism transferred back to 'Brook for the '08 season and made sporadic appearances there through '09. He didn't play in the Pub in '10, but somebody named Ehramis Chism played QB for Airborne in Christ High, in Charlotte, NC, that season and someone ALSO named Ehramis Chism was listed on the roster for Mount Zion Christian Academy, in Durham, NC, in that SAME season. Can't be too many guys named Ehramis Chism running around, right? The Chism on the Mount Zion roster had no stats. So maybe he enrolled there, even practiced there, but then switched to Airborne? Oh, still within the early part of the '07 season, two other guys were on their second team. Defensive back Darrell Dulany made a one-game pit stop for Bartram before returning to Neumann-Goretti, where he'd starred in '06. In a non-Pub version of hopscotch, wideout Steve Harris switched from Judge to McDevitt. In January of 2009, Harris earned all kinds of positive attention for doing a great deed in his neighborhood. Click here for story/pics.
A Weight Off His Belly . . .
As Franklin began its baseball workouts in 1983, coach Jerry Kleger was hoping he could salvage the career of centerfielder Ron Friedrich by moving him to first base or third base. To some degree, he feared he'd have to tell him to go launch the shot-put for the track team. Why was that? Because Friedrich had gained 40 pounds since the end of the '82 season. Why was that? Because he'd gotten married in August and his wife, Wilma, was a great cook! I wrote about Ron after the Electrons stunned Roxborough, 4-2, to become the first inner-city team to win the championship. He helped Franklin to a 3-1 lead in the third by ripping an RBI triple and scoring on Randy Clark's single. As Ron commented after the game, Wilma was standing right there and kept flashing a bursting-with-pride smile that could have lighted the subway. Ron and Wilma were married Aug. 14. Their daughter, Michelle Nicole, was born in late January. "I had no doubt I was going to marry Wilma," Friedrich said, "but I wasn't sure whether I should stay in school or drop out and look for full-time work. I knew I wasn't going to drop out and hang on corners, or spend all day playing basketball. Wilma kept saying how much she wanted me to finish school; she also kept saying I'd regret it if I gave up my last year of baseball." Luckily for the Friedrichs, Ron had some cash flow even before he got married, due to a part-time job at Ovations, the Spectrum's private club. Luckily for the Electrons, Ron found his boss was understanding come baseball season. "My boss said, 'Do what you have to do, then get here as soon as you can,' " Ron said. "I work Sixers' and Flyers' games, sometimes special parties. I help them set up; also wash dishes. I'm supposed to get there at 3. But I usually couldn't make it until 6. I lost out on some money. This makes it all worthwhile." As for the 40 extra pounds . . . "Ronnie must have been eating the leftover desserts," Kleger cracked. "He was in horrible shape and I mentioned moving him, but he said he wanted to stay in center and that he'd lose the weight. When I hit outfield, I never hit the ball to Ronnie. I hit to left- or right-center, so he'd have to run. He had some batting problems until he lost more weight, but he became a competent middle-of-the-lineup hitter."
Ted's note: The far-and-away headliner on that squad was pitcher-shortstop Deron Miller, who wound up earning first team All-City honors at the latter position, which was his favorite. But he did all of Franklin's pitching in the three rounds of the playoffs (eight-day span), logging three five-hitters, allowing five runs, striking out 17 and walking only seven. "All you read was that Roxborough was killing the ball," Deron said. ''Rob Patete 3-for-4 . . . Dave Coyne 5-for-6. I figured I wouldn't get many strikeouts, so I didn't try. The guys said if I did my job, get it over, they'd do their job, make the plays." Ah, but he recorded six strikeoouts in the last three innings after notching none in the first four. "My arm felt stronger. My confidence level was higher, too," he said. Jerry Kleger is still involved in Pub baseball; he's an umpire. Always great to see him! After the game, he said Franklin would have a parade from Broad to 15th on Brandywine Street. Yes, he was kidding. That's only one block (smile).
Only in the Pub, Courtesy of a Certain Sportswriter . . .
We take you back to May 17, 1979, when an Only in the Ted moment caused an Only in the Pub moment. Yes, and I remain ashamed. Bok and visiting West Philly were playing baseball and the game was quite good. In fact, in the visiting seventh, the score was 1-1 when winning pitcher Paul Jackson (more on him later) led off with a fly to right that was misplayed into a triple. Two outs later, he scored on a balk and Bok wound up losing, 2-1. Why did the balk take place? My fault completely (ugh). After John Collins, working from the stretch, retired two straight batters while keeping Jackson nailed to third, I happened to mention to coach Tom DeFelice, who was standing right nearby, that Collins might be better off switching back to pitching from the windup. Tom agreed and yelled out to Collins, "John, go from the windup!" One problem. He did not step off the mound in the correct manner and a balk was called, allowing Jackson to score. Well, the balk was evennnntually called. The base ump said Collins had not balked. But West coach Joe Goldenberg -- yes, the same guy who produced all those basketball powers -- went hard after the plate ump and the decision (a correct one, by the way) was finally made. Imagine how crappy I felt. Bok was hanging tough against a quality pitcher -- Jackson would go on pitch for a spell in the minors -- and I screwed things up, royally. Almost 3 1/2 decades later, I'm still sorry, guys, even though Tommy D and I have laughed about it a few times through the years.
Ted's note: At the time, West was 6-5 in Pub action and guess how many starts Jackson had made? Nah, not all 11. Pretty darn close. Ten. The kid who made the other start was Randolph Scott in a game against Northeast. How'd he do? He gave up five runs and left the sacks loaded without getting an out . . . and Jackson replaced him! "Paul's pitched all but five or six innings," Goldenberg said. "Of course, his right arm is 37 inches long by now and his left arm is still 34. Paul is an ox, though. Sometimes he's a little thick between the ears, but if he's on like he was today, he can really be effective. This was his best game -- a no-hitter, at least that's what it is in our book." Unfortunately for Jackson, we awarded Collins a hit on a roller in the fourth that trickled over the mound and eluded shortstop Darryl McAdams. Even a grab and super throw might not have done the trick. Of his heavy work load, Jackson said, "Why do I pitch so much? I guess they think I'm tough. The coach and the other guys know I can go out there day after day. The Man up there, it looks as if He likes me, too." One last tidbit: One of West's top players was basketball star Kevin "Rock" McCray.
Game's Over, Go Get Some Sleep . . .
This might be the best-ever example of "Only in the Pub" and it's hard to believe I didn't remember the circumstances until now. But here we go . . .
As the scoreboard clock hit 0:00 at Northeast's field on the night of Sept. 14, 1995 (which happened to be a Thursday), PA man John Constantine, Lincoln's former baseball coach, began talking about the Railsplitters' next game and thanked the fans for coming. Some were heading to the exits when Constantine said, "My apology. We'll be having overtime." Yup, but it didn't last long enough! In city history, thanks to a brand new rule, this was the first non-playoff game to be extended into OT. What happened? After three sessions failed to produce a winner, and with the real clock reading 9:42, Lincoln AD Bill Wright walked onto the field and told referee Andy Hafele, "That's it. That's enough." Everyone headed home and the score went into the books (at 14-14) as something we were never again gonna see, supposedly -- a tie. Incredible, right? The first regular game under the no-more-ties rule and it ends in . . . but, of course . . . a tie! Say it loud. Say it proud. Only in the Pub!
Ted's note: Lincoln's opponent was Dobbins and regulation ended 6-6. Each team scored eight points in the second OT. On the last play of the third, Lincoln 's Ralph "Bones" Barnes caught a pass from Dennis Tygh and was downed on the 1 by Will Acqui, and that was when Wright pulled the plug. Dobbins AD Bob Mueller said he approached Wright at the end of regulation to voice his concern about OT being played on a school night, particularly in an opener that didn't count in the standings. Wright then approached Lincoln principal George Dipolato, who was in attendance. "He agreed we should end it (after the third OT)," Wright said. "Both teams had ample opportunities. How long do you go? Two more OTs? Three more? Five more? Somebody has to draw a line." Though many of the players were upset by the decision, coaches William "Jeb" Lynch (Lincoln) and Doug Macauley (Dobbins) agreed with it. The first OT score came on the third play of the second session as Tygh hit Jamie Patton with a 10-yard pass at the very back of the end zone. Barnes added two points with a flourish, leaping at the goal line and doing a full somersault over a defender. Momentarily, the game appeared over when Omar Mitchell intercepted Antowine Graham's pass to start Dobbins's second possession. But Mitchell was called for interference, moving the ball to the 5, then runs of 3 yards by Curtis Hunt and 2 yards by Yorel Prosser nudged it into the end zone. Graham barely squeezed out a score on the conversion to keep the Mustangs alive. To this point, there'd been six OT playoff games in city history -- just two in the Pub (both involving Washington in '94) and four in the Catholic League (the first one was in '79). Since this night, two Pub games have ended in ties. We'll revisit those circumstances in a future post. (One, I remember for sure, was a doozy). The Catholic League also instituted the OT-for-all-games rule in '95 and, since then, just one game has ended with a deadlock. In 2001, La Salle and Plymouth-Whitemarsh played to a 7-7 tie in the season opener. Why? Serious lightning rolled in as regulation ended.
It Takes Two to Title . . .
Do you remember the time Gratz captured the basketball championship by winning a semifinal and the final on the SAME day? You don't?! . . . It's OK. You're forgiven. The feat was not accomplished in Pub play. We take you back to late December of 1997, when the Bulldogs traveled to South Carolina for the eight-team Celriver Holiday Basketball Classic, which was held at the Charlotte Hornets Practice Facility in Fort Mill Township, SC. On Dec. 30, Gratz bested Rock Hill (SC), 56-48, in the afternoon semifinal, then returned that night and claimed the title by topping Victory Christian, of nearby Charlotte, 55-44. Why two games in one day? Snow on Dec. 29. How much? Make sure you're sitting down. "Maybe an inch,'' said a man who answered the sports department telephone at The Herald (newspaper) in Rock Hill and did not sound as though he was kidding. "Not too much,'' said Gratz coach Bill Ellerbee. "It was gone by 6 o'clock that night. My thinking from the start was that the ground wasn't cold enough to sustain the snow. The day before, it was 60 degrees. Before they called off the games, they had preliminaries for the three-point and slam-dunk contests at 9 o'clock in the morning and they were rushing through those. After that, we went back to the hotel and got word of the postponement. I could understand, I guess, because they're not accustomed to getting snow. But us, we're Philly guys. We jumped in the van and off we went to some high school, so we could practice." Tournament brass originally mulled moving the title game to Dec. 31 and Gratz was agreeable. "But they were unable to change our flight reservations," Ellerbee said.
Ted's note: Khari McKie and Percell Coles scored 13 points apiece in the semifinal. In the final, Sharod Carroll mixed 16 points and 10 rebounds, McKie scored 14 points, Terrence Stokes had 11 points and 14 rebounds and Rasheem Sims dealt seven assists. McKie was named the tournament's most valuable player. Ellerbee said the respective starting times were about 3:15 for the semi and close to 10 for the final. When asked what the Bulldogs did in between, he said, "We went back to the hotel to eat and get some down time. The smart ones took a little nap." With a laugh he added, "No, I wasn't among them. I was afraid I might lie down and not wake up."
They Finally Whittled Him Down . . .
This game, played in June '96 for the (but of course) Pub baseball title, featured the craziest stretch run you could ever hope to see, and then ended on a play that was a true all-timer. Enjoy.
Walk a tightrope long enough and at some point you'll fall and go splat!
For verification, check with Central High's baseball team.
If you do, show compassion. Wait until the pain has subsided. Be prepared to wait a mighty long time.
After escaping a second-and-third, no-out, ninth-inning jam in amazing fashion, and then a second-and-third, one-out, 10th-inning jam in you'd-never-believe-it fashion, freshman reliever Pete Whittle found himself one strike from victory yesterday in the 11th inning of a wonderful Public League final at La Salle University.
Within moments, R.J. Farina was crossing the plate and -- swoosh! -- John Griffin was crossing almost right on his heels.
Northeast's players exploded out of the third-base dugout to mob each other.
Central's players trudged to the first-base dugout and tried, unsuccessfully, to keep their emotions in check. A few players were not yet prepared to trudge. They were spread around the infield, lying face down on the grass, too stunned to move.
Northeast 5, Central 4 . . . in the longest title game in PL history.
So much joy. So much heartache. And the Best was saved for last.
Ted's note: So, what happened in the 11th? Farina (walk, stolen base) and Griffin (single, stolen base) were on third and second, respectively, with none out. As Central's large rooting section roared its approval (the school is footsteps beyond the centerfield portion of La Salle's stadium), Whittle fanned John Creighton AND Joe Zakrzewski. As everyone began to mutter, 'Is he going to wriggle free again?', soph third baseman Shane Best, the No. 9 hitter, stepped to the plate. Best battled. Whittle battled. The count went to 3-2. Best sent a hopping ball up the middle. On his follow-through, Whittle reached back and just missed making contact. The ball took two more hops to the back of the infield dirt. Second baseman Nick McCloskey sprawled and smothered the ball. While scrambling to his knees, McCloskey made a short toss to shortstop John Durso, standing near the bag. Durso wheeled. When he wound up to throw, Griffin was two-thirds of the way down the line. No chance.
Best's view: "I hit the ball and ran as hard as I could. I was just hoping the game was tied. Then I looked back and saw John sliding in and everybody running out."
Griffin's view: "I didn't see nothin'. I don't know what happened. I didn't look. I just ran. The first thing I saw was the catcher getting ready to catch a throw. I was thinking, `Have to get there as fast as I can.' "
The view of NE coach John Litzke: "I was sending John all the way. He said he didn't hear me with all the noise. When I saw (McCloskey) on the ground, I knew there was no way he'd be able to throw out John. If he's not the fastest kid on our team, he's second only to (catcher) Terry Rooney.''
Durso's view: "Pete almost got it. So close. Then Nicky did get it, but he was on the ground. I told him to flip me the ball. I was thinking maybe we'd get the guy at first. I turned around and heard somebody yelling `Four! ' I tried to get him, but . . . Too late. That kid was on his horse.''
Now for the ninth: With no out and runners on second and third, Creighton flied to medium right. Bob Dintino made a quick, strong throw as Farina held. Zakrzewski hit a bullet to the drawn-in Durso. Best chopped out to Whittle.
Now for the 10th: Brett Reynolds led off with a single and promptly went to third on a steal and a passed ball. Frank Decembrino popped out to second. Rooney was issued an intentional walk and moved to second on defensive indifference. Again the defense moved up. Ernie Rehr sent a liner toward leftfield. Leftfielder Ed "Bundy'' O'Neil, perched no more than 10 feet beyond the infield, made the catch and doubled Reynolds off third. "How could that kid be standing there?'' Litzke marveled. "That was Little League depth.''
NE junior Phil Goodhead, a 5-8 righty, went all 11 innings, tying the city's postseason record. He allowed nine hits (three of the scratch variety) and five walks while striking out eight. In 1977, Northeast's Steve Wyremski went 11 innings in a 3-1 semifinal win over Central. In the 1968 City Title game, Bishop Egan's Dennis Yesenosky went 11 in a 1-0 win over Southern. Unless the PIAA changes its rule on the one-day-innings limit (nine), the record will never be threatened. By the way, Goodhead, now known as Orzechowski, has embarked on an umpiring career.
Basketball's Version of Money Ball . . .
This story was published in February 1985 . . .
Like most basketball fans, Eric Mickles saw the videotape replay of the 89-foot, 10-inch shot made Feb. 7 by Marshall University's Bruce Morris in a 93-82 win over Appalachian State.
"I used to think a shot like that could never be made," Mickles said. ''Then I saw that and I had to say, 'Man, I guess it can.' "
Then came Thursday and the end of Jules Mastbaum Tech's Public League romp over visiting Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had 65. The reason Mastbaum had 111 was that Mickles, a 5-9 junior guard, beat the buzzer with a perfect swish from 84 feet, 11.15 inches. (The bucket produced two points. Three-pointers were not yet part of Pub b-ball.)
That exact distance comes courtesy of Mastbaum's mathematics department head, Dave Shore, who was pressed into service Friday by coach Ralph "Bones" Schneider and athletic director Al Chancler.
Mickles's shot, thrown football style, was launched from a spot 3 feet, 6 inches from the baseline and 21 feet, 2 inches from the center of the nearest basket. The corner in which Mickles was standing was the one closest to Lincoln's bench.
Mastbaum's court is 90 feet in length.
"I heard somebody counting off the seconds, so I took the shot," Mickles said. "Next thing you know, I made it. I had no idea it was going in, but I saw the net go up . . . and then (teammate) Darren Miller grabbed me and it seemed like everybody in the stands came out on top of me. They knocked me down, bloodied my lip.
"Nothing really dramatic had ever happened to me. This was the best. Everybody in school (Friday) was telling me it was a once-in-a-lifetime shot. They were calling me 'Money.' They were telling me not to let it go to my head. But, hey, you make a shot like that, you've got to enjoy it. "
Mickles wasn't the only one to get a kick out of the shot, of course.
"Think about what the end zone would look like if a guy caught a pass to win the Super Bowl on the last play of the game," Schneider said. "That's what the court looked like. Eric just about got beat up. He didn't mind, though.
"I remember thinking, 'Look at this! This sucker might go!' After it went in, a couple people ran right to the spot. We even marked it with tape."
Mickles credits his strong arm to having played some quarterback during a four-year midget football career.
"I never thought I'd be big enough to play football in high school, though," he said.
"That Rich People Use to Play Sports" . . .
On a mid-October afternoon in 1978, Edison soccer coach Al Maunus packed assorted gear into his car and said, "You have to consider this a successful day. None of our equipment was stolen and no one got shot at." He wasn't kidding. This statement was made after Edison and Germantown played to a 1-1 tie at Mann Rec Center (now called Rivera RC), 5th and Allegheny; and after Maunus told the story of what had happened the previous Thursday at the same site as Edison battled Dobbins. He said gunfire occurred near the end of the game and that everyone, in a panic, was running around bent over. "Heck, my goalie, Eddie Padua, was at one end of the field and his pregnant wife was at the other. He came running out of the goal to be with her and I was telling him, 'Get back in there. Everything's all right.' Dobbins almost scored." The next day, Maunus asked one of his players if he knew what had caused the messy/scary scene. And this was the kid's response . . . "One guy was beating another guy on the head with one of those sticks that rich people use to play sports." Maunus added, "I was thinking, 'That rich people use to play sports?' As it turned out, he meant a croquet mallet."
Ted's note: The Germantown game was accompanied by the sound of syncopated hammering. Not from the workmen who were constructing an addition to the main building for senior citizens and forever knocking over Edison's homemade goals with their trucks, but by area youths who were, shall we say, gainfully self-employed. What they did was remove the aluminum slats from the stands that surrounded the field, break them into three or four parts with sledgehammers and lug them to the nearest scrap metal dealer. In fact, one of the pictures that accompanied the game story (see above) showed two of the entrepreneurs. Pointing to a set of stands that was still in one piece, Maunus said, "By tomorrow, it'll be stripped. Not even the wooden stands are safe. They take those slabs, stick them in a trash can and set them on fire so they can stay warm while they're getting drunk or smoking pot. That corner right over there (5th and Westmoreland Sts.) has to be the wino and drug capital of the United States. We don't have too much trouble with those guys, though. Our school lets out at 1 o'clock and we're usually out of here by 3:30. That's when the cocktail hour begins. Heck, it's like the sidewalks of Paris. They set up tables and go to town."
Thirteen Remains an Unlucky Number . . .
Here's the beginning of my DN story from Oct. 25, 2007: If there's a place worse than hell, the Public League football season now finds itself there. And this was the reason: Two qualifiers, including the loop's most glamorous program, were axed from the playoffs due to the use of ineligible players, while a third school also was forced to forfeit victories. In all, THIRTEEN wins were forfeited. Oh, and that action followed by one week the shutdown of FitzSimons' program through 2008 for -- you got it -- rules violations. The most noteworthy forfeit mess involved Frankford, winner of the previous two titles and 27 in all to that point. The Pioneers had been assured of claiming one of the four playoff spots in Red, but that fun went out the window when d-back Taryee Quiah turned out to be 19 years old (almost 20, in fact). Quiah played for Judge in '06, then transferred to Franklin Towne Charter and was the ONLY non-Frankford player on coach Mike Capriotti's squad. He was permitted to play for Frankford via a state law allowing charter students to compete for their neighborhood schools in sports not offered at their own school. "I was hesitant to take him since he wasn't in our building," Capriotti said. "But he's a good kid. Comes to practice every day. There are two different birthdates on his records. One in 1988, another in 1989. Apparently, he was born here, but spent a lot of time in Liberia. I asked him when he came to practice today. He said it's 1988. This is my fault. Not Taryee's. I slipped up. I take the full blame. I should have caught this earlier and done the cross-checking. There's no way I would have done anything like this intentionally." Meanwhile, West Philly also waved bye-bye to a playoff berth and the Blue Division championships due to its use of two players, John Davis and Sean Ricketts, who were enrolled at Greater Hope Christian Academy. GHCA was not a PIAA member. Check this out: Ricketts was in his SECOND year with the team. "Why the red flags now?" coach John R. Lay asked. "Where were they last year? I didn't think I was doing anything wrong and nobody (in the administration) said anything to me when they checked my paperwork. The rules are ambiguous. I know one thing: John (Davis) didn't do anything wrong. This is very upsetting. We started to rebuild the program 3 years ago. Now we're the division champ and we have to give it up. It wasn't like we snuck by in these games. We won most of them easily." Penn's ineligible guys were students at Vaux; those schools did not have a cooperative sponsorship.
Ted's note: The forfeit total of 13 broke down like so -- five for West and four apiece for Frankford and Penn. The Frankford ones were crushers because they caused the Pioneers, who wound up 4-6, to post a losing record for the first time since 1968. Commenting in general, School District spokesman Fernando Gallard said his superiors "are very concerned that these mistakes by adults are hurting our children. We share the level of being upset that they're feeling. We have to make clear to our coaches and athletic directors that the rules must be followed, or there will be consequences. These kinds of things can't be tolerated." Oh, by the way, the extended suspension of FitzSimon's program for 2008 didn't stick. Big surprise, right? Later, Greater Hope Christian Academy DID join the PIAA and it formed a cooperative sponsorship with Bartram. Not sure how many of its kids still bother with football.
He Needed an Alternative . . .
These days in Pub sports, a football team, for instance, can field guys from all kinds of schools because of cooperative sponsorships and the fact that kids from charters schools without teams can play for their neighborhood schools; home-schooled kids can do so, too. But except for a select few of you, the fact that strange combos go back at least three decades will come as a big surprise. In the '81 and '82 baseball seasons, righthander Clyde Peterson was a quality pitcher for Bartram (second team All-City as a senior). Though he'd taken classes there as a sophomore, as a junior and senior he attended Alternative East, in what he said he was Roslyn. I kid you not: Roslyn. Bartram, of course, is in Southwest Philly. Roslyn is part of Abington Township, so those places are WAY far apart. Originally, Peterson maintained milkman's hours in order to ensure he would arrive at school before lunchtime. Before long, an English teacher at AE offered to meet Clyde each morning at 30th and Market streets. That took care of one direction. In order to make baseball practice each day (he also played basketball as a senior), Clyde had to catch the Route 6 bus, the Route C bus, the subway and the Route 36 trolley. Hopefully, he won SEPTA's customer of the year award.
Ted's note: Clyde said of his different experience, "Travel aside, I liked Alternative East right from the beginning. The atmosphere is free compared to a normal school. Students work at their own pace and the courses are designed with specifics in mind. Also, the teachers really care. They just don't grab their paychecks and run. Whenever you want some extra help, all you have to do is ask. It's like a happy family. At the start of the school year, the school sponsored a camping trip so everyone could meet and mingle." The story was written after Clyde pitched the Braves to a victory over Northeast. Not much time before that, however, he'd surrendered a two-out, two-run walkoff homer vs. Southern. He said of that moment, "I was really disappointed. More than you could imagine. We had a good lead and Southern came back because of errors. But I delivered the home-run ball. No one else. As a senior, I figured it was my duty to hide the disappointment." Then he added with a laugh, "You should have seen me when I got home. Talk to my mom about it. I was screaming and throwing things. I had to let loose." I did some Googling for Alternative East. Its location was listed as Wyncote (also part of Abington Township) and the school made it only through the 1982-83 school year.
Rumblin’ to a Record . . .
One thing about Jamil Morgan. On close-to-the-goal-line rushing plays, the dude was death and taxes. No wonder. He was as large as a duplex. In the 2009 season, as Gratz spanked Boys’ Latin, which was not yet a Pub member, Morgan was given one carry and turned it into a 2-yard TD. The next year, during the Bulldogs’ win over Roxborough, he again got one call from coach Erik Zipay and responded with a 3-yard TD. After the first TD, at the Daily News' request, Zipay forced Morgan to stand on a scale and determined he was 347 pounds. In 2010, the roster listed him at 345. Thus, we’re thinking it’s pretty safe to call him the heaviest guy in city history to rush for TDs in consecutive seasons. Who knows? He might be the heaviest guy to score any kind of TD? Plus, in ’10, Morgan powered for three conversions.
Ted’s note: There was a bit of controversy -- the playful version -- in ’09. Late in that 62-14 frolic past Boys' Latin on a Friday night, Zipay stationed Morgan (the center) at fullback and Tamaric Richardson (guard, a mere 230 pounds) at tailback. Richardson managed a 4-yard gain to the 2, then Morgan rumbled the rest of the way. (Richardson added the conversion run.) "Since Tam is a senior, we kind of wanted him to get the touchdown. I think Jamil bullied our JV quarterback," Zipay said, laughing. "Nah, he switched up the play," Morgan said. Morgan followed a path a shade to the right of straight ahead. "Everybody was all excited in the huddle," he said. "I scored standing up, then was real calm. Just gave the ball to the ref then I got excited. It was amazing. Later on I was calling and texting everybody I know." In the spring of 2011, Morgan capped his career by playing in the City All-Star Game. Walked away with hardware, too (as the Pub’s sportsmanship awardee).
Tooth Be Told, He Didn't Expect This on His Slade . . .
Before playing against MC&S in a Pub basketball quarterfinal on Feb. 18, 2012, at Southern, Constitution forward Craig "Poppy" Slade hoped to make a mark. Instead, he witnessed an upper front tooth go bouncing along the north baseline. HIS tooth. The dislodging ceremony occurred two minutes before halftime, when Slade took a violent-contact, elbow-first charge from Quadir Welton and his tooth Poppy-ed out. Craig's father, Scott, immediately zipped him to Children's Hospital, so he missed the rest of that game. Ditto for the semifinal triumph over John Bartram; doctor's orders. But in the final, played before a nearly full house at Community College of Philadelphia, Slade suited up and made important contributions as the Generals thrashed Boys' Latin Charter, 85-60. Then, during the unabashed, oncourt celebration, all pearly whites were visible. "They were able to save the tooth," Slade confirmed. He added with a laugh, "You'd be surprised how long a tooth is, when it comes all the way out with the root. That thing was probably as long as my pinky. I couldn't believe it. I was behind our bench [being checked by a trainer] and I wasn't thinking about being hurt. All I wanted to do was get back in the game. Then I saw all the blood -- I also had cuts on my upper and lower lips -- and I realized this whole thing was pretty serious." It remained that way, too. "I didn't know for sure I'd be able to play," Slade said. "At times, the pain was unbearable. Plus, two different times in practice this week I got hit in the mouth and that started up the pain all over again. The second time was (the day before the final). At night, I did a little extra workout at the 'Y' around my way, then I went home and got a good night's rest. I woke up and everything in there felt good. Like, pure."
Ted's note: Slade was a senior-year transfer from Bonner, having played there in 2011 with his brother, Scott, then a senior. Their dad was a star at King in '84; their uncle, William (RIP), better known as "Randy" and then a soph, was the important sixth man for Dobbins' 85 Pub champs, whose starting limeup included senior all-timers Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble and a future stud in soph Doug Overton; and their identical-twin uncles, Mark and Mike, were star linebackers for Lincoln's 1979 football champs.
Buried by Bok-to-Bok Scoring Avalanches . . .
Though now-defunct Bok experienced some football success through the years, especially toward the end of its existence when the Pub went with classifications based on enrollment, basketball often turned out to be messy. The coaches in charge during my time covering the Wildcats -- Ernie Beck (Penn all-timer, NBA), Ray "Chicky" Chiumento, Lloyd Jenkins (RIP), Steve Culmer and Greg Frangipani -- were all great men, but they were not interested in stealing players from other programs and/or begging eighth-graders to come to their school. As a result, Bok sometimes served as a punching bag and we'll throw out two examples 25 years apart. We'll start with 1947. On the next-to-last regular season playing date, Overbrook's Barry Love, showing NO love for the Wildcats, poured in 54 points to establish a new Pub record for points in one game. Twenty-five of those markers came in the final quarter and the 54 points were five better than the 49 posted in '46 by Sherwin "Shy" Raiken, of Dobbins. Believe it or not, ALL these years later, Raiken still holds Dobbins' record. Anyway, two days later, on the final day of the regular season, Bok played Roxborough and the latter's Frank Stanczak ch-chinged his way to 55 points. He broke the record in the last 10 seconds, thanks to a three-point play. He also claimed scoring champ honors at 19.8 (and no winner since then has posted an average that low). OK, now we flash ahead to 1972 and, again, the final two playing dates. On a Tuesday, Bartram's Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant, whose son has become pretty darn famous (yes, Kobe), racked up 57 points against Bok to tie a school record set in 1968 by Mike Moore (in a 158-89 win at Gratz. Yes, Bartram exploded for 158 points, an average of 4.9 per minute!!! Gratz' old gym was very small and the teams just FLEW up and down.) On Thursday, the Wildcats met Olney and . . . Willie Taylor kaboomed for 63 points (still Olney's record) to steal the scoring title away from Bryant, 28.3 to 27.4.
Ted's note: Bartram's record soared to 84 in 1986, when outgoing coach John Dougherty gave star senior guard Reggie Isaac a chance to surpass the overall Pub mark of 90, set in 1955 by Overbrook's Wilt Chamberlain. Reggie, a versatile scorer (jumpers AND drives), hit a decent amount of bombs that day, but the three-point rule was not yet in effect. He definitely would have picked up seven more points . . . Meanwhile, oldheads perhaps are asking, "Was John Chaney the coach of that Gratz team?" You're in the gym, but you must be charged with a turnover. His first of four seasons was 1968-69 and the result was a trip to the semifinals. The '70 and '72 Bulldogs also advanced to the semis and the '70 squad even got to experience the school's first finals appearance since 1939. Against Overbrook, the Bulldogs stormed back from a 56-43 deficit before falling short, 57-56. In case you're wondering, the '71 Bulldogs were also high quality. Alas, one of the players, guard Clarence Taylor, turned out to be a fifth-year senior and six forfeits resulted, pushing Gratz all the way down to 5-7. The word back then was many people at Taylor's former school, Southern, knew he should not have been playing for Gratz. They kept their lips zipped until later in the season, though, to assure the Bulldogs would not be able to overcome so many losses.
The Intern Doth Cover a Protest . . .
Rich Hofmann has long been a wonderful sports columnist for the good, ol' Daily News, but in the spring of 1980, while attending Penn, he was "only" an intern. And here's guessing he'll forever thank his lucky stars that on June 2 he was assigned to cover a Pub baseball quarterfinal involving Roxborough and visiting Bartram. Why? He got to experience vintage Pubness, baby! That game first produced a 5-2 win for Roxborough, but "first" had to be used because a protest of a pickoff play was upheld and the teams had to bang heads again two days later. Here's the deal: In the fourth inning, as play was about to resume after a stoppage, Roxborough pitcher Carl Soupik whipped the ball to first baseman Dave Turtle and picked off Jeff Morton. When Bill Hall (still working, great guy) made the out call, Bartram coach George Tomosky went wild and his anger turned out to be justified because Soupik, though on the mound, never stepped ONTO the rubber to make the resumption of play official. Tomosky lodged a protest and, after speaking with the coaches and umpires, baseball chairman John Koskinen decided at roughly 10 o'clock that night to backtrack to the point of the protest and replay the remainder of the game. Things went worse for Bartram. It fell, 7-0.
Ted's note: In those days, Roxborough played baseball games on its football field and the distance to right field was borderline miniscule, since guys only had to hit the ball across the width of the field and the track in front of the stands. Anyway, the resumption took place two days later and Roxborough's field was unavailable because of the upcoming graduation ceremonies, so the new site became Roman's home field, known as Boyce, at Roxborough and Henry Avenues. Roxborough owned a 4-0 lead and things could have gotten VERY interesting if the wind had been blowing out. Instead, it was roaring straight in from center. Bill Bottinger pitched first for Roxborough, then Soupik worked the sixth and seventh. The highlight was Dave Knittel's two-run homer. Under normal circumstances, it would have been a fly to right. But the wind pushed it down, the ball bounced just inside the foul line and rolled out into the street. The ground rule at that time: Run it out. Get as many bases as you can (and try not to get hit by a car). Two days later, no other games were being played and Rich found himself off the Pub hook. I covered the resumption. After the win had been made official, coach Cliff Hubbard said he'd met with his players the morning after the protest had been upheld. "As we talked it over," he said, "I got the feeling that the kids were not mad as much as determined. They wanted to go out and show Bartram who was the better team. The idea of having to play the game over, of course, didn't sit too well, but I was trying to downplay that. Like I told your other reporter (Hofmann) on Monday, I was really giving some thought to telling the umps to stick that guy back on first. Our principal told me, 'What if Bartram had gotten a rally going then won the game? You would not have made it off the field. People would have blocked your way, hounded you to death.' " Now THAT scenario would have qualified as even better Pubness! (smile)
A Lotta Lola Excitement . . .
In late December 1982, West Philadelphia's basketball team traveled to Las Vegas to compete in a national-level basketball tournament and the Daily News sent yours truly to chronicle the goings-on. One "problem": our sports editor wanted more than merely writeups about the games. Once we arrived, I noticed in the local newspaper that singer Lola Falana, at that time Las Vegas' highest paid entertainer and a Philly native (after spending her early years in Camden), was performing in the Sands casino. Hmmmm. I placed a call to the public relations people at the Sands and, thankfully, they said Lola would be happy to spend some time with the Speedboys. The Dec. 30 session did not take place during a performance -- we headed over there in the afternoon -- but the coaches and players did not mind at ALL. They got to ask some questions and pose for pictures and all eyes were pretty much bugged out. Lola, who'd attended Roosevelt Junior High and Germantown, was a beautiful woman. Or, as point guard Tracey Kelty put it, "On a scale of 1 to 10, she's a 12."
Ted's note: The Speedboys' biggest ham was sub guard John Allison. Aside from putting his arm around Lola's waist for one of the pics, he cracked, "I'd like to take her out if I could. Can you get me her phone number?" Kelty's brush with Lola was his second. His ninth-grade teacher at Sulzberger Junior High was her aunt. "She performed in an assembly, sang a couple of songs," Kelty said. "The students were going crazy, trying to jump on the stage and get close to her. I was right there with 'em. A couple policemen came with her. I guess they knew everyone would be excited. I thought we were coming here to see a show. G (coach Joe Goldenberg ) didn't really tell us what we'd be doing. This was nice, though. The guys
This pic did NOT appear in the paper, but it has remained in my files all these years. A more formal one did appear.
liked it. Do you see how clean (dressed up) they got?" I was able to speak briefly with Lola, who said she'd never attended a game while going to Germantown. "I was involved in dance every day after school," she said, "so I didn't have much of a chance to follow sports. But now, I'm very much into sports. I like basketball, football, tennis, gymnastics, almost everything. The only thing I'm not too excited about is hockey. I can't take the violence." That night, West fell to Clark, of Las Vegas, 76-65, in the third-place game. Even later? Goldenberg and his assistants, Frank Greco and Phil Umansky, were able to take in Lola's midnight show, compliments of the Sands. Unfortunately, Lola suffered severe health problems and wound up fading from performing view. According to several online sources, she hasn't performed since 1997. She spends her time running a ministry that's dedicated to helping orphans in Africa. One last tidbit about the Vegas journey: One of the side trips took us to the Imperial Palace Hotel. The main attraction: Al Capone's Bullet Proof Cadillac.
With Coaches Like Dad . . .
In the final two seasons of his high school career at Central (class of '87), Rich Drayton racked up 1,170 total yards of receiving and set the Pub's one-game record (since broken), at 213. Then, at Temple, he made 122 career snags for 1,693 yards and five scores. In 2009, he became the head coach at Central and one of his very promising wideouts, though only a soph, was his son, Richard. The Lancers' first opponent that season was Dobbins and the QB was DeVonne Boler, who went the distance. Care to guess how many passes Boler threw? Ten? Twenty? Thirty? Not exactly. Try ZERO. The game was played in heavy rain on a regular field and mud was everywhere. Still, Drayton had been a big-time receiver. How could he order no passes in his first game as a varsity coach? When asked about it afterward, he said with a laugh, "We gotta do what we gotta do. Hey, I know what we do when the ball's wet, and it's nothing good. So we were going to squeak things out and when the weather's good, that's when we'll throw." Said Boler, who scored the only TD (48-yard run off a busted play) in a 6-2 win: "I wanted to throw, but it's all about the team. We knew we had to run the rock to get it into the end zone today. Once I got one, I wanted to get more. Oh well . . . Our offense is everything you can think of, from option to pro to more. That was pretty ironic that my coach didn't even call for a pass. There'll be other games."
Ted's note: Two years later, when Richard (a k a "Tre") indeed was a star, the events of that wacky day were revisited. "We joke about that a little now, the no-passes thing," Richard said. "But I didn't say anything then. Probably too scared. Plus, we won the game. I was just happy about that." Dad added, "I never thought (no passes) would happen. But I always knew, as a coach, I would do whatever it takes to win. Because of the bad-weather day, I didn't want to put my quarterback in bad situations. I did call for a couple passes and guys were open, but he didn't want to throw because of the rain." Richard went on to Bloomsburg and will be a soph this coming fall.
Foul Away, Buddy . . .
Buddy Harris, a righthanded pitcher, made it to the major leagues as a 21-year-old for the Houston Astros in 1970, but he'd received some national fame four years earlier -- in Sports Illustrated, no less -- for his exploits while playing basketball for Roxborough High. Harris led the Pub in scoring with an average of 33.9 points. Know what helped him? Pubness! In at least two seasons, 1964-65 and 1965-66 (not sure if the experiment lasted longer), the Pub used the Nucatola Rule, which allowed a player to keep participating even after incurring his fifth personal foul. In fact, a guy could commit hundreds! OK, that never happened, but in a game vs. Olney, as detailed in SI, the 6-6 Harris was guilty of 12 fouls. The breakdown: six offensive, five defensive and one tech. Harris picked up his fifth foul in the first minute of the second quarter, and at that juncture he owned seven points. He wound up with 34 as Roxborough won, 66-64. Among the spectators was Bucky Harris, who had resigned one year earlier as the coach at Philadelphia Textile (now Phila. University). Buddy's dad told SI that the rule was ridiculous. "The rule gives kids a reason to foul. They can do anything and still play." Of the game itself, he said, "It was horrible. I've seen a million basketball games, but nothing as ridiculous as that."
Ted's note: In those days, all defensive fouls resulted in free throws. If a kid with too many fouls did the hacking, the opposition would inbound the ball from halfcourt after the free throw(s). Johnny Nucatola was the supervisor of officials for the (collegiate) East Coast Athletic Conference and the rule was his idea. In December 1964, with the start of the Pub season on the horizon, some Big 5 coaches were asked to express opinions. St. Joe's Jack Ramsay said, "The object of the personal foul rule was not expulsion, it was to cut down on rough play. If this can do it without putting players out of games, I'm in favor of it." Penn's Jack McCloskey and La Salle's Bob Walters were not in favor. Neither was directly quoted, but the Inquirer's story said they believed rough players may be encouraged if they know they are not going to be banished. Bucky Harris wound up coaching Penn Charter and his younger son, Billy, led all of Pennsylvania in scoring in 1971. One member of PC's 1969 team was some dude named Ted Silary. Harris was smart enough not to put him in the game very often. Hardly ever, in fact (smile).
Daisey Ends a Doozy . . .
The game that inspired this posting occurred in 1960. Just 12 years later, in the suburbs, I covered an EIGHT-overtime game between Plymouth-Whitemarsh and Springfield Montco that decided the Suburban One League championship. (P-W won on a last-second follow.) This one occurred in the Pub, however, so you know something goofy took place. The occasion was the second game of a semifinal doubleheader before 7,633 fans at the Palestra and the combatants were West Philly and Bartram. The former won, 56-54, in sudden death. Say what? Sudden death?! You're probably thinking, "Wow, they must have played an outrageous number of regular OTs before deciding to cut things short and go the sudden death route." Not exactly. Regulation ended at 52-52 and then there was ONE regular OT session, which produced two points apiece. Then came a sudden-death session (also 3 minutes in length) in which neither team scored. Four seconds into the second sudden-death session, West's Bill Daisey, a 5-8, 128-pound junior sub, got hacked on a drive and proceeded to make both free throws. Ballgame. (There was no mention of this in the story, but we'll assume that a two-point advantage was required to end sudden death.)
Ted's note: The win upped West's record to 23-0 and coach Doug Connelly said afterward, "When I saw Daisey go to the foul line, it was the only time I was relaxed during the game. I mean it. I was sure the kid would make both shots. He's come off the bench a number of times this year and pulled us through tough spots. He sure was ice-water and, boy, how we needed those points." Daisey's comment was, "I was afraid to miss 'em. I knew Mr. Connelly would be upset if I missed, so I just made up my mind and never even thought about the crowd. There must have been a lot of noise, but I don't remember hearing it." Overbrook won the first game, 72-57, then West beat 'Brook, 53-43, for the title two nights later, also at the Palestra. Disaster struck in game No. 25 as the Speedboys dropped the City Title, 55-46, to Bonner. Frank Corace totaled 19 points and 11 rebounds as the Friars became the first suburban team to own Philly. Back to the PL semis: There's a date stamp on the article I have for these games and, though it's kind of faint, it appears to read March 11, which means the games would have been played March 10. That would have been a Thursday. Maybe sudden death was only used on school nights? Not sure, but would love to hear why league officials went with THAT policy for a game as important as a semi. Meanwhile, on Feb. 21, 1944, in a Catholic League regular season game, visiting West Catholic beat North Catholic, 45-43, in four OTs. According to the story, three of the OTs were normal -- three minutes apiece -- while the fourth was sudden death. Bob Connor won it with "a long set shot" 1:25 into that fourth OT. Feb. 21 was a Monday and the game was played at night. After the third OT, the coaches -- West's Bob Dougherty and North's Phil Looby -- met with the referees -- Abe Abrams and Jim Osborne -- and a decision to go the sudden death route was reached. One of West's co-high scorers, with 12 points, was Francis "Reds" Bagnell, who became a first-magnitude football star at Penn.
He Got the Points, in Unusual Fashion . . .
Today's goofy question: How can a running back gallop into the end zone five times in a two-week period and not gain a yard?! Rob Davis knows the answer. In the 2010 football season, for reasons that were never explained to him by then-coach Barry Thomas, the Del-Val Charter junior became a conversion specialist. In weeks 5 and 6 combined, he ran for five two-pointers while being afforded just one regular carry. The result on that play: no gain. The catch to all this: conversion plays do not count in stats.
Ted's note: In the classrooms and hallways at D-V, Davis quickly became known as "Two-Point Rob." In the 2011 season, on Oct. 27, Davis finally scored a touchdown, a 15-yarder, in a 34-0 pasting of University City. He then noted, "Now, hopefully they'll be calling me 'Six-Point Rob.' " Davis' scoring run, posted on the first play of the fourth quarter, was a classic. He ran for roughly 10 yards, then kept pumping his legs in a dozen-body pile, minimum, that surged little by little by little across the goal line. After the game, coach Shelton Farmer gave Davis the game ball and his teammates were genuinely thrilled. "If I had 40 Rob Davises, kids who don't complain and do what they're asked, we'd be having a winning season," Farmer said. "We're down to 25 kids, from 40, and he has stuck it out. He makes every practice. Every conditioning session. He does everything with a smile. I really appreciate a kid like him." Davis said, "I love football. That's why I never quit. I talked to my mom (Braetici DeLoach). She said to keep my head in the game and when my number got called, just go in there and do a good job. At the beginning of the year, being a senior, I thought I was going to get the ball a lot . . . You get down sometimes, sure. But you have to keep thinking, 'I'm a team player.' " That D-V/UC game featured serious Pubness. Here goes: This game was scheduled for Germantown's field, but a field hockey playoff bumped it to D-V's practice field, Stenton Park, at 16th and Courtland in Logan. The refs were already at Germantown when they got the word. UC coach Lorrel McCook said he didn't learn of the change until 2:20, before either of his team's two buses showed up. The Jaguars' main bus didn't reach SP until 3:17 and the opening kickoff didn't take place until 3:48. In dreary, sometimes-rainy weather, head ref Brian McMahon (once Penn Charter's basketball coach), having been told the field had to be cleared by 5:30, limited the first two quarters to 10 minutes. The game moved along, however, and the second half lasted the usual 24 minutes. It finished at 5:40; an expected youth group with dibs on the field did not materialize. Mud was everywhere and the extremely faint yard lines were 10 yards apart, instead of the usual 5. Meanwhile, Davis finished his career with 32 points. He posted two TDs for 12 points and 10 conversions for 20. The kid notched five times as many conversions as TDs!! Amazing!! Think we'll ever see that again? Think it has ever happened anywhere else?
Turn Back the Plaque, Please . . .
Back in the day, especially WAY back in the day, coaches/administrators were smart/honest people, right? They never made a mistake and/or cut corners in an attempt to win championships, right? Um, not always. Let's go back, back, back to the 1918-19 basketball season, when Southern won the Pub championship. Momentarily, that is. After the crown had been captured via the regular-season route -- no playoffs in that era, unless necessary to break a tie -- it was discovered that some guy named Freeman -- no first name in this specific story; an earlier one referred to him as "Bunny" -- should have been shut down for the final four games because he'd flunked his mid-year exams. Once the news broke, the coaches held a special meeting and decided Central would meet West Philadelphia for the title; they'd tied for second place during the regular season. On March 18, those teams met in Germantown's gym and West won, 22-17. It was the Speedboys' first hoops title in school history.
Ted's note: The Inquirer story was pretty much worthless. Like MANY stories about high school sports in that era, it did not list the first names of the players. What was THAT about? How did newspapers survive such lunacy? Anyway, Young, Kneass and Patton "all performed well" for West while Goldstein and Voeglin "were the heavy scorers" for Central. How many points did each guy have? Who knows? Not mentioned. Oh, one guy's name WAS mentioned. His nickname, anyway. West's "Reds" Davis had the honor of being the only guy to foul out. Thanks for sharing, dude. In a strange preliminary, Germantown's varsity was defeated, 27-16, by an all-star squad comprised of players from Germantown Academy (then nearby, 45-odd years before its move to Fort Washington), Pennsylvania Institute for the Deaf (later PSD), Germantown Friends and Chestnut Hill. The story described those schools as being from "the suburbs." Only in the Inky! I did some Googling for Freeman and Bunny and Philadelphia and found a mention in a semi-recent obituary. Can't imagine too many guys are nicknamed Bunny, let alone a guy whose last name also happens to be Freeman. It's possible his first name was Albert.
Throwback Gate: No Thrilla for West Phila. . . .
Here's my story (most of it), the way it appeared in the paper on Feb. 6, 2004:
Stands have collapsed. Roofs have leaked. Fans have misbehaved. Once, a team was left with only one player because everyone else fouled out.
Yes, in the never-dull Public League, basketball games have been halted for all kinds of reasons.
Yesterday, another game experienced a plug-pulling and this reason was nothing short of an all-timer: potentially illegal uniforms.
Just before the second quarter was about to begin at Simon Gratz , West Philadelphia principal Clifton James motioned for coach Ed Wright to walk over. He then told Wright to pull his team off the court, and that the game would be forfeited.
The problem: West was sporting throwback uniforms - dating back to the school's mid-1970s, Gene Banks-fueled glory era - that were provided at no cost by Mitchell & Ness Sporting Goods in Center City.
According to school district spokesman Vincent Thompson, speaking on behalf of James, it appears James was concerned that the uniforms - both because of their value and advertising logos - could have been a violation of PIAA rules.
(The PL is not yet competing for PIAA championships, but is a member of the statewide organization and must abide by its rules. )
West, a decided underdog, was leading at the time of the stoppage, 16-12. A large crowd was on hand, but "large'' needs to be redefined because the stands at Gratz were recently condemned, then removed, and those that replaced them are much smaller.
Wright and two of his players, Chris Williams and Ricardo Lovelace, said the spectators were amazed and/or angry about the stoppage. There was no vandalism, all said.
"People were walking around saying, 'They stopped this over some jerseys? Over some jerseys? ' '' Lovelace said. "A lot of people were mad. We were mad. Not only did they make us stop playing - hey, we're trying to make the playoffs - but then we had to sit around in that gym for about an hour until they sent a bus to come get us.''
Said Williams: "How crazy is that? Stopping a game because of our jerseys? No one could believe it . . . I'm telling you, we were going to win that game. I swear. They can't let this go down as a forfeit.''
"They'' might not.
Thompson said the district would conduct an investigation, which could be completed as early as today. The game, he added, could be finished or replayed in its entirety.
Charles Sumter, the PL basketball chairman, expressed "disappointment'' over how the situation was handled.
"Why hurt the kids? Why put them in the middle?'' he said. "If anybody messed up here, it had to be an adult. Finish the game, deal with the 'problem' tomorrow. This makes our league look bad. ''
Gratz star Mark Tyndale said the stoppage ruined what was going to be a beautiful, daylong experience.
Gratz was having Senior Day. The seniors presented roses to their parents in a pregame ceremony and earlier, as part of Black History Month, the entire team listened to a talk by Earl Lloyd, the NBA's first African-American player (Washington Capitols, 1950).
Tyndale entered the game needing nine points for 1,000. He scored three, he said.
"This is embarrassing. The Public League is horrible,'' he said. "How can they let this stuff happen? My parents took off from work for what was going to be a special day and it winds up being for one quarter of basketball."
Thompson said Peter Capolino, M & N's owner, offered 2 months ago to donate to West 180 basketball throwback "garments'' (72 jerseys, 72 shorts, 36 warmups) because his vice president of marketing, Reuben Harley, the man credited with making throwback garb a national craze, is a West grad.
Thompson said Capolino told him the garments are worth $15,000 retail.
Gerald Jordan, a former West star and now a volunteer assistant, said samples of the jersey surfaced last week and everyone was excited. Jordan is the CEO of City Legends, an apparel company that honors high school legends in cities nationwide, and he helped behind the scenes to connect West and Capolino.
Ted's note: On Feb. 10, after all kinds of "circus-ness," Gratz indeed was handed a forfeit win. (What was the highlight of the circus-ness?? On Feb 6, the Speedboys, wearing their old uniforms, bested King, 62-53. Meanwhile, Gratz won at Central, 57-50, while wearing backup uniforms. During warmups, coach Leonard Poole traveled back to Gratz to get those because he feared HIS school's new unis, provided by AND1, might also be illegal because of an oversized logo. Scheeeeez.) About Gratz' forfeit win over West, Thompson said the company logo on the back of the uniforms indeed was too big, according to PIAA regulations. "I don't know why they're blaming us for this," point guard Chris Williams said. "[The players] didn't do anything wrong. Even if it doesn't count, we still want to play them. I'm ready." Thompson said West would be allowed to wear the uniforms after the logo on the back was covered, likely with one reading "Speedboys." In its next game, with arch-rival Overbrook, West wore the new unis and triumphed, 69-52. That setback left the Panthers/Hilltoppers at 0-12 with one Pub game remaining. 'Brook had entered the league for the 1927-28 season and had NEVER gone winless. The finale was against Germantown. 'Brook won, 75-67. One last thing: Does the name Reuben Harley sound familiar? He's the guy -- best known as "Big Rube" -- who hustles around town and takes pics of snazzy dressers for the Daily News.
A Slice of Frustrating Football Life . . .
The last "Only in the Pub" post in summertime 2011 gave the highlights of the day in 1982 when Edison's football team broke a scoreless streak that had lasted 27 games. Yes, 27 games. As you can imagine, we mentioned the streak along the way and did stories on the mounting frustration. Well, in 1979, with the scoreless streak at 10 games, the Daily News figured some incentive might help the Inventors (the nickname later changed to Owls) light up the scoreboard. The offer was made right after a team in Michigan scored in the final quarter of its last game of the season, thus failing to tie the listed national record of consecutive scoreless games (16). What, you ask, was the offer? Pizza for everybody! "I didn't see any real problems with doing it," said coach Roger Jann, who put the suggestion to a team vote. "At this point, I'm searching for ways to keep the kids going. I thought that might be a good one." However . . . "The kids turned it down," he added. "I was surprised, because our kids tend to see the immediate rewards as the fulfilling ones. The meeting was swayed by some of the stronger members of the team, but at least the other guys allowed themselves to be swayed." Running back Tim Dandy (all of 5-foot, 140 pounds, and featured in an earlier story with Penn's 330-pound Clyde DeLoatch), said of the offer, "I see no reason why we should play extra-hard or feel hyped up over a pizza. We all have pride on this team. You have to be a good player to go out there for four periods, lose 40-0, then be able to smile after the game. First of all, you have to be able to accept a loss and not scoring to even go out there day after day. If we didn't accept that, we wouldn't be here. I would like to score my first touchdown, though."
Ted's note: Didn't happen, of course. No one did. And the futility continued through the '80 and '81 seasons until that magical day in '82. (Again, see below under Aug. 31). One more thing about the '79 season: A local bank donated 288 little plastic footballs for distribution (by the cheerleaders) to spectators after touchdowns. "We've got almost 280 left," Jann said on Sept. 30. What happened to the other eight? The cheerleaders began tossing them into the stands after first downs. Since even first downs were outrageously uncommon, the gals did not exactly suffer torn rotator cuffs (smile).
Too Hard to Believe/Accept . . .
In 1980, Gratz was unable to play games in its brand new Marcus Foster Memorial Stadium. Reason? Are you sitting down? The field was too hard. Too hard? You're telling me Astroturf fields for Pub teams go back to the early '80s? Nope. The field was grass and, man, was it beautiful. However, according to Bill Jones, the director of informational services for the school district, the surface was labeled "too hard" by the facilities department. "If the field is too hard, I can understand that," noted coach Chris Roulhac. "But how come we did not find out until the grass had already grown? They should have checked the surface before." Said two-way star Vernon Foat: " Man, I remember last season. We used to bust on the seniors by saying, 'Don't forget to come back next year and watch us play in our brand new stadium.' They got the last laugh, huh? Later, the juniors will probably say the same thing to us." Bernard Beamon, another two-way stalwart, moaned, "This messes up your morale. You can't get fired up to play on the road all the time. Still, you have to put it out of your mind."
Ted's note: In this time frame, the Bulldogs were practicing on what had been the old field behind the gas station that's cattycorner from the school. That place was a mess! Rocks, pieces of glass and empty soda/beer cans were highly visible. Meanwhile, the first game was finally played on Nov. 13, 1981, and Gratz beat Edison, 6-0. That game would have been played much earlier if not for a . . . teachers' strike. You got it. The strike lasted so long, it threatened to completely squash the season. Instead of regular division play followed by playoffs, the Pub went right into a single-elimination tournament and Edison-Gratz was part of that. In an Only in the Pub moment, the key play -- a 32-yard, fourth-quarter catch to the 1, setting up Derome Cooper's TD burrow -- was provided by Gary Thomas, who'd been forced to watch the first half. Why? The principal, Dr. Daisy Richardson, had caught him wearing a hat inside the building during the school day. Not a regular hat. It was a red-and-white ski cap; the Bulldogs wore those, instead of helmets, while doing pregame drills. That was why Richardson told Roulhac it was OK for Thomas to miss only the first half . . . Gratz' field DID get converted from grass to turf in the mid-2000s and the first game, a 40-20 loss to Frankford, was finally played Oct. 7, 2006. And, of course, there was an Only in the Pub sequence: Beginning with 1:28 left, three TDs were slapped onto the board in a 25-second span and if that's not a city record, it has to be close. The fun began as Gratz' Brandon Baxter (the roster did not list classes; nor heights/weights, but what's a few important details among friends?) ran 20 yards for a touchdown. Jerrick Jenkins tried an onside kick and the ball bounced/squirted from person/pile to pile/person until it wound up in the hands of jr. DB-K Ervin Goodson on the Frankford 35. All he did was run 65 yards for a score. OK, that's two TDs. The third? Goodson kicked off and Rasheed Bulknight zoomed 83 yards to payturf, and the point total for the 25-second span reached 21 when Jenkins passed for two to Dominic Marrow. (Goodson also had kicked a PAT.) Phew!
One Last Chance to Not Park(er) His Butt on the Bench . . .
This goofy scenario unfolded in 2008:
A storm helped Anthony Parker find his port.
When William Penn High today visits Franklin Learning Center for a first-round Public League basketball playoff postponed yesterday by sloppy weather, Parker, a 6-5 center, will be in uniform.
The fifth-year senior, whose unapproved presence in earlier games had caused Penn to incur two PL forfeits (and four overall), yesterday was unanimously granted eligibility, in an emergency session, by the District 12 committee.
Robert Coleman, the D-12 chairman, said Parker was approved because documentation had proven "severe hardships" brought about his failure of the 10th grade at Penn in 2004-05.
Coleman said he'd offered Penn earlier opportunities to appeal Parker's status. School officials did not follow through. Family members pressed the issue over the last week.
Coleman said he was told by Brad Cashman, the PIAA's executive director, that appeals can be made at any time, even, as in this situation, at what could be the very end of a school's season.
PIAA rules call for forfeits caused by ineligible players to be erased if that player is eventually granted eligibility. That will not be the case here, as a reversal would have changed some playoff matchups.
"Brad is on board with that," Coleman said. "[Shuffling] would not have made sense on such short notice. Teams wouldn't have been able to prepare for a new opponent."
Penn coach Harold Alexander said Parker is his best frontcourt player and has practiced since being shut down in December.
Alexander acknowledged that not every member of Penn's team is on board with this development.
"But my main-core guys are ecstatic," he said. "They know our chances to advance are better with him. I don't know that Anthony will start, but he'll play."
Ted's note: So, what happened in the game? Penn lost, 75-60. Parker DID start and managed to contribute seven points, six rebounds and three blocks. How crappy was it that Penn's administration did not fight for Parker? Brutal. The league forfeits happened in the first two games, and Parker then missed 13 games over two full months. Meanwhile, FLC's star was junior guard Denzel Yard, who wound up earning first team Daily News All-City honors as a senior. Know where Denzel lived at that time? On the 900 block of East Rittenhouse Street, in East Germantown. Know where I lived until age 12? On that SAME block! Our address was 914. I'm thinking Denzel's was 937/939? Somewhere in that vicinity.
One Commitment Per Day . . .
Think of the reasons a player would not show up for a championship game. Let's start with illness, then move to injury, traffic accident, death in the family, suspension due to behavior or crappy academics, showed up too late for the bus and had no money for public transportation . . . Given some time, you could think of MANY more, right? Probably not this one, though: marriage. The player's marriage. On the final day of the 1972 football season, Frankford met a very powerful St. James team (some of its guys were huge for that era) at Franklin Field for the City Title. Alas, Frankford senior lineman Tom Maxwell was not on site because he'd just married classmate Lora Hill. Maxwell told coach Al Angelo and assistants he intended to rush to Franklin Field after the ceremony. The Inquirer got wind of the unique situation and sent a photographer to the wedding. Their plan, I assume, was to also get pics of Maxwell in action and run a decent sidebar story. Instead, the tidbit wound up being four paragraphs (with NO pics) and the "source" was the lensman, Charlie James. "I'm getting ready to go to the game," Maxwell told James, right after the wedding. Lora was standing nearby. She exclaimed, "You're what?! . . . You're not going to any game!!"
Ted's note: I mentioned this scenario to my wife and her immediate response was, "Why did he wait until their wedding day to tell her?" Good point. Unfortunately, Maxwell didn't miss much. The Pioneers were sliced and diced, 42-0. At the recent Carpenter Cup Classic, among the spectators was Dick Connolly, one of the CCC's founders and Frankford's long-time baseball coach (now retired). He was teaching at Frankford in the 1972-73 school year, but had no memory of this classic Only in the Pub scenario. I wonder if Tom and Lora are still together? A side story: back in the day, most Pub teams had only two coaches. Almost no teams had trainers and if a player suffered a serious injury, the assistant almost always was the guy who had to hop in the paddy wagon and accompany the kid to the hospital. Occasionally, family members would do so. One time in a game at Northeast, a Mastbaum player suffered a bad injury and plans were being made to have the assistant accompany him. Then, the coaches decided to ask him, "Do you have any family members here?" The kid shot back, "My wife's in the stands." He wasn't kidding. She came down to the field and off they went. One more story: . . . Check that. I'll save it for another day (smile).
This Too Shall (Hardly Ever) Pass . . .
It's doubtful you'll believe this one, but we'll give it a whirl. In the 2007 football season, Communications Tech notched 46 passing yards. Yes, 46. Yes, for the season. The Phoenix played nine games and three guys combined to pass 6-for-41 for 46 measly yards. That computes to 5.1 yards per game. That also means CT completed two-thirds of a pass per game (ha ha). The QBing was done by Adefumi Garrett, who passed 3-for-25 for 51 yards and two TDs. Other throwers were Armon Jones (2-for-8, minus-one) and star tailback Stacey Hill (1-for-8, minus-four). Ackeeno Jolly averaged an amazing 21.5 yards per catch (OK, he made just two snags) while the other receivers were Jones (2-4), Marcellus Chiles (1-1) and Kyle Tubbs (1-minus 2). Chiles was a lineman, so I'm guessing he made an illegal catch and the opponent declined the penalty. The Phoenix finished 6-4 and one of the wins came via forfeit.
Ted's note: Jolly was one of the coolest kids you could ever hope to meet. He was an outrageous fan of CT's basketball squad and provided non-stop entertainment by yelling, singing, dancing, you name it. Though he was so thin he made rails look thick, he wound up being a rather productive gridder. In fact, he holds the acknowledged city record for most tackles made behind the line in one game with 10!! Yes, 10!! On Sept. 4, 2008, vs. West Philly, he notched three sacks and seven TFLs. Those 10 stops resulted in 27 yards in losses.
Nothing Like *Perfection . . .
Think of all the guys who have served as head coaches in city leagues football. Only ONE can boast of owning a 1.000 winning percentage and, of course, he's from da Pub. Also, as he duly noted upon retiring, "There's gotta be an asterisk next to that." Indeed. Dennis Ginenthal's "lifetime" record is 2-0. With Barry Strube (now tha athletic director at West Philadelphia) on administrative leave, Ginenthal moved up from first assistant to head man as Olney's 2010 season began. The Trojans bested King, 20-12, and Edison, 28-0, then Ginenthal retired from teaching and coaching. Ginenthal, 61 at that time and a product of Northeast/Temple, assisted at Olney (1972-84), Northeast (1985-02) and Olney again (2003-09) for 38 varsity seasons. He often served as a highly respected defensive coordinator and, while at Northeast, was pretty much a co-coach with Harvey "Brew" Schumer; he also supervised special teams and even the alignment of the offensive linemen. Speaking of his departure, Ginenthal, who also taught health and physical education
throughout his career, said, "My wife (Maria) has been after me to step away. I had every intention of doing another full year. I was OK through summer camp, but once school opened again it hit me. I was burned out with teaching. Add in the coaching and . . . I'd come home, sit in a chair and fall right asleep. I'm a high-intensity guy. I'd have nothing left. I had to get away."
Ted's note: Ginenthal's replacement was David DiEva, who went 4-5 over the final nine games. Four city-leagues coaches finished with just one career loss. The most impressive performance belongs to Lambert Whetstone, who was 24-1-1 in three seasons (1927-29) at Episcopal. Other one-loss guys: Lubin "Lou" Little at La Salle in 1920 (1-1-3), "Indian" Joe Nejman at Germantown Academy in '51 (5-1-1) and Bill Smith at Lincoln in '59 (8-1-0). Ginenthal had an interesting comment on coaches in general: "You really develop special bonds while coaching. You don't remember your English or history teacher, but you can call up memories involving sports. You like seeing kids 5, 10, 15 years later and seeing that they're OK, and that they appreciated their experience." He added, "Within the last couple months, I was in a supermarket and a guy comes up to me. 'Aren't you Mr. Ginenthal?' Roger Scheuer. He was with his daughter. It was so nice to see him. We had a great talk. I remembered a fumble he recovered against Frankford."
Stars of the Party? Laurel & Hardy
In the 1971-72 basketball season, Overbrook's headlining players were Laurel & Hardy. Swooooooosh! That was the sound of that revelation going over many readers' heads. Meanwhile, some are chuckling and saying, "That's pretty cool." The real Laurel & Hardy (Stan and Oliver, respectively) formed a major comedy act from the late 1920s through the 1940s. Including shorties, they made over 100 films and many call them the best duo of all time. Overbrook's guys were wing player Rich Laurel and point guard Tim Hardy. Late in the season, before the Panthers fell to Germantown in a semifinal, Laurel and Hardy were featured in a Daily News story and their pic -- a quite large one, at that; much larger than it appears to the right
-- appeared on the back page. The guys were dressed like THE Laurel & Hardy and even copied one of the guys' famous poses. In the story, coach Mark "Max" Levin said of his players, "Sometimes I wonder if they even know who Laurel and Hardy were. They stay up late enough to see those old movies, so maybe they do." Laurel said, "Oh, yeah. They're funny guys."
Ted's take: Oddly, there was no byline at the top of this story, so I have no idea who wrote it. The slick/slinky Laurel went on to have a strong career at Hofstra (2,000-plus points) and was a first-round pick (No. 19) by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1977 draft. His NBA career lasted just 10 games, in which he scored 24 points. He later played overseas. Though his profile on basketball-reference.com lists him as a righthander, I could have sworn he was a lefty. Hmmmmm. Just made a quick "image" check on Google. Found two action pics. Making a hard move with his left hand. Taking a flip shot with his left hand. I rest my case! Ha, ha.
The Roof Is On Fire . . .
Think of the reasons that would delay the start of a football game. Nah, don't bother. You'll never come up with THIS one. In 2001, the Pub final featuring Washington and Northeast was delayed for seven minutes because of a controversy involving the roof of the press box at Northeast's Charlie Martin Memorial Stadium. Specifically, the fact that Northeast assistant Chris Riley was on it. Because the sightlines were much better way up there, Washington coach Ron Cohen complained to head ref Tommy McClain that Northeast was getting an unfair, possibly illegal edge. McClain touched base with football chairman Joe Stanley, who said coaching from inside the press box was taboo but being on top was fine. As everyone watched and/or laughed, Washington aide Tony Rome hustled across the field and made HIS way to the roof. The opening kickoff then soared downfield.
Ted's note: The ever-feisty Riley, a Northeast grad (and later the Vikings' head coach), had spent the previous season working under Cohen. Chris and Tony were products of the Rhawnhurst Athletic Association. In the stands, as the game unfolded, coaching members of that organization kept looking roofward and took every opportunity to heckle their buddies. Chris and Tony kept their distance and did their duties. Who won? Washington, 19-10. In a semi-Only in the Pub moment, one of the key plays was Bobby Young's 32-yard reception on third-and-19. It was only his third catch of the season. Wonder if Washington called that play because of something Tony saw from the rooftop?
***The posts below were made in the summer of 2011***
Ending a Horrible Streak in (Crazy) Style . . .
Younger folks still don't believe me when I tell them that Edison went 27 consecutive games
without scoring even one measly point; the futility lasted from mid-October of 1978 to Oct. 22,
1982. (Only 27 games were played, in part, due to teachers' strikes and other issues.) Anyway,
when the Inventors met University City that afternoon at 29th and Chalmers, they not only scored,
but won, 20-18! Only in the Pub was stamped all over this one, baby! The guy who broke the skid
was Nick Stinson, who'd quit the team the day before due to frustration that just kept ripping apart
his soul. When he scored, in the third quarter, he did so on a 59-yard punt return though Edison
coach Roger Jann and assistant Larry Oliver had yelled at him to leave the ball alone. The journey
took place on the north side of the field and Stinson scored in the end zone near 29th. Jann did
not even see the TD because spectators crowded onto the field and got in his way! "Larry and I
were both hollering, 'Leave it be. Leave it be,' " Jann said. "It was almost a bad choice on Nick's
part. When the defense is coming down hard, a ball like that is meant to get away from. But he
picked it up and started to run and I could see a clear sideline. Then I saw the punter running right
behind him and I thought, 'He'll probably catch him, but we'll have good field position.' At that point,
some spectators blocked my view and, by the time I got back in position to see what was happening,
the ref had his hands upraised and Nick was halfway into the end zone." Stinson said, "I was thinking
to pick the ball up from the time it stopped bouncing around. Then I saw the opening along the sideline
and I knew I had to. Only the punter had a chance and he wasn't quite fast enough to catch me. The
whole run, I was saying to myself, 'Touchdown, touchdown, gotta make me a touchdown.' I was
getting tired of all the talk about our streak. We had to put an end to it." It was Stinson who'd fumbled
on the 3 in Edison's first game of the season -- a 22-0 loss to Abraham Lincoln -- while heading for a
possible score with a pass reception. Lincoln recovered for a touchback. The word at the time was
that Stinson had fumbled for no reason. After this game, he offered his own version. "A defender was
coming at me on the side where I had the ball," Nick noted. " I fumbled when I tried to switch it to my
opposite hand. I got hit after that and my one leg went out from under me. I couldn't get my balance to
chase after the ball."
Ted's note: Edison won this one with two TD runs by QB Harry Jefferson in the fourth quarter, plus
Tim Sherfield's conversion run. Stinson, an emotional sort and the youngest of five brothers to play
sports at Edison, had recently been bothered by a hip-pointer. Near the end of the previous day's practice,
after not being permitted to lead the exercises and being told he'd been demoted to second team, Stinson
told Jann he was quitting. "All I said to him was, 'I will not let you quit, at least not without sleeping on
it first for a night," Jann said. "Come to see me in the morning and we'll talk about it then." Stinson bent
his girlfriend's ear all night and decided to return. "She didn't want me to quit," Nick said. "She said,
'You've been playing three years. You know how much you're dying to end the streak. Why give it up
now? It wouldn't make sense.' I told her, 'OK, when we get to school tomorrow, I'll ask for my uniform.' "
Stinson saw action for just two plays in the first half, as the long-snapper. He was eased back into action in
the third quarter and gradually became a big-time hero . . . This remains my best memory in all these
years of covering high school sports. These kids had gone through SO much. We'd done a few
will-Edison-ever-score? stories through the years and the frustration was mounting and mounting. For
one of those stories, a photographer took a pic that showed the offense in its alignment. One problem:
It was taken from the stands and the fullback, who was down in his stance, was hidden behind the
quarterback! We got some calls in our office. "No wonder they can't score! They only have 10 guys on
offense!" The day the streak ended, our DN photographer left early. Ugh!!!! Wasn't there to get shots
of Stinson's TD. After the game, Nick and Jefferson hopped in my car and headed back to the office.
A picture of them was taken right in the DN parking lot and they wound up on the front page of the
paper. The whole afternoon/night was so much fun. Anyway, with football season about to start, this
will wrap up the summertime project. Hope you enjoyed it and thanks for paying attention.
Can an Arm Cry Uncle? . . .
Right before a first-round baseball playoff in 1998, catcher Shaun Donahue, Bartram's fiery leader,
grouped his teammates for one last pregame pep talk and told everyone: "OK, Richie's pitching.
Let's make the plays!'' At the outer edge of the circle, Richard Watson arched his eyebrows and
gulped. Then he walked to the mound, threw 10 warmups and wound up pitching the Braves past
visiting Southern, 10-9. Perhaps you're thinking it's not unprecedented for a guy to make a surprise
start. True. But also consider this: Watson, a junior righthander, worked on no rest after pitching a
complete game the day before, as well as another one the previous Friday. (This game took place
on a Wednesday, making it three complete games in six days.) In reality, Watson almost had to hurl
because the Guida brothers, Sal and Steve, were out of town with their family on a long-scheduled
holiday getaway (OK, so they left a little early) and football star Paul Northern was absent from
school. Those three and Watson were Bartram's only pitchers. "I went up to coach [Cal] Richardson
during the school day and told him I could pitch if he really needed me,'' Watson said. "He said,
'You just might have to.' But nothing was said at the field. When Shaun was talking, that was the
first I knew about it.''
Ted's note: Watson allowed 10 hits and six walks, but struck out 10 and forced Southern to strand
nine runners. He also delivered a two-run single to snap an 8-8 tie. Watson, known to his buddies as
"Raw" because his full name is Richard Alexander Watson, said he iced his arm Tuesday night, did
some homework and went to sleep rather early. "My arm wasn't hurting early in the game,'' he said.
"I was so hyped and focused on what we were trying to do, I wasn't thinking about anything else.
My job was to get the ball over the plate and let the fielders do the work. Mostly, we've been doing
a great job fielding. Later, I must admit, my arm was a little sore. But I had to get through the game,
right?'' Indeed. This happened well before pitching restrictions were introduced, of course. I wonder
who would have pitched for Bartram, otherwise? Someone with NO experience. How ugly would
THAT have been?
What Goes Around . . .
Eighteen years apart, Roxborough lost and won football games with no time showing on the
clock. And the results were posted in nowhere close to traditional fashion. In '83, Roxborough fell to
Central, 20-15, as Jon Irvine returned a squibbed kickoff 53 yards for a touchdown on the final play.
Roxborough had taken a 15-14 lead at 0:02 as Matt Hanson ran 1 yard for a score then passed for
two points to Steve Rodgers. "As we went out, coach (Bob) Cullman said to watch for the onsides
kick," said Irvine, who'd also scored on a 9-yard pass from Mervyn Jones with 1:25 left, helping
Central to a 14-7 lead. "The ball hit John Barber up front and the Roxborough guys kind of overran
it. It was just laying there, so I picked it up and took off. Only one guy really came close to getting
me, about 10 or 15 yards from the end zone. I was able to outrun him." In '01, the Injuns turned
the last-play-disappointment tables by edging Franklin, 22-20, with an eight-spot at 0:00. Franklin
had scored with 1:50 on Aleem Medley's 17-yard TD pass to Darrell Fincher, making it 20-14.
Roxborough drove deep into Franklin territory, but time nearly ran out. Then, a Franklin player
-- yes, a Franklin player -- suffered an injury at 0:03 and that stopped the clock. Next came a pass
interference penalty and that moved the ball to the 8. Raymon Taft then tossed to Isaiah Barnes
for a TD and Taft added the conversion run to win it!
Ted's note: I did not see either of these games, but our guy at Roxborough-Central asked Irvine
for his phone number and we were able to do a short story. The next year, Irvine was a senior
and he received a longer version of DN ink. Looking back, he said, "All the guys were down after
Roxborough scored, and I guess I was kind of down myself. But I said to everybody, 'Come on,
guys, there's a couple more seconds and one last kickoff. ' The ball came to John Barber, then I
kind of snatched it from him" -- notice the slight variation on the play by play (smile) -- "and took
off along the right sideline. There was nobody there." When I mentioned to him that the last play
must make for incredibly enjoyable viewing, he laughed and said, "If you want to see the film,
you'll have to call Roxborough. Our cameraman didn't get it. He's got the whole game . . . until
that last play. He says he ran out of film, but I don't believe him. I think he gave up." Only in the
He Did His Best (Almost Only) Work in Overtime . . .
In the first eight games of the 2009 football season, University City junior Martez Lyles made
all of two catches for 11 yards. And those stats still represented his season output as the clock hit
0:00 in Game No. 9, vs. Overbrook. Ah, but the score was tied, 12-12, so that meant OT and,
man, did Lyles step out of the shadows. UC prevailed, 40-34, in four overtimes, as Lyles turned
three snags into TDs! The first two covered 10 yards and the last went for seven, deciding the
game. Every single one came on a left-corner fade from Michael Adens; the game was played at
Germantown's field and the OTs took place at the north end. Lyles was rather matter of fact
when talking about his accomplishment. Teammate Tyriuq "Pop Tart" Gordon, also a hero that
afternoon into night (good thing that place has lights), said of Lyles, "This was Martez' coming-out
party. He told us he was going to make those plays. They couldn't cover him."
Ted's note: So much for the coming-out party prediction (smile). Lyles had no catches in the
Jaguars' final game, a 30-6 win over Mastbaum. Passing wasn't needed. A fill-in for the unavailable
Adens, Kasheem Johnson, went 0-for-7. But Gordon ran for 158 yards and scored two TDs. Lyles
was only a junior that season. So, what happened in '10? Well, his brother, Marcus, wound up being
UC's quarterback, but non-stop feeding did not exactly occur. Martez finished with seven catches
for 95 yards and one TD. So, there you have it: Martez Lyles had three TD catches in maybe a
20-minute span and just four in his entire career. His main sport turned out to be basketball, anyway.
He received DN ink last winter after a strong outing (nine points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and six
steals) in a win over Roxborough. For that story, referring back to his football heroics vs. 'Brook, he
said, "I was the man that day. That was fun. I got a game ball for that; it's in a case at home. And
when I came into school the next day, everybody wanted to talk to me. I was a celebrity."
Was Football Fun at Freire? To the Contrary . . .
In the 2005 and 2006 football season, Freire Charter again and again found itself being involved
in games with crazy circumstances. And the Dragons were always on the wrong end. Here we
go . . .
2005: After Penn scored a touchdown, a personal foul and a procedure call moved the ball back
to the 23 for the conversion. Somehow, QB David Allen ran 23 yards to slap two more points on
2005: In a game against Franklin, the Dragons posted NO tackles on scrimmage plays through the
first three quarters! Franklin ran just four plays through those first 36 minutes of a 36-16 win. All
went for TDs. In order, Franklin scored on two runs by Maurice Dantzler (45, 54 yards) and one
apiece by Rodreen "Chief" Howell (60) and Frank Anderson (18). Also, after the first score, the
coreboard clock inexplicably ran non-stop and Franklin ran just 10 plays for the game (all rushes).
Freire ran 37.
2006: Imhotep managed to score each of its first four TDs from the 5-yard line -- Khalief Evans'
run, twin Khaleel's run, Khalief's run, and a pass from Gerald Bowman to Andreas Roberts. The
odds? One in 100 million! There was almost a fifth consecutive 5-yard TD. Khalief Evans lost a
yard on a run, then Julius Legg passed 6 yards to Khalief.
2006: In that same game, won by Imhotep, 50-0, Freire lofted NO punts. Punter Isaac Yorro was
unavailable and no backup was trained, so coach Nelson Walker tried fourth-down conversions no
matter what. So, Imhotep took over after non-punts on its 40 and on Freire's 31, 34, 42, 30, 40
2006: Roxborough's Ramon Odom six times returned punts for TDs that season and THREE
TIMES he did so vs. good ol' Freire. (The Roxborough game followed the Imhotep game by three
Ted's note: Freire dropped football after the '08 season, but at least it had some fun. In what
turned out to be their final game, played on the turf field used by the nationally famous Frankford
Chargers youth program, the Dragons bested Esperanza, 24-6, while helping the Toros, in their
one and only varsity season, break the city record for points allowed (455). Esperanza had been
permitted to play varsity ball without experiencing even one season of JV activity (speaking of
"Only in the Pub" -- smile).
There's No Stalling in Football . . .
On the last day of the 1983 regular season, Central visited Germantown to decide the Mid-City
Division title. At 2:29, a minute before the scheduled start, G-town coach Charlie Hicks still had
his players grouped in an end zone, ostensibly to go over instructions one final time, stretch it out
a few extra times and direct a prayer or three. Ref George Britner had a coin in his hand, not to
mention an itchy thumb primed to toss it, and yelled to Hicks that he wanted to see Germantown's
captains. Pronto. Hicks, meanwhile, wanted to see Warren Conrad, Central's athletic director
and the league's football chairman. "We were down there stalling. Absolutely," Hicks said later.
"I wanted to see Conrad in hopes of getting a postponement. I looked around, but I couldn't see
him anywhere. The field was a total quagmire. I felt Central was bigger and stronger than us,
that the playing conditions would be to their advantage. I felt it would become a power game and
that they'd push us up and down the field. I'd mentioned postponing to Bob (Cullman, Central's
coach). He agreed it was a little crazy to play a division championship game in such lousy weather,
but he reminded me that games are supposed to be called off by noon. He said as long as they
were here, they wanted to play." So, the game went on. And Germantown, believed to own the
longest winning streak (13 games) by a Public League team since Frankford won 15 in a row
1939-41, won the division. The final was 18-6. And when G-town's Milton Waites ran 55 yards
for a final score with 1:59 left, that meant Central lost out on capturing the wild card (best second
place record in the three divisions; playoffs had not expanded to eight teams) because the spread
was higher than seven points.
Ted's note: The rain this day was monsoon-like. Definitely a top-fiver. I'm pretty sure all other
Pub games were postponed and Hicks was pretty darn hot that this one had somehow avoided that
fate. No doubt he suspected shenanigans given Conrad's status as Central's AD and the fact that
Central's squad definitely had bigger/stronger kids. The weirdest part about the game was that
Germantown's star was Kevin Aiken, who was listed at 5-8, 165. Traditionally, oaf-like fullbacks
dominate in conditions such as these. But Aiken rushed for 156 yards and two TDs on 22 carries.
"Aiken will surprise you," Hicks said. "He's got tremendous balance to go along with his speed.
He takes short, choppy steps. It's almost like one foot is always touching the ground." Said Aiken:
"The only place the footing was close to OK was on the grass part. When I could, I tried to get
to the outside. The mud was in my eyes, in my mouth. I wasn't worried about it, though. I felt I
had an advantage. Every time I looked up, it seemed like the guys coming at me were slippin' and
slidin'. I was a little, too, but not as bad as them." By the way, Northeast took advantage of its
opportunity by going on to win the championship. A star linemen was Chris Riley, who last year
coached the Vikings to their first title since '83.
Eight Is More Than Enough . . .
The city record for touchdowns in one game is eight and it was set in 1983, just one week after
Washington's Glen Hassett tied the five-county mark with six in a 46-12 frolic over Mastbaum.
Bartram's Hector Scott went that one TWO better in a 60-6 thrashing of Bok. Ironically, Scott,
who wore No. 22, got his eighth score (all came on rushes) on a seven-yard run with 22 seconds
remaining. He also ran 33, 2, 1, 3, 15, 4 and 5 yards for TDs. Teddy Williams got the Maroon
Wave's other TD on a 7-yard run. Derrick McMichael kicked six PATs. "After the summer, I told
David Boone (Bartram's 1982 franchise now at Temple) I was going to try to break all his records,"
Scott said, laughing. ''I thought something like this would be impossible, though. After I got No. 4,
I told the linemen that I wanted us to go get the record. I just ran for daylight and the line blocked
very well." The 5-11, 190-pound Scott, who also snaps for punts and plays defensive back, racked
up 273 yards on 43 carries. Although Bok coach Charlie Guida did not shake hands after the game
with Bartram coach Frank Conway Sr. (his son, Frank Jr., later coached Central), he was
philosophical about the chain of events. "If you're going to beat us, might as well beat us with your
best," Guida said. "Anyway, our kids quit . . . One thing we won't have to practice for a while is
kickoff returns. We got a lotta practice today."
Ted's note: The most amazing development, for my money, was what happened in our Daily News
sports department. The guy who served as our statistician at that game, Keith Hines, was just two years
out of Bok. He was VERY hissed that Bartram had run up the score on his school. He was reading
off the results of the plays, one by one, and I was totaling everything up. He kept saying, "22 plus 33,
TD . . . 22 plus 2, TD . . . 22 plus 1, TD . . . 22 plus 3, TD . . ." And so on. After maybe the fifth
score, I said to him, "Damn, Keith! How many TDs did he have??!!" He growled, "I don't know. I
know I got more here, though. They just kept givin' him the ball. Trying to embarrass us." (There
might have been a few blue words in there, too, but we'll spare you -- smile.) Anyway, we went
through all four quarters and, lo and behold . . . EIGHT touchdowns. Yup, Keith was so mad about
what had happened, he was unaware Scott had tallied eight TDs!! Later, I phoned Hector and we
slapped together a story. When his work schedule permits, the personable Keith still keeps stats
at football games for us. He's also a basketball assistant at Frankford and is known to coaches far
and wide (even at the college level) because of his summertime work at camps and clinics. As for
Hector Scott, we hooked him up for a longer story two weeks later and he talked about how much
of a celebrity he'd become. On Oct. 22 (the day after the eight-TD outburst), he entered a phone
booth and "I was in the middle of my call," Scott said, "and this guy comes walking by. He says,
'Hector Scott, right?' I told him yes and he said, 'Con-grad-u-lay-shuns, that was some job you
did yesterday . . . ' He was nice, but he went on and on. He finally left and I went to get back on
the phone. The operator had cut me off. Guess the time had run out." Later he added, "Anymore,
it's like my name isn't Hector Scott. It seems everyone calls me 'The Eight-Touchdown Man.' I
can't tell you how often I've heard that, a lot of times from people I don't even know. In school.
On the street. Everywhere. Usually, the people call me 'The Eight-Touchdown Man' then they
ask, 'When you gonna get nine?' "
Three Quarters of a Doubleheader . . .
In the 2010 basketball season, Frankford found a unique way to clinch the Division A title. Would
you believe two wins on the same day? Of course you would, seeing as how the name of this
webpage is "Only in the Pub." First, in their gym, the Pioneers rolled past University City, 70-54.
Then, after changing their jerseys from white to red, they piled into relatives' vehicles and hightailed
it to Northeast, where the Vikings were waiting after falling to Southern, 77-51. Back on Feb. 4,
exactly two weeks earlier, Frankford owned a 32-21 halftime lead over visiting Northeast when
a broken basket caused a suspension. The game had to be completed and, with the schedule packed
due to so many recent snowouts, yesterday wound up being the day. Rather than beg Northeast to
return to Frankford, the Pioneers offered to switch sites. They won, 63-51, and then visited Edison
the next day, giving them FIVE games in FOUR days (there'd been LOTS of snow issues). The double
dip day was not without its challenges. No refs showed up at Frankford. Luckily, a guy named
Anthony Smith, who's certified and lives in the neighborhood, was there to watch. He hustled home,
got his shirt and whistle, and the game began a half-hour late at 3:45. There was also just one zebra
for Part II, which began at 5:50. That was Marvin Doughty, who first traveled to Frankford because
he wasn't aware of the switch to Northeast. In the first win, the highly athletic Carl Wallace
contributed 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. He totaled 11 points in the daycap
and he powered down two hellacious dunks during the stretch. They were needed, too, because the
Vikings, winless in Pub play, had hustled their way into a 51-51 tie. "By the end, some Northeast
kids were rooting for us," Wallace said. "That seems to happen a lot. People like our team. Though
I'm cramping and my stamina's down, this was interesting. I didn't mind. It really wasn't anything
new. Sometimes in AAU ball, you have to play three games in 1 day. No riding from one place to
another, though." Against UC, Dehaven Brown (16) and Steffon Poole (10, with six rebounds) also
scored in double figures. Poole (13) and Brown (11) were the leaders vs. Northeast along with Wallace.
Ted's note: The story had fun with the fact that Wallace traveled to Northeast with his grandparents,
Carl and Karen Fowler, and two teammates, Terrell Clark and Imire Taylor. "My grandparents were
talking about laxatives," Wallace said. "And Terrell was sitting in the back, imitating them. My
grandmom was saying how she takes the juice from collard greens and stores it in the refrigerator,
and how she makes my grandpop drink that juice if his stomach is hurting. Fifteen minutes later, it
stops hurting. It was a cool ride. We were all laughing." Hurting translates to gas-passing. And Carl's
grandpop was stinkin' up the car, big time. That might have been the hardest I ever laughed while
interviewing someone. Had to tone things down for the story a little, however. Carl darn near provided
a toot for toot description. Meanwhile . . . here are two other "court episodes." Late in the 2002 regular
season, a crack appeared in one of the glass backboards at Northeast. No one bothered to fix it, so
when the Vikings hosted Masterman in a round-of-16 playoff, the game was played cross-court. The
stands at the other end were pulled out and fans had to turn sideways to watch the game. And then,
there was the '96 Pub final, won by Edison thanks to Nike. Say what? This one was played at the
ol' Civic Center (nee Convention Hall) and Pub officials tried to make some extra money by slapping
advertising logos onto the court. There were two of them and pretty early it became obvious the damn
things were slick. After Gratz forward Terrance "Fats" Smith slipped and fell hard to the floor in the
first quarter, there was an 11-minute delay so workers could fix the problem. After unsuccessfully
trying to peel them off with razor blades, they then sanded them to remove the slickness. At the time
of Swooshgate, Edison trailed, 9-1, and was displaying true deer-in-headlights characteristics. The
delay gave them a chance to regroup and take a million deep breaths. The Owls won in OT, 74-68.
Jumping Into Trouble . . .
Over the summer in 1990, Overbrook basketball star Isaiah "Reese" Montgomery accepted a
total of $6,240 for winning four slam-dunk contests. One problem: He won most of that money
using an assumed name, Alan Thomas. Another problem: the rules for the contests stipulated that
entrants had to be at least 21 because alcohol companies were among the sponsors. Oh, and one
more problem: In some peoples' eyes, Montgomery was now a basketball "pro" and would be
barred from playing for 'Brook in his senior season. The scenario began on July 28 when
Montgomery, then 17, won $1,045 in a contest at Tustin Playground, across the street from 'Brook.
Montgomery competed as Alan M. Thomas, a 23-year-old man who also lived across the street
from Tustin. A magazine called PhillySport, in its September/October edition, carried a small story
on Montgomery's feats and even included a picture of him dunking. He was consistently referred
to as Alan Thomas. "I just wanted to be in the contest. I just wanted to compete," said Montgomery.
"I did know there was a cash prize, but I didn't think it would matter. I never thought I'd win.
Tustin, that's where I always play. All my buddies are there. When I came up to the playground,
they were saying, 'You should get in this, man. ' I said, 'I'm only 17. ' Alan said, 'You can be me.
You can use my ID.' And he pulled out a card, a Social Security card. So, I signed the sheet as
Alan Thomas. All I had to show them was the Social Security card and, later, one other thing: a birth
certificate. Alan went home to get that. There weren't any picture IDs. Early, some people were
saying, 'That kid shouldn't be in there. He's 17, goes to Overbrook. ' They talked to me. I kept
saying I was Alan Thomas. I just wanted to dunk, that was it." Montgomery was tremedous
throughout. For his crowning dunk, he positioned a buddy in the foul lane. He soared up, up, up,
over his buddy, and dunked emphatically. The crowd exploded. "I was going to tell them (about being
an impostor)," Montgomery said. ''But then (former Sixer) Darryl Dawkins (celebrity administrator)
is picking me up, all happy, and saying, 'Let's go get some money.' I drew a blank. In the little room,
I was real nervous. My hands were shaking. I pulled out the IDs again, and dropped them. Then they
handed me the check."
Ted's note: Montgomery later traveled to the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn for a national competition
and seized second place, raking in more then $5,000. Also, using his real name, Montgomery won $50
in a contest for high school players at a playground at 8th and Duncannon and then, back to Alan
Thomas, snagged $100 more in a dunkoff at Franklin Mills Mall. Terry Murphy, the president of the
company that paid Montgomery a total of $6,090, said he had no desire to recover the money. "Whether
he was Alan Thomas or Moses Malone, the son of a gun could sky," Murphy said, cheerily. "As far as
I'm concerned, it's 'Congratulations, buddy. You skied over everybody in Philadelphia and almost
everybody in New York. ' I feel terrible for the kid if his eligibility gets affected by this. But, in the
contest itself, the kid earned every damn penny. He was electrifying." As the school season approached,
the School District conducted a thorough investigation. In early November, Montgomery was cleared to
play. Said spokesman Bill Thompson: "What he did was not a violation of any current Public League
regulation. There's nothing to specifically prohibit the acceptance of a cash prize." An administrator with
the NAIA put it this way. "There's not a sport called 'dunking.' " However, after graduating from 'Brook
in 1992, Montgomery attended Camden County (junior) College last year and was ruled ineligible by
the National Junior College Athletic Association on the grounds that he was a professional. In the summer
of '93, I wrote a story about how "Reese" was trying out for the U.S. Men's Handball National Team,
with the eventual goal of competing in the '96 Atlanta Olympics. He did not wind up being part of that
The Point Was to Score . . .
On the final day of the 1984 basketball regular season, during the warmup period, Lamberton
guard Troy Daniel, adding a smile and wink for effect, said, "Someone better call the cops.
There's gonna be a shootout." Quite the prophet, that Troy Daniel. There was an X factor,
though. The shootout between Troy and E&S star Michael Anderson, also a guard, did not wind
up as a fair one. Having missed the team bus, Anderson did not arrive until 2:59, a minute before
tipoff. By the time he went upstairs, changed his clothes and returned to the gym, 4:33 remained
in the first quarter. Coach Charlie Brown kept him on the bench until the start of the second
quarter. Anderson had entered the day with a 13-point lead in the race for the scoring title. He
wound up scoring 32 points before fouling out with 2:57 remaining. He shot 11-for-20 from the
floor and 10-for-24 (somehow, he missed his first nine) at the line. Daniel exploded for a
career-high 55 points, shooting 22-for-42 and 11-for-18. "In practice yesterday," Daniel
said, "Mr. (coach Mitchell) Kurtz was saying we wanted to do two things. Our first goal
was to win the game, and he said a big part of that would be to stop Mike. And our second
goal was for me to win the scoring title. He felt he kind of owed it to me because I sacrificed
some points all year in an attempt to help us win. Since we didn't make the playoffs and this
was the last game, he wanted to give me a chance to retain my title." He added, "Before the
game, I went off in the cafeteria by myself. I thought back on my career. I also thought about
what I had to do today. I knew people here were hoping I would outscore Mike, so I pumped
myself up to do that. I knew I'd have to shoot with two or three people on me. When you're
trying to score a lot, as well as win, it adds a lot of pressure." Anderson's other stats included
10 rebounds, six assists and 13 steals. As for Daniel, though he claimed 19 rebounds, he had
zero assists. When that fact was relayed to him, he laughed and said, "Oh, well, you can't
Ted's note: Anderson was late because he spent every other week pursuing a hotel management
curriculum at Randolph. He didn't make it back to E&S in time to catch the team bus, but was
given a ride to Lamberton (at that time, the Blue Devils played games at their school) by
teammate Kedrick Johnson. Daniel played his college ball at Penn State and Millersville.
Anderson, who earlier that season dropped 66 points on Edison (it was a non-league game,
however), starred at Drexel and played briefly in the NBA.
The Perfect Storm . . .
This all-timer occurred in 1994 in a second-round baseball playoff . . .
There was lightning and thunder and rain and swirling winds and yelling by irate fans.
Then, there was a lazy flyball to centerfield.
What goes up always comes down, we are taught from toddlerhood. But never is there a guarantee
of what occurs between the start of the up and the end of the down.
Abraham Lincoln 9, Jules Mastbaum Tech 8.
That was the final score yesterday in a second-round Public League baseball playoff that produced
one of the wackier conclusions in history.
To repeat: in history.
Lincoln scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to complete a comeback from a 7-1,
It was dark and gloomy when the Railsplitters began batting. A light rain was falling and the wind
was picking up.
Pinch-hitter Jerome Woodlin walked. Artie DiProspero hammered a line drive to centerfield. Dom
Festa broke in, then realized his misjudgement. He ran back quickly, but the ball sailed over his head
for a run-scoring double.
The rain began to intensify. Mastbaum coach Ralph "Bones" Schneider took a slow stroll to the
mound. Reliever Renato Lajara returned to his original position, centerfield. Louis Miranda, who
had started at third base, came in to pitch from rightfield.
After Miranda finished his warmup pitches, Schneider lingered for a short time on the field.
"Quit stalling!" a Lincoln fan yelled. "Get off and stay off!"
"I wasn't stalling," Schneider said. "If I was stalling, I would have been arguing with the umps to
hold up the game."
Mike Langan bunted to Miranda. His throw to first baseman Josiah Middleton was late, giving
Lincoln runners at first and third. Per instructions from coach Mark Adami, Langan broke for second
before Miranda threw a pitch to John Dempster. Miranda stepped off and fired to second baseman
Langan was an easy out, but Hansberry's throw plateward to catcher Jose Allende was a split-second
late and the score was tied.
Boom! A thunderclap, by a large margin the loudest so far, exploded somewhere behind the plate.
Close enough that all believers in God were starting to pray.
The rain intensified. Dempster walked. Brad Czechowski, after fouling off two bunts, struck out
swinging. Schneider walked toward the plate.
"Not this guy again!" a Lincoln fan hollered. "Throw him out of here."
Mike McDonald, Lincoln's best hitter, was due. Schneider told plate umpire Ron Burgis that he wanted
to issue McDonald an intentional walk. McDonald groaned, then strolled to first.
Schneider wasn't finished. With Jim Keiser, a lefthanded batter, coming up, he realigned the flank men
in his outfield. Festa and Jose Mercado made long, slow trots from left to right and right to left, respectively.
Keiser swung. He lifted a lazy flyball to centerfield.
"I was already thinking about how we'd line up on defense in the top of the eighth," Adami said.
"I was mad at myself. A popup," Keiser said, spitting out the word.
In centerfield, Lajara was having a problem. He wasn't moving. Then he was holding up his arms in a
"It was hit right toward him," Adami said. "Then I started thinking, 'Where that ball's coming down is
. . . not where that kid is!!! "
Said Keiser: "I didn't look out there at first. When I got around first, I could see what was going on."
Lajara could not. The ball fell to the grass about 15 feet in front of him. Dempster raced across the plate
and was mobbed by delirious teammates. Mastbaum's players stood at their positions, stunned.
No more than 10 seconds later, the skies opened big-time. Players, coaches, umpires, fans - everybody
scattered. Their thoughts were undoubtedly similar: ''Rain I can handle. I'm not in the mood to get struck
by lightning." Almost instantly, everybody was soaked to the skin, no matter what they were wearing.
"It couldn't have rained any harder," Schneider said.
Within three minutes, the rain slackened. Lincoln's players, many covered in mud, frolicked up the
concrete steps to their locker room. Mastbaum's players dragged behind, walking slowly, heads
occasionally shaking back and forth in bewilderment.
When Lajara reached the landing at the top of the steps, he said, "I couldn't see the ball. It matched in
with the sky."
Adami asked Schneider whether Mastbaum's team bus was in the parking lot on the other side of the
"I don't know," Schneider said. "If not, we'll swim home."
In the locker room, Adami couldn't help but gush.
"I've never played in, coached in or seen as a fan anything like that," he said. "How could you possibly
tell somebody about all that and expect them to believe you?"
Ted's note: Sorry for the long post, but I figured it would be better to just recount the scenario the way
it had been done in the paper. Lajara did not let the disappointment get him down. He graduated from
Gwynedd-Mercy and became a teacher and the last time I "saw" him was on I-95. On a billboard. He's
now a principal at Stetson Middle School and G-M highlights him in an ad. Also, click here for a
YouTube video prepared by the G-M folks. Continued success, Renny!
Many Happy Returns . . .
In the '99 football season, Franklin's William Waters kept telling his coach, Allen Rushing, he
could do wonders with a football in his hands. He proved it Oct. 1. As the Electrons dumped
visiting West Philly, 18-12, the 6-1, 220-pound defensive end, a senior, became the first player in
city scholastic history to score on fumble returns on consecutive plays from scrimmage. Waters's
first score came when he picked up a botched snap on a punt and ran 7 yards into the end zone.
On West's next play, Jermaine Smith hammered the quarterback and the ball popped loose. This
time Waters covered 19 yards. City-leagues defenders have been allowed to return fumbles only
since 1988. "That was a first-time experience,'' Waters said. "I was loving every moment of it.
On the first one, our other defensive end, Boe Davis, was tying up the punter. I jumped over them,
got it and there was the end zone. I was so hyper. I always wanted to have a ball in my hands. On
the second one; you sure it was only 19 yards? Felt like 40. The guys said somebody was chasing
me, but I put on the burners and left him.'' Believe it or not, that feat was matched in '07 by Gratz'
Elijah Akbar, a 6-2, 200-pound end. In the Bulldogs' 37-26 Thanksgiving loss to Chester, he posted
fumble-return TDs of 12 and 36 yards on, yes, consecutive scrimmage plays. "I guess you could
say it was luck," Akbar said the following Monday in a phone interview. "But it does take some skill.
Like knowing where the ball is. I didn't know it was anything special until my dad saw" a mention in
Friday's Daily News. "I just knew it was fun." He explained the plays by saying, "The first one,
their quarterback was trying to pass when I pushed the running back into him. The ball popped loose.
Nobody was there. It was easy to score. The second one was a quarterback sneak. (Tackle) Earl
Watford forced a fumble. I saw it and picked it up. They almost caught me. A guy was trying to
tackle me. Had to drag him into the end zone."
Ted's note: What were the chances TWO guys would accomplish such an unusual feat? I'm thinking
astronomical. The Pub being the Pub, however, I have a feeling it'll happen again some day. Maybe
even twice in one season (smile).
That's What Friends Are For . . .
In 1990, Ken Hamilton was in his 19th season of coaching Ben Franklin. On Feb. 25, during a
Pub semifinal played at the no-longer-exists Civic Center (nee Convention Hall), he steered
Franklin Learning Center to a 73-59 win over Bartram. It was all about friendship and making
adjustments on the fly, the result of a sad situation. FLC-Bartram was the second game of a
doubleheader. During the first, which saw Gratz dominate West Philadelphia, 64-47, FLC coach
Pete Merlino suffered a heart attack and was rushed to the Hospital of the University of
Pennsylvania. Lou Williams, FLC's JV coach, was not in attendance. Paul Rieser, Merlino's
volunteer assistant, was not permitted to take sole control of the Bobcats because he was not a
school district employee. Merlino's identical twin, John, went to the hospital with his brother and
the question became, once officials decided to play the game, "Who will coach FLC?" Ultimately,
knowing of the friendship between Pete and Ken (they both taught at Franklin), Mitchell Kurtz,
head of the Pub coaches, asked Hamilton to guide the Bobcats. "Hey, Pete's my buddy," Hamilton
said. "There's not too much I wouldn't do to help him out. I fumbled for a couple names, but I know
his players' games and their personalities, so everything worked fine." Bartram coach George
Tomosky told his team of the situation just before the game. "I couldn't keep something like that
a secret from them," Tomosky said. ''We even said a prayer for him. My kids appeared to be very
cool and very loose going out, like no pressure was on them, but they played flat. We didn't play
our ballgame. I don't know why." While acknowledging that having one school's coach guide
another school's team was "unorthodox," Pub sports czar Tom Jacoby said that, "under the
circumstances, there was nothing else we could do. We talked to the Bartram people. They
understood." When John Merlino, FLC's girls' coach, returned to the Civic Center, 3:42 remained
in the first quarter and FLC trailed, 5-3. Hamilton, Rieser and John sat together for the rest of the
game, along with Charles Staniskis, the team's faculty adviser.
Ted's note: I can't imagine such a scenario has unfolded too often in world basketball history. It
was truly amazing to see Hamilton, whose squad had been eliminated in the round of 16, take over
the Bobcats. That relationship did not last, however. Frank Guido, FLC's principal, asked Hamilton
to step aside, and he put the Bobcats in John's control for the upcoming final vs. Gratz. Gratz won,
80-60, behind a pair of future NBAers, senior Aaron McKie and frosh Rasheed Wallace . . . Flash
forward to '98. Franklin and FLC met for the title. Franklin won that one, 61-56, and Hamilton then
retired. Pete replaced him for the '99 season. Shortly after this first game, a 45-28 win over Dobbins,
he suffered another heart attack. He passed two days later. His funeral, held in South Jersey, drew
a gigantic crowd and Franklin sent two buses packed with players and other students. Every last
one showed emotion. After a game in mid-January 2000, guard Lafay Johnson said, "Losing Mr.
Merlino was like seeing the world come to an end, like what people were saying was going to happen
with Y2K. Mr. Merlino was like a father. I loved that man. When he died, it hit us so hard." RIP, Pete.
You Can't Makeup This Stuff . . .
For a game in the 1995 baseball season, one-third of William Penn's starters did something
different than you'd ever expect. They wore makeup. Yes, three of the starting Lions in a game
vs. Lamberton were actually Lionesses. Penn dropped baseball and softball after the '93 season
and only baseball was reinstated for '95. By rule, gals were allowed to give it a whirl. Coach Vic
Otarola's squad wound up with four females and Shrell Russ, then a freshman, bagged what was
believed to be the city's first female hit when she lined a single to left against one of Division C's
top pitchers, University City's Willie Davis. Otarola said one of Lamberton's players yelled out,
"I guess we can't use the phrase, 'Swings like a girl' anymore!!' " The other Lionesses were Roshell
Oliver, Tonia Brown and Devon Edwards. Russ was first to join the ballclub. She saw signs
around school advertising tryouts and decided, per instructions, to report to "Mr. O." When she
found him and said she wanted to play, Otarola outlined the procedure and gave his blessing after
checking with Penn and school district officials. The three others followed one by one. "I was
nervous," Otarola acknowledged. "I wasn't sure they'd be able to play without getting injured. But
when they came to practice, they caught the ball, threw the ball, got up in the cage and took their
hacks . . . They stuck with it, so I stuck with them. I'm happy they're here. So are the boys."
Ted's note: The day I covered Penn vs. King, the former lost by 15-2 and was no-hit in a game that
was halted, by mutual consent, after 3 1/2 innings. Penn fanned 12 times (four times in one inning)
and put just one ball in play, a comebacker to the mound. Russ, batting seventh, went 0-for-2 with
two strikeouts. The second baseman's only fielding chance came in the first inning, when she
retreated slightly to catch Anthony Medlock's way-up-there popup. Oliver, batting ninth, drew walks
in both of her plate appearances. She, too, had just one chance on defense. She ended the third
inning by snagging a throw from catcher Ruben Rios, who had dropped a third strike. "When I came
to Penn and saw they didn't have softball, I thought, 'I guess my ballplaying career is over,' " Russ
said. "Then the baseball thing happened and I wondered, 'Can I really play against boys? ' Now, I
hope to do this three more years. I figure I'll get better and better." King's pitcher that day was
Gerald Pageot. "I never knew girls could be on a baseball team," he said. "I never pitched to one.
It was kind of funny. I didn't know what it would feel like to strike out a girl. It felt good. I wanted
to either walk them or strike them out. I didn't want them (putting the ball in play). If they got a hit,
oh, man, my teammates would have been laughing at me the rest of the season. I have to give them
a clap, though. Those girls have heart." . . . Meanwhile, in the 1985 season, Penn's softball team
had a star played named Sara Padro. Two things set her apart. As a member of the Pentecostal
Church, she was bound to wearing skirts in public. Yes, even on the field. Also, she was deaf. Coach
Bernie Handler likened Sara to Pete Rose. "She's only the second girl I've had in six years who is
not afraid to use a head-first slide. It seems like she's had bumps, bruises and burns for two years
straight." And then, there were the unintentional delays she caused. "In a quarterfinal playoff last year
against Roxborough," Handler said, ''we had to hold up the game for close to 10 minutes because
Sara stole third and her hearing aid got lost in the dust around the base. It happened in a game this
year with Kensington, too."
Some Losses Get Redefined . . .
As the 2001-02 basketball season neared its conclusion, Bartram was still hoping to become
just the seventh city-leagues team since 1950 to finish with a perfect record. Then, the Braves
played Franklin at the First Union Center in a Sixers-TrailBlazers prelim and lost, 77-73. The
question then became, WHAT did they lose? Ultimately, the contest was ruled a scrimmage.
The players wore uniforms, refs blew whistles (though one was the brother of Bartram's coach,
Lou Biester), fans paid admission and the score was tracked on the scoreboard. However, neither
team kept an official scorebook and the time was broken into halves rather than quarters. The
teams met because of a long-time friendship between Biester and Franklin's coach, Larry Gainey,
a former Bartram star. One Bartram starter, 6-9 junior Jason Cain, did not participate. Playing
time was shared almost equally between starters and subs. Said Bartram junior forward Khalil
Abdus-Salaam: "Coach was switching in a new group every 6 minutes. C'mon, this can't count.
I was playing point guard. Everybody was joking around. No one was taking it serious. (Starting
wing guard) Bryant Leach was shooting (foul shots) lefthanded. We didn't want to take a chance
on injuries. Guys weren't going hard to the hole. We were mostly shooting threes. Coach Biester
told us the game wouldn't be on our record and to just have fun. Franklin's guys were messin'
around, too. Then near the end, they got all serious, like it was a real game."
Ted's note: So, what happened? The game, eventually, was ruled a scrimmage. So, did the
Braves finish the season with a perfect record? Nope. In a semi at La Salle University, the
strangely unfocused Braves (then 26-0) fell to Strawberry Mansion, 69-60. Biester said the Braves
did not practice well all week and were very tentative once the game began. "We were going
through the motions," he said. "We stopped doing what got us here and didn't take care of the ball."
Bartram's focus problems were evident as the first quarter ended. Though the coaches were yelling,
no one heard and no one realized the clock was running down. The buzzer sounded as someone
dribbled, far from the basket. I've always wondered if the "scrimmage" threw the Braves off course.
It took place on Feb. 25, a Monday. The next day, Bartram beat visiting Southern in a quarterfinal
and the semi took place five days thereafter, on Sunday.
First Game. Last Game. None in Between . . .
The Pub's 1972-73 basketball season lasted all of two games. The reason: a strike by teachers
that dragged on and on and on. Luckily, someone rode to the rescue. Sonny Hill, whose summertime
hoops program was already in full bloom by this point, created the Sonny Hill Winter League and,
best of all, he found a way to maintain the integrity of the Pub. He kept each school's team in tact
-- as much as possible anyway; some guys did disappear because their family needed money and
they wound up working -- and used coaches from the summer program to take over the winter
teams. Because of the strike, schools were unavailable, but Hill was able to convince the city to
allow games in the various rec centers. Even better, Hill pushed harder and harder and was able to
score Temple's McGonigle Hall as the site for important playoffs and -- drum roll, please -- the
Palestra for the championship game. This was a major coup! In the previous few seasons, crowd
control had become a major issue and there'd even been a stabbing inside a gym during a playoff.
Title games had been played in Pub schools since 1962 and the previous four had been played at
Lincoln even though no participating schools were remotely close. The final was a pip. Gratz beat
Ted's note: I've often wondered if the strike "destarched" Pub hoops for a while. The '72 season
was tremendous with future NBAers such as Bartram's Joe "Kobe's Father" Bryant, Germantown's
Mike Sojourner, Overbrook's Rich Laurel and even Central's Phil Walker (just beginning to scratch
the surface; he blossomed at D-2 Millersville and was a member of the Bullets' 1978 NBA champs).
Roxborough's Chubby "Kobe's Uncle" Cox (yes, Joe married Chubby's sister) was the only '73 grad
to make The League and the '74, '75 and '76 classes were completely dry. At least an upswing was
beginning, though, and the Class of '77 produced West Philly's Gene Banks and Overbrook's Lewis
Lloyd. The '77 through '80 seasons were tremendous. Anyway, Sonny Hill deserves as much credit
as you can possibly give him for saving the '73 Pub season. As do all the people who helped him by
also donating their time. One last funny note: in one of the '73 semifinals, a Dobbins player, upset
about spending too many minutes on the bench, stood up and told his coach he was going to get a
drink of water. Instead, he scurried to the scorers' table and tried to check back into the game.
The Constitution Allows for Double-Forfeit Fever . . .
Our posting for July 18 highlighted the fact that Randolph and Science Leadership met before the
official start date in the 2008-09 season and, thus, had to suffer the embarrassment of having their
first varsity games in school history go into the books as forfeits. Welllllll, a year-plus later,
Constitution played its first Public League game and . . . it also stormed into the Forfeit Club. At
South Philly's Shot Tower Rec Center, with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter and Constitution on
top by 46-30 over World Communications Charter, all hell broke . Punches were thrown. Both
benches completely emptied. Spectators also came streaming onto the court to get involved in
pushing/yelling. Just as order was being restored, emotions flared again. More insults flew back and
forth between the players and coaches and there was minor shoving, but nothing to rival the original
flare-up, though WC coach Kenyatta McKinney said the parent of a Constitution player did invite
his top player, Markeith Mont, "outside for a fair one.'' Soon, McKinney was herding his players to
the safety of the locker room and Constitution's principal, Dr. Thomas Davidson, was ordering his
school's cheerleaders to leave the premises because they'd razzed the WC players as they walked by.
And the lead referee, Chris Green, who worked the game with Mark "Frog" Carfagno, was placing
a call to the PL hoops chairman, Charles Sumter. And Sumter was saying to halt it; only seven players
(combined) were still available after numerous ejections were made. "I also feared for everyone's
safety," Sumter said. "Not being there, I didn't know for sure about the situation. I'm not taking
chances.'' At 8:30 that night, Pub sports czar Robert Coleman ruled the game a double forfeit. Also,
he said both schools would forfeit their next games (Math, Civics and Sciences for Constitution;
Randolph for World Comm on Monday) and then be unable to use the ejected players in their
ensuing games (Douglas for Constitution; Boys' Latin for World Comm.)
Ted's note: Constitution provided more Only in the Pub fodder that season. After the Generals won
their first state playoff game, 49-31 at Millersburg (about 20 miles north of Harrisburg), coach Rob
Moore reported that they departed at 8:45 and arrived back in Philly 45 minutes past midnight!
Their bus broke down three times. In its next game, Constitution (7th & Market) met Girard College
(footsteps from SJ Prep). So, what neutral site did the honchos pick? Coatesville. I kid you not.
She Quit in the Nikki of Time . . .
In the 1991 football season, Roxborough senior Andrea "Nikki" Williams (5-11, 148) became the
first female in city history to see action in the regular portion of a game. Though "action" is used
very loosely. On what turned out to be the final play in the Indians' 36-0 rout of visiting Southern
-- lightning then sent everyone home -- coach Cliff Hubbard put Williams, a wideout, on the field
and purposely called for a run to the opposite side, making contact less likely. Williams had
participated in drills and taken turns on both sides of tackling dummies to this point, but had not yet
absorbed an actual hit, let alone the bone-jarring variety. "I guess Mr. Hubbard is scared for me,"
Williams said. "I want to do it." Said her father, Douglas: "My wife (Edna) and I are proud of Nikki,
but we're frightened. We're aware of the possibility of her getting hurt. We know there's a chance
for broken bones, even something past that point. That's what really scares us. When she gets that
first hit, maybe she'll be discouraged. I just hope she won't be hurt." Because she hadn't expected to
play, Williams was shocked when Hubbard waved her into action. "I was kind of nervous," she said.
"I could hear Southern's guys saying, 'I'm going to stick her. ' I thought they were going to tackle me.
I was on the right. The play went to the left. I ran straight downfield. There was nobody there." As a
little girl, Williams hung out with the boys. "I used to play with all boys," she said. "Play sports, climb
trees, even get into fistfights. I didn't play with Barbie dolls. Football, I think, is a sport for guys and
girls. Not too many girls go out for a football team. I like the sport. That's why I'm out there. I want
to show that girls can play football, too. Unless I get hurt, there's no way I'm quitting. Some of the
guys used to holler at me if I didn't know a play. But now, everybody's supportive."
Ted's note: Williams' appearance against Southern turned out to be a one-and-done deal. Two weeks
later, while Roxborough was cruising to a 34-6 win over visiting Gratz, Hubbard gave Williams the
opportunity to play again. She declined, explaining, "They never let me hit anybody," she said. "Even
when we do the bags, Mr. Hubbard never calls my name." Said Hubbard: "We don't have live
contact in practice. Nikki said she wants some hitting, so she can get used to it. Before the game, she
told me she didn't want to play (without being specific). I told her, 'You can't choose which games
you're going to play in.' I was going to ask for her uniform. But we'll see what happens next week.
We'll give her some more work. Her parents said the same thing I did: 'If you're not going to play,
you might as well turn in your equipment.' " That was what happened. By the way, in '90, Robin
Selbst (Washington) had become the city's first female player. She'd gone 1-for-3 on PATs. She'd done
no kicking off. In '97, a female finally experienced contact as Syrieta Bard played for University City
on special teams. In '98, she saw action in five games as a backup linebacker before leaving the team.
In her last appearance, she picked up a 15-yard penalty for a late hit out of bounds. In 2007,
linelady Christiana Morales saw some spot duty for Edison. In 2009, Michelle "Mickey" Grace was
given two shots at scoring for Germantown in a 48-0 win over Boys' Latin. Grace lost a yard on a
carry near the goal line, then was stopped short moments later on the conversion after Tyrone Jones
ran 3 yards for the final TD. Grace made MUCH bigger news at the end of the school year. Because
of chronic lateness, Grace was banned from participating in the graduation ceremony even though she
was the class president. The Daily News and other media outlets gave her situation major attention.
Arlene Ackerman overruled the principal, Margaret Mullen, and allowed Grace to be part of the
proceedings, causing even more of an uproar.
So, Did We Lose? . . .
It's not often a baseball player asks that question after a game. But in 2002, those were the first
words out of the mouth of Frankford pitcher Dave Firth after a game with visiting Central was
halted. Though Frankford led at the time, 7-2, plate umpire Chuck Gephart ejected Frankford
coach Bob Peffle after a bizarre, ugly scene during which Peffle, at high volume and in dramatic
fashion, berated Gephart and base ump Bill Tsafos by calling them "garbage." Gephart then halted
the game and awarded Frankford a forfeit win. As the players and maybe 50 spectators watched
in amazement, the situation got worse after Peffle was tossed and Gephart briskly walked out.
From a spot near the opening in the fence that fronts Dyre Street, across from Frankford's football
stadium, Peffle shouted toward Gephart that he was wrong for "abandoning the game" and repeated
the garbage reference. Gephart, clearly agitated, was throwing gear into the trunk of his car, parked
maybe 40 yards away on Rutland Street. The two exchanged several choice remarks. Peffle did not
curse. Gephart did and threatened Peffle with violence before driving off. The play that set off
Peffle was a hit batsman. Peffle contended John Hickey did not move while being plunked by a
curve. He asked Gephart to ask Tsafos for help. Gephart's response: "I've got it. No help needed."
In Frankford's fifth, Peffle had scorched Gephart from the third-base coach's box. When a Frankford
player complained that Gephart had called an apparently low pitch a strike, Gephart told everyone
in the bench area to shut up. Peffle got involved and Gephart told him, "Tell them to shut up!"
Peffle then said, so everyone could hear: "OK, they're going to be quiet. Now I'm going to talk.
That pitch was low and everyone here saw it!"
Ted's note: Peffle is one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet and Gephart has always
hit me as a good dude, too. This was just one of those inexplicable developments, folks. That night,
after major checking with all involved, Pub baseball chairman Joe Stanley said Gephart had improperly
halted the game and that it would be resumed nine days later. Didn't happen. Central declined to
return and Frankford was awarded the win. Central coach Bob Barthelmeh said he, his principal, Dr.
Sheldon Pavel, and athletic director, Frank Greco, agreed it made no sense to dismiss the players
early for 1 1/2 innings, especially in a week when two other league games were scheduled. Barthelmeh
said Central's tri-captains, Steve Hopkins, Noah White and Ryan Meyer, did not protest the move.
"No way," Barthelmeh said, "did we want the players to think we were giving in or giving up. It just
didn't make sense, we felt, to go back there." Last note: When the game was halted, Central DID
have the bases loaded with one away.
Miracle of the Martin (Almost) . . .
Perhaps you've heard of the Miracle of the Meadowlands. In 1978, the Eagles beat the Giants
when Eagles DB Herman Edwards picked up a fumble and ran 26 yards for a last-play TD. The
play was such a stunner because QB Joe Pisarcik needed only to take a knee, but instead tried a
handoff. So . . . . in 2002, Northeast had a 17-14 lead over Franklin at Charlie Martin Memorial
Stadium with 7 seconds left when coach Harvey "Brew" Schumer ordered a run by fullback Mark
Pasley. Pasley was struggling for extra yardage when Jestin Brisbon, also Franklin's top rusher,
stole the ball, took off and kept running and running and got tackled about 70 yards later, ONE
step from the end zone, by tailback Stanley Ebron. "The miracle this time was that Stanley
caught him," Schumer said. "The kid had such a lead. I thought it was going to be a TD. I would
have hung myself in the locker room." Schumer did not have his quarterback take a knee because
he did not want to give Franklin a last play. "Next time," he said, "we'll take the knee and take
Ted's note: This sequence was part of a very strange weekend. Here are some of the other things
that happened: With the ball 1 yard from the end zone, a team's top rusher asked to come out of
the game because he needed a rest. His incredulous coach did not grant the request . . . A West
Philly player downed a punt with only a quick touch of the ball. A Gratz player scooped it up and
ran 70 yards for a TD. The refs gabbed, then erased the score. Gratz threw no passes in its 22-3
win. Neither did Overbrook in a 2-0 win over University City . . . Standing on his own 27, 33 yards
away, Roxborough's Ed Fairfax was hit flush in the facemask by David Pough's kickoff . . . After
Olney scored vs. Southern, a few guys ran to the line for the conversion and someone yelled from
the huddle, "Come back, y'all. We didn't call the play yet!" I'm guessing there was a full moon in
there somewhere. (Just found a website that lists full moons: There WAS one during that weekend!)
Going for Homers (and Broke) . . .
In a 1986 baseball quarterfinal, none of the fences surrounding Northeast's field was going to
prevent Mastbaum's Joe Malak from three times wreaking havoc. Time No. 1 happened in the
first inning, when Malak, a senior first baseman, lofted a two-run home run to left-center. Time
No. 2 happened in the fifth, when Malak rocketed a three-run homer to dead center. Time No. 3
happened in the sixth, when Malak, a lefthanded batter, sliced a foul toward Algon Street. The
ball cleared a 35-foot retaining fence, sailed toward the apartment house across the street, and
crashed through two windows. Yes, two. The lower portion in some gent's apartment - the guy
later appeared briefly at an adjacent window to survey the damage - had been raised to make
room for a portable air conditioner. Never let it be said that Joe Malak, who went 3-for-4 with
five RBI in Mastbaum's 11-7 victory, couldn't hit a ball hard enough to break a pane of glass.
"I watched it go across and hit the window, then I looked around. I knew everybody would be
smiling," Malak said. "First time I ever did that. That fence is high, too. I was surprised it went
over. I was thinking, 'Since we're not playing at our field, I don't think I'll have to pay.' The guys
were saying, 'Send the bill to Malak's house . . . Somebody'll be coming after you for this, Joe.' "
Ted's note: This game was played on June 10, a Friday. The next day, Joe and three of his
buddies -- North Catholic athletes Marc Alicea (basketball) and Chris Lemma (soccer) and a
1987 grad, Tom Mullen -- headed for Wildwood, N.J., for a Senior Week stretch. And Joe was
not about to disclose the address, lest the guy come looking for replace-the-window cash (smile).
By the way, we had a photographer at this game and the guy's pic wound up in the paper,
checking out the smashed windows. A classic Pub moment.
This Game Wasn't Exactly a Hit . . .
On May 19, 1978, Central righthander Joe Starosta hurled his second no-hitter of the season.
And this time . . . He had company! Yes, on the same field! Germantown righty Ricky Ford also
spun a no-no, though the Bears suffered the heartbreak of a 1-0 loss. Starosta fanned 13 and
permitted nothing even close to a basehit. Ford -- in the hospital less than a month beforehand
with an irrregular heart beat and making just his second start since coming back -- whiffed six
and received a lot of help from his friends. "We hit some shots," said Lancer Coach Bob Cullman,
"but their centerfielder, Wendell Williams [he wound up playing at the University of Pennsylvania]
made about four great catches. He's left-handed and he took one on the dead run in right center,
stretching across his body. He also took one right in front of the fence." Central scored its run in
the second. After Jeff Chapman walked, Tom Scheliga laid down a sacrifice bunt that drew the
attention of the third baseman but was handled by the catcher. The third baseman did not get
back in time to cover his bag and Chapman hustled over. Mark Santore followed with a grounder
to third that was booted. "You know, just before that sacrifice bunt," said Germantown coach Dan
Kopycienski, our catcher made a pickoff throw to first and the guy was almost out. If Central
hadn't scored, we'd have gone on for 20 innings. It was that kind of game." Starosta was perfect
until a leadoff walk to Andy Jones in the seventh. Jones was immediately doubled on a popped
sacrifice bunt, then Williams drew a walk and stole second. The final batter fanned.
Ted's note: Another Pub classic followed shortly thereafter in the form of a coin flip to decide
second place in Division B. G-town and Roxborough finished in a flat-out tie and the flip was held
at Southern, with Kopycienski and Roxborough coach Cliff Hubbard on phones at their respective
schools. Kopycienski allowed Hubbard to make the call. He went with tails and lost. Here's a
description of that moment from G-town's second baseman, Andy "Coconut" Jones: "It was pretty
cool. We weren't allowed in the gym office with Coach (Dan) Kopycienski, but he was on the
phone with the people at Southern and he told the whole school what was going on over the
loudspeaker. He said, 'There's the coin . . . It's in the air . . . It's coming down . . . It's spinning on
the floor . . . It looks like heads . . . A-l-l-r-i-g- h-t, we're in the playoffs. ' We were all excited."
Bulldogs Go Down WITH a Fight . . .
The July 11 posting highlighted a 1985 basketball game that ended early because Kensington had
just one player still available in the final moments of a game with Frankford. Well, in 1987, Gratz
forfeited to Franklin Learning Center when its number of available players fell to four with 0:52
showing. But the low number was not the reason. Prompting the decision by coach Bill Ellerbee
was a fight between between Gratz's Duane Wilkes and FLC's Mike Terry, and its aftermath.
Following a missed free throw by Gratz's Eddie Savage, Wilkes and Terry simultaneously gained
possession of the rebound, resulting in a jump ball call by referee Joe DeMayo. Wilkes and Terry
then began fighting, and both teams charged onto the court. When order was restored, Wilkes and
Terry were hit with flagrant technicals, and ejected. Gratz was left with four players. Because of
illness, Ellerbee had only seven of his 11 varsity players available. Two, Andre Armour and Andre
Ware, previously had fouled out. Ellerbee said he refused to heed DeMayo's orders to return his
team to the court for three reasons: what he said was a reversal of DeMayo's original explanation
of what would happen upon the resumption of play, his feeling that Wilkes should not have been
ejected, and concern for his team's safety. "First, DeMayo said we'd shoot a two-shot foul, then
both teams would shoot two T's, then we'd get the ball because of the possession arrow," Ellerbee
said. "Then he talked to me again and we weren't shooting our two- shot foul anymore. Duane
Wilkes never threw a punch, not by any stretch of the imagination. I'd like to see the day he does.
I'll know he has arrived as a player. Also, there was a volatile situation there, one that could have
possibly gotten out of control." DeMayo, who worked the game with Gary Butler, said he never
mentioned to Ellerbee that Gratz would receive more free throws than FLC. "How could that
have been? It was a jump ball situation," DeMayo said. ''Bill Ellerbee is a good coach and a class
guy, but I question whether he would have stopped playing if his team was ahead by five."
Ted's note: I didn't see this game, so it was tough to untangle everything via telephone. Ellerbee
intended to protest, but I can't find evidence of a follow-up story in our database. Ellerbee was
recently hired as Penn Charter's director of basketball operations, so to speak, in tandem with new
coach Lynard Stewart, who starred for him at Gratz and was the DN City Player of the Year in
'94. He was one of the best coaches in city scholastic history and DeMayo, still doing college
games, was one of the best refs. But they surely butted heads this time around.
Ain't This a Punt in the Butt . . .
In the '92 and '01 football seasons, following games involving the ever-goofy Edison Owls, this
note appeared in boxscores: " . . . recovered punt in end zone." Notice what detail word was not
included? Blocked. It wasn't included because the balls weren't blocked. The punts were flat-out
bad and trickled into the end zone, just waiting to be recovered by the opposition. In '92, the
opponent was Mastbaum. Edison's Raul Valentin saw a snap sail far over his head. He picked
up the ball in the end zone and punted it sideways into the far corner. Forrest Pearson fell on the
ball for a touchdown. This made national news. After reading about it in the DN, USA Today
mentioned the play, then Pearson and Mastbaum coach John Murphy were interviewed by Jim
Lampley on a national radio show. In '01, Edison's Keenan Nelson punted the ball at the goal line.
It popped straight up and bounced a yard deep, where Franklin's Bryant Jennings recovered for
Ted's note: In that '92 game, there was another crazy play. Edison's first punter that day was
Steve Wallace. After chasing down a bad snap, he avoided a rush and punted a low line drive.
About 10 yards away, the ball drilled teammate Robert Bettis, who had turned around to see what
was happening, in the stomach. Bettis held on, turned upfield and wound up with a 6-yard gain.
The refs said the play was legal because Bettis made the catch behind the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, though 98 percent of the punts in Edison's school history have produced disasters
(smile), there was also this sequence in 2009 vs. King: the Owls twice kept a drive alive by
recovering fumbles by punt returners. The recoveries went to Joaquin Melendez at King's 37 and
to Tim Torres at the 9. Alas, two plays later, Edison's Luis Ortiz dropped the ball while handing
off and King's James Colburne recovered at the 10. Wait, there's more. On third down, Torres
was in the process of sacking Donavan Bowman in the end zone when Bowman tossed the ball
forward. The play appeared to be a clear case of intentional grounding in the zone, and that would
have resulted in a safety. The refs met and met some more and decided to call it a fumble.
Melendez had made the recovery at the 2. Ortiz surged forward to score on the first play.
Where's a Cloud When You Need It? . . .
In the 1980 basketball season, Franklin's game at Dobbins was delayed not because the floor got
wet or a rim got bent or someone suffered a serious injury or the fans got too chipper . . . Nope,
this one was delayed because of sunshine! Then, as now, there are three very tall windows at the
west end of Dobbins' gym, along 22nd Street. The one in the middle is closest to the basket and
in late afternoon the sun can become a serious issue. This day, only one of the two old curtains
was still in place -- the other had tumbled to the floor -- so as the game reached halftime anyone
trying to shoot from the right side had no prayer and Ken Hamilton, Franklin's coach, was finally
able to convince the refs, Tommy McClain and Sid Doman, that he could not effectively coach
his team without getting blinded (smile). Halftime lasted an extra eight minutes; everyone hoped
the sun would move enough to make things a little easier. Things were a shade easier when play
resumed, but Hamilton kept shading his eyes and moving around like crazy.
Ted's note: This game was played on Feb. 21. Just before Christmas, in a trivia quiz, I'd asked
our DN readers, "When was the last time a game at Dobbins came off without a hitch?" The
answer was, "Your guess is as good as mine." Then THIS happened. The paper included a pic
of McClain standing next to the window, looking up into the brightness. Sandy Beach, Dobbins'
athletic director, called to complain that I'd embarrassed her school. First, I don't pick the photos
that run with the stories (don't write the headlines, either), but I did tell her that the photo did
perfectly illustrate what had happened. So, what happened maybe 10 days later? She called to
apologize and thank me. Reason: the school district had finally sent out someone to fix the problem
by replacing the second curtain. She'd been asking and asking. Nothing. After the photo/pic caused
a stir, the wheels finally began turning. By the way, a similar problem exists in Lincoln's new gym.
Trying shots from corners on the north side can be very dicey for parts of games because of high
windows that allow in unfiltered sunshine.
Officially Wacky . . .
In 2002, basketball ref Mark Vinitzky worked two games with 3:15 start times. Say what?! Let's
begin at Northeast, where the Vikings' game with King did not start until a shade after 4 because
not even one ref showed up until then. That guy was Kevin Williams, who explained that he worked
in Delaware and added, "Just when I was getting ready to leave, I got called into a special meeting.
I did call here to let them know I'd be late." The original second guy never did appear, but Williams
was joined for the second half by Vinitzky. He'd worked Central's game at Edison and, as he
explained, "It went kind of fast and I figured this game would be good. I came past thinking maybe
I'd get here in time to watch the fourth quarter." Ah, the fourth quarter. Northeast entered it trailing
by 47-41, but won, 60-57, despite losing its co-headliners, Troy Roundtree and Chaz Crawford,
to foul trouble. Northeast coach Elsa Cohen said she declined to call off the game because, "The
problem is always, when do you reschedule it?" she said. "Greg (Moore, King's coach) was OK
with waiting. Yes, it was a long wait, but we knew at least one ref was coming. We're used to this.
This is our third game with one ref. I don't know what's going on." As for Ref No. 2 . . . "This was
fun," Vinitzky said. "Shame there's not a third game I can go to."
Ted's note: Know who else was on this Vikings squad? Soph guard Kyle Lowry, the future
Villanova star and NBAer. (He transferred to Dougherty for his junior year.) During the long delay,
I overheard Lowry saying, "We should just go home. I don't even feel like playing now." But once
the game unfolded, he shot 6-for-11 (one trey) and 9-for-10 for 22 points. He also scurried for seven
rebounds and two steals. When asked about his go-home comment, he smiled and said, "I was just
saying that. I always want to play. I was just bored. All that waiting was getting to me. I didn't know if
we'd ever play. This was a great win. We lost our big scorer in Troy and our big shot-blocker in
Chaz and we still came out on top. This will give us even more confidence that we can come
through in the clutch. When Troy goes out, that's my time. It's automatic that I have to look to score
more. I even told Troy, 'Don't worry, I am going to step up!' King didn't want to cover me. They
kept giving me the baseline. You do that, I'm taking it. They gave me room for threes, too. And
when they did try to play me, they were too slow. I didn't mind going to the line. I'm good there, too."
As you can see by his comments, Kyle was feisty even then. In a semifinal that year, he exploded
for 29 points -- most by a soph in a Pub since some guy named Wilt Chamberlain had 35 in 1953
The Fresh Prince of Mid-Air . . .
Hey, he was just following the lead of Will Smith. Though an Overbrook grad, and even someone
who had tried out (unsuccessfully) for the basketball team, Smith wore a West Philadelphia baseball
jersey in the video that accompanied his smash hit "Summertime" in 1991. That following winter,
just days before the annual brawl in what was then the city's best hoops rivalry, West-'Brook,
star guard Laurence "L" Pembrook pulled a vice-versa and transferred from the former to the latter.
After the school district was unable to prove that Pembrook (he actually lived closer to 'Brook, at
54th and Master) had transferred for athletic purposes, he was cleared to compete and collected 18
points, 6 rebounds and 4 apiece of assists and steals in 21 minutes off the bench, thus pacing 'Brook
to a 65-52 win. Where was the game played? AT West. Pembrook's first appearance, which came
with 2:15 left in the first quarter, was greeted with a chorus of boos. But overall, West's faithful were
kind. No objects were thrown. No crude remarks were chanted. It was almost like Pembrook was a
visiting dignitary. For that, credit the athlete himself. Pembrook took the understated approach. Only
late in the game, when he howled and pumped his fists while running upcourt after a basket, did
Pembrook show true exuberance. It was as though he was holding a box of matches, which he knew
would be better off doused. "I did that on my own," he said. "I didn't want to make my old
teammates feel bad while I was beating them. "I expected to get booed. If I had my choice, I wouldn't
have wanted the 'Brook-West game to come up so quick. Lots of things were going around. It was
like, 'He just transferred there? Now he's playing against them? ' But it wasn't too rough. I wanted to
win, though. Bad."
Ted's note: The top player on that 'Brook squad, future NBAer Malik Rose, had 17 points and 20
rebounds. Prior to 1984, Pub czar Tom Jacoby stated at the time of the Pembrook Brouhaha, athletes
who transferred after an official starting date for each sport were ineligible for the rest of that season.
That rule was changed for football player Dwayne White, who by '92 was with the New York Jets.
He'd gone from Central to Southern. "Football's official date was Sept. 1," Jacoby said then. "Practices
would start then, but school wouldn't open until after that. Dwayne White practiced with Central for
maybe a week and a half, but when school opened, his transfer came through to Southern. We looked
at the situation and decided he should be allowed to play at Southern." Before he was OK'd to play
for Overbrook, Pembrook was not a happy kid. "It's because I'm Laurence Pembrook. That's why
they want to check everything," he said for a DN story. "If I couldn't play a lick, they wouldn't worry
about me. Plenty of people transfer. Why the big deal about me? Why's my name in the papers? They
say I might be transferring for athletic reasons. What sense does that make? None at all. I'm averaging
26 points on a good team (at 5-2, West is ranked No. 4 in the city by the Daily News) with a national
profile. Everybody knows the Speedboys. College coaches come around. Why would I leave that if
all I cared about was basketball?" In his senior season, 1992-93, Pembrook, an incredible leaper, made
second team All-City. That was the year our first team included four future pros -- Rasheed Wallace,
Jason Lawson, Marc Jackson and Alvin Williams.
Pay, Pay, Please Come My Way . . .
Roughly 75 days after the completion of the 2007 basketball season, referees read in the Daily
News that the Public squad preparing for the 33rd annual Daily News-Eagles City All-Star Football
Game was short on equipment because the school district had not paid past bills for offseason
reconditioning. So, they began peppering the DN with e-mails and voice messages to let us know,
to paraphrase, "What about us? Find out why we haven't been paid! This is a joke." We began to
check around. Numerous officials in all sports said late payments had been a problem for several
years and that the time lag had been steadily increasing. A school-district insider confirmed that.
"Last year," he said, "the spring-sports guys did not get their money until August. Now it's 2 1/2
months after [the PL basketball championship game; and 5 1/2 months since the season began],
and the checks have not gone out. And still might not for a while." Another insider claimed that
spring-sports officials would get their payments by the end of June, the same target date now in
effect for the winter-sports guys. Robert Coleman, the director of athletics for the school district,
did not respond to numerous messages left by the Daily News over the 4 days before the story
ran in the paper. Said one hoops ref: "It's bad enough that you don't get the money. But when you
try to get answers, all you get is a run-around. Keep us informed. Common courtesy." Added
another: "We feel hoodwinked, betrayed, led astray."
Ted's note: Guess what? This kind of problem has not gone away. Here we are in early August
and the baseball umpires have not been paid for their work this past season!!! A couple guys sent
emails and/or called in the past week to 10 days and I decided to run this latest issue past Coleman,
who's still the czar of Pub sports (though of course his hands are tied by the money folks). Here's
his response, as offered by email: "all spring Umps will receive their full pay this month." Let's hope
that promise is met.
Let's Not and Say We Did . . .
In the 2003 baseball season, it's possible yours truly set a national sports writing record by seeing
83 runs in TWO games over a four-day period. The wild stretch began on April 28 as Ryan beat
O'Hara, 20-16. We were juuuuuust getting warmed up, folks. Three days later, on May 1, the trail
took me to Washington, and the Eagles edged Northeast, 24-23. The first two innings gobbled up
the amazing total of 87 minutes and the game, which lasted 4 hours, 6 minutes, didn't end until 7:24!
The sun was just starting to disappear behind the school building when Adam Eisman (five RBI)
lined a single to left to score pinch-runner Justin Presley. As he was being mobbed, Eisman snatched
a semi-page from Ernie Banks' playbook and yelled, "Let's play another one!" Northeast blew leads
of 8-0 and 15-8. There were 40 hits, 8 doubles, 2 triples, no homers, 23 walks, 3 hit batsmen, 17 stolen
bases, 14 errors and 8 wild pitches. Twelve of the runs were unearned. Only three half-innings were
scoreless. In seven, at least nine players batted. Off a full outing three days earlier, Northeast's Andrew
Lihotz pitched twice in relief and went 4.1 innings. (Couldn't do that now due to PIAA restrictions.)
Ted's note: More tidbits from this one . . . Daily News sports writer Mike Kern arrived at 4:45
from a round of golf in South Jersey thinking he'd see two innings. He saw five! His son, Steve, was
GW's shortstop. At 5:56, with only the fourth inning about to end, Northeast soph DH Dennis Heebner
departed for a doctor's appointment. Meanwhile, as chronicled in Randy Seidman's tidbits, Washington
manager Taryn Trachtenberg left to attend a dinner celebration at a nearby restaurant, then made it back
for the second half of the game. Players from two GW teams returned on the bus from road wins, were
picked up by their parents and got home while this game was just in the fifth inning. More of Randy's
tidbits: 6 lead changes, 7 pitching changes, 434 pitches thrown (Northeast "won" that battle, 240-194)
and a combined .657 on-base percentage.
(Click here for the boxscore.)
No Wins? Who Cares? Come Join the Playoffs! . . .
In the 2008 football season, Central became the first team in city sports history to barge into
playoff competition with no wins. As in none. As in zero. How did the Lancers "earn" this
honor? Well, the AAAA portion of the Pub had three divisions and Central was still in what was
considered, by design, the strongest. All five were assured playoff spots (along with two from
White and one from Blue) and, well, an 0-4 record made this possible. Not only was Central 0-4
in division play going into the playoff game, a 33-22 loss to Overbrook, it was 0-6 overall. Sadly,
the Lancers maintained their consistency and finished 0-11 for their first winless season since
Ted's note: Truthfully, this squad wasn't horrible. It lost by four apiece to Dobbins and Lincoln
and was shut out just three times. The Pub folks saw the error of their way immediately. For 2009,
the format was changed so only the top four squads in Red would advance to the playoffs. Good
thing, too, because Overbrook went 0-4 (though it did have one non-league win as the regular
One Out to Go, But Everyone Must Now Go Home . . .
In the 2010 baseball season, a game that became a 9-6 win for Prep Charter was halted with two
away in the home seventh after Swenson coach Shawn Williams was ejected. Reason: There was
no assistant coach on hand and the umps decided not to chance any possible liability issues by
letting things slide. Said Rob Hale, PC's coach: "I'm glad we got the win, but I wish it would have
played itself out. You don't like to see things end that way." Hale said the play that caused the
stoppage occurred with one out and runners on first and second against reliever Mike Sandefur,
who'd replaced starter Mike Borelli. "Their kid (Zach Finch) put a groundball in the hole and my
shortstop, Joe Lind, threw to third for a force (on Steve Brooks)," Hale said. "The base ump called
him out and Shawn got kinda loud when he protested. The ump was saying, 'That's enough!
That's enough! ' But Shawn must have said something else and the plate ump must have heard it
because he was the one who yelled, 'You're outta here!' I don't think it should have happened like
that. It wasn't the plate ump's place to get involved. The Swenson people wanted to get (a spectator)
to coach the rest of the game. The umps said it wasn't allowed."
Ted's note: We were unable to reach Williams that night, but Pub baseball chairman Dave Connolly
confirmed Hale's version of the events (via Williams). This outcome was a far cry from something
that happened back in the day. Last spring in this website's wild/crazy section, we posted a story
about a Lincoln game from 1981. Coach John Constantine was ejected in the sixth inning and star
player Rus Slawter was permitted to guide the Railsplitters the rest of the way.
Triple Tranks for the Memories . . .
In the 2003 football season, King's Sammy Tranks touched the ball just three times in a game
against Olney and scored every time -- a run for 54 yards and a pair of catches totaling 106
yards. Later that season, in a 33-0 win over Franklin, he AGAIN played the role of Miracle Man.
This time, he touched the ball four times and produced three TDs and the first three, yup, were
scores. Time No. 1: As a capper to the game's first series, Tranks caught a 5-yard TD pass from
Jeff Campbell. Time No. 2: This one started, and immediately ended, the Cougars' second
possession. On a play beginning at King's 28, Tranks ran a right-to-middle slant pattern and zoomed
72 yards for a score. Time No. 3: Again, this was a one-play "drive." Tranks took a handoff on a
reverse, eased to his left, made two impressive cuts a shade downfield and arrived in the end zone
with a 67-yard TD. "I think I liked the second touchdown the best," Sammy said. "That was a lot
of fun, especially since I didn't have a catch the last two games. I kept thinking No. 20 (Darrell
Fincher) might catch me because he's a really good player." On his fourth touch, Tranks settled for
a 7-yard run.
Ted's note: Tranks was a junior when this happened and a decent chunk of the story focused on
his piano playing skills, and how he routinely performed at a church in West Philly. "I'm pretty
relaxed on the field, but things are a little nerve-wracking in church," he said. "They're kind of the
same thing, really, because in both you have to play well. The second time I had (an extended
performance in church), things went very smoothly. The first time, well, I did hit one bad note.
I had my back to the congregation, so I didn't know if they noticed." He laughed. "I hoped they
didn't . . . I don't think they did." Sammy wasn't finished with heroics. After his senior year, he was
chosen to play in the City All-Star Game and helped the Pub to a rousing 30-0 victory. Aside from
kicking a field goal, he scored on a 67-yard interception return and had a 42-yard catch in a scoring
Never Underestimate the Power of Gym Class . . .
In the 2008 football season, Franklin's Steve Garrett, wearing No. 88, lined up at tailback for a
trick play and fired a fourth-down scoring pass to slotback Marquis White, normally the tailback.
It was the first pass of his varsity career and gave the Electrons a 12-6 OT win over Roxborough.
Why, you might ask, was Garrett given this opportunity? . . . Because, earlier that same day, he'd
been spotted firing a Nerf ball in a gym class! "One of my fellow teachers told me, 'That kid has a
really strong arm,' " said coach Ken Geiser. On the play preceding the TD, Garrett was going to
pass. Roxborough players broke through the line and Garrett was forced to keep, gaining 1 yard.
Thus, the element of surprise was still in effect. On his TD catch, White was double-covered and,
if he had not made the catch, interference would have been called. After the game, Geiser said
Garrett had never thrown a pass in practice. "I do throw the ball around, but never as part of a
play," Garrett said. "He's got a cannon," White noted. Almost too much of one. "I thought it was
overthrown," Garrett said. "I knew I had to put it out there because Marquis had two defenders
on him. Then, I thought maybe it was going to be an interception. He made that nice catch, though."
Added White: "That play doesn't happen without the lovely blocking by our line. Fourth down,
Roxborough was coming. That play was crazy. He just threw it up there. I caught it. Once it's in
the air, you know what you have to do: Fight for it."
Ted's note: Gotta love this one. Garrett's teammates were going nuts over his big moment,
especially since they knew the back-story. Can you imagine this? You rarely get on the field on
offense, you whip a Nerf ball in gym class, then later that same day throw the winning TD pass
to secure an overtime win. Classic!
This Time, They Really Did Mean ALL-Pub . . .
We go back to the 2008 football season for this one. This is the story, as it appeared:
You know how the release of all-star football teams often causes disappointment?
How there are always guys who just know they should have been honored, but were not for
Well, at Communications Tech, 9-0 for the season and already a two-round winner in state football
playoffs, all 15 kids who start for coach Rob DiMedio are absolutely ecstatic.
Reason? Every last one earned first team All-Public honors in the division for Class A
All together now . . . Only in the Pub.
The selection meeting was Monday night. DiMedio said he was the only A coach (of five) who
"It was a pretty lonely process," DiMedio said. "When I was asking, 'OK, should this kid be on?'
I was the only one answering. I went with what I knew."
Yes, DiMedio realizes it's ridiculous that all of one school's starters have earned first-team honors.
"In every sense of the word," he said, glumly.
Here's how it happened: The all-star squads for the other divisions were released Tuesday by Joe
Stanley, the Pub football chairman. Stanley put DiMedio in charge of polishing A's list, then e-mailed
it to the Daily News (a couple days later).
The division's other members are Delaware Valley Charter, Prep Charter, Future and Freire Charter.
Those schools received, in order, six, two, two and no honorees.
DiMedio said he tried to contact coaches and/or athletic directors at three of the other schools, via
phone and/or e-mail, and received no response. He figured Freire's coaches were no-shows because
of the rumor flying around lately that the school had dropped football. (That did happen, eventually.)
He added the other 10 players based mostly on statistics he was able to find (from this website;
though a couple guys wound up at positions they didn't even play).
Ted's note: Joe Stanley was beside himself over this one. Not mad at DiMedio. Just disappointed and
even hissed that the other guys didn't bother to show up, or at least send word (how hard is it to email?)
about the players they considered to be worthy of All-Pub honors. Years from now, people will see
that year's list and wonder how 15 guys from one school wound up on it. Assuming your memory
holds, you'll be able to tell them (smile).
Flags Don't Look Good on the Ground . . .
In the 1993 football season, when he was a junior, Mastbaum's Antoine Brown lost three TDs
to penalty flags in one game. Since the Panthers crushed Edison, 58-0, it wasn't as if the TDs were
greatly missed, but still . . . Brown did score on an 89-yard kickoff return. He surrendered a 58-yard
punt return, a 29-yard run and ANOTHER 58-yard punt return. "Nah, I won't yell at anybody,"
Brown said, laughing. "I'll just tell them to get their heads together for the next game. If you yell
at people when they make bad mistakes, they still might be thinking about it next time around.
They might go out and do the same thing. Uh-uh. No yelling. I'll just talk." He added later, "On
the first one (that was nullified), everybody was running to congratulate me, all happy. When I
got to the sideline, around where our coaches were, I saw the flag. I put my head down. Our
coaches don't like that. They always say, 'Don't get down. No matter what happens, keep your
head up.' I put my head back up. After the second time, I was kind of feeling mad. After the third
time . . . I didn't know what to do. I was confused, mad, everything. Everybody was telling me,
'Don't worry about it. ' Guys were running over and saying, 'My fault. My fault. ' I didn't know
whether they meant they clipped or didn't block enough guys." Once he settled down, Brown
took a philosophical approach. "I was thinking, 'I guess God didn't want me to get in there more
often today.' "
Ted's note: Go back to the very first line in the posting. See what it says? That Brown was a
junior. Well, when Mastbaum played Edison in '94, he lost out on two MORE long TDs due to
penalties. Brown was quite the character and that season I wrote how he spent $10.50 for seven
wristbands, each colored red, white and blue. He wore two on his wrists, two on his upper arms
and two at his ankles. He wore the other about an inch above his left elbow. "Don't want one on
the other elbow," said Brown, the QB in '94. "Don't want anything interfering with my throwing."
He was serious.
Next Time You Go to Canada, Stick to Hockey . . .
A glance at the 2006 basketball standings for Division C are sure to provide all-time entertainment,
when coupled with an explanation. All of the teams except Delaware Valley Charter played 17
games. D-V's record was 7-5. What happened? Pubness!!! Due to multiple rules violations, the
Warriors were prohibited from playing five games. Their opponents were awarded forfeit wins,
but they were NOT charged with losses. I know. I know. You're scratching your head so hard,
it's about to bleed. The Warriors did forfeit another game for using an ineligible player and that
came on the heels of that season's REAL problem; they played SIX illegal games in Canada. In
just a four-day period, no less. And when asked about that illegal misadventure, coach Alan
Cissorsky misrepresented the results. The Warriors played one club team up there and others with
overaged players, ridiculously clear violations of PIAA rules. D-V was placed on probation until
March 23, 2007. Cissorsky was suspended for the next two scheduled games and D-V was banned
from participating in tournaments in the 2006-07 season. Coleman said at the time, "I would hope
his school disciplines him, too. I'm very disappointed with how he handled himself through all this
. . . All this happened under his leadership. The kids weren't at fault. So this way, at least they still
have a chance to make the playoffs."
Ted's note: Didn't happen. Playoffs, that is. D-V cut ties with Cissorsky at the end of that season
and has gone through four more coaches since then. The regular forfeit resulted from the use of a
fifth-year player who'd moved in from Williamsport. The goofy, mid-December "tournament" in
Canada had a website and D-V was listed on there as having gone 1-5. Yet, before D-V played a
nonleague game at Roman Catholic on Dec. 23, Cissorsky told us his team's record was 10-1.
Say what? Wheels were set in motion from there.
Seven Buses, Not So Lucky . . .
In 2006, in only the Pub's second year of PIAA competition, Communications Tech (AAA) and
Prep Charter (AA) advanced to state basketball finals. School District honchos came up with a
rousing plan to provide free transportation to anyone, from anywhere, who wanted to go to
Hershey to watch the games. We wrote a pretty big story about it a few days ahead of time (even
BEFORE the state semis) and Marjorie Wuestner, then the executive director of District 12, said
with confidence, "The athletic directors are going to help us on this," Wuestner said. "It'll be easy
for kids at individual schools to sign up with their athletic directors. We'll ask adults to do that, too.
Just call the nearest school to where you live and ask for the athletic director." Robert Coleman,
the D-12 chairman, added, "Some of the buses would leave from the competing schools. But if
there's enough interest, we'll send a bus to an individual school or even have buses that go around
from school to school in regions." So, what happened? ONE bus made it to Hershey. Several ADs
told the Daily News that everyone viewed the plan as a joke, and that almost nobody, players or
parents, expressed one bit of interest. "The inside joke," an AD said, "was that when someone did
call, we'd say, 'Our bus is full. Call another school.' " . . . Wait. That wasn't all. Comm Tech did
manage to drum up interest and seven busloads of students, accompanied by chaperones, traveled
from deep Southwest Philly to Hershey. To put it mildly, things did not go smoothly. The first CT
students did not scramble into the building until 2 1/2 minutes remained in the first half. The Phoenix
was already phading by that time. The last bus? Oh, that arrived in the fourth quarter. Student fans
said two buses were ready to leave at the appointed time, 4:30, but that the drivers refused to depart
until all seven buses, for caravan purposes, were present. There were also traffic and getting-lost
miseries. CT's principal, Barbara McCreery, said some of the buses did not depart until as late as 6
o'clock. The game started at 8. Remember, we're talking Friday night at rush hour and at least a
2-hour journey with no traffic. "I wasn't thinking so much that the kids weren't here to cheer,"
McCreery said. "I was more concerned with their safety. When it's that long and they're still not
here . . . I'm very proud of our team." Said CT star Richard Francis: "We had to be disappointed a
little. We were finally going to get a lot of kids at one of these state games. We come out for warmups
and there's nobody. We always relied on our fans to get us going."
Ted's note: This, quite simply, was a disgrace. For mysterious reasons, the District does not allow
its buses to leave the city, so a private company had to become involved. Here's hoping it's no longer
in business. CT lost that one to a school called Franklin from the western part of the state. PC won
the next day before roughly 75 supporters.
Can Somebody Throw Me a Block, Please? . . .
In a 2008 football game, Edison quarterback Bryant Keal lost yardage on six consecutive plays,
over the course of three series, and the "damage" came to 84 yards! He lost fumbles on plays No.
1 and 3. The losses, in order: 18, 9, 29 (fired the ball backward while being thrown to turf), 10,
5 and 13. Southern's Sean Allen notched four of the sacks and forced both fumbles. In all, Keal
carried 12 times for minus-103 yards.
Ted's note: Keal wound up being replaced as Edison's QB as the season continued, but showed
good resilience. He whipped three TD passes (totaling 201 yards) on trick-play laterals from his
successor, Terrell Lee. One of those came with 0:09 left in a game with Fels and lifted Edison to
a 26-22 win. The receiver was Vincent Boseman and it was only the second catch of his varsity
career. The first? Earlier in the same game. It also went for a TD (54 yards from Lee). Boseman's
brother, Dom, just completed an outstanding athletic experience at Edison (championship wrestler
and shot-putter; participant in City All-Star Football Game).
Central Couldn't Make Its Point . . .
In 2003, Central won a football game over West Philadelphia by 42-0. Not bad, right? Well, the
nutty part of this game was an 0-for-7 performance on conversions. The Lancers rolled to 381
yards of total offense, yet failed on two kicks then a pass, pass, run, pass and run. "We have a
new kicker, Andrew Thompson, from the soccer team, and in time we think he's going to be
pretty good," coach Frank Conway Jr. said. "When we didn't get the first two, we figured we'd try
some different things. We were mixing it up. Inside, outside, run, throw. We just couldn't get into
the end zone. Maybe three of them came up just short. We're usually good on our two-pointers.
We've converted close to 40 percent over the years. You'd have to be very good on kicks to get
an output like that." When asked whether the Lancers would be spending extra practice on
conversions, Conway laughed and said, "Quite a bit."
Ted's note: I went back and checked what happened the following week. Central scored six TDs
in a 41-0 win over Gratz and was successful on three conversions -- two "twos" and a PAT.
Thompson had the kick and finished the season with 17 points . . . On the flip side of this post,
we offer something from 2001. In a 66-8 crush job over Southern, Frankford went 8-for-8 on
conversions (and added a safety, of course). The 66 points represented a school record, breaking
65 vs. Bok in 1975. Kicker Shane Kelly was off playing soccer. Oh, check this out . . . Frankford's
final TD came on -- of all things -- a 20-yard punt return by Daniel Berrios. Cornelius Mosley then
ran for two.
After This Touchdown, Two Conversions Failed . . .
In 2009, Bartram's Al-Hajj Shabazz missed no chances to contribute big plays in a 33-6 win
over Mastbaum. He had an arm or feet in four of the Braves' five TDs and then unwittingly had
a hand -- the right one, if you must know -- in one of the all-time conversion comedies. After
turning an ad-lib into a 14-yard TD dash with 9 minutes, 11 seconds left, Shabazz knelt down
to hold for kicker Derek "Aztec" King, also a star linebacker. The snap was a shade off-kilter.
Shabazz reached and fumbled for the ball as he tried to get it onto the block . . . Thump!! King
swung his leg forward and completely missed the ball while kicking Shabazz' right hand. Shabazz
then covered the ball and was swarmed under. Later, he said, "It didn't hurt me." King cracked,
"I can't kick it if it's not there."
Ted's note: In the boxscore for this game, I wasn't even sure how to list the unsuccessful
conversion. If the ball is never kicked, can the result go into the books as "kick failed"? If I
remember, we listed it as "run failed". We should have listed it as BOTH (ha ha).
Games Were Played Before the Game Was Played . . .
On the last day of the 2002 basketball regular season, Bok lost to Roxborough and missed out
on earning a Division D playoff spot. What happened beforehand? What didn't? The game originally
was scheduled for Jan. 31, but bus problems kept Roxborough from traveling. At an athletic
directors' meeting the first week of February, word came the game was canceled because it would
have no bearing on the playoffs. Feb. 10, a Sunday night, league officials realized it could have
bearing. Bok coach Lloyd Jenkins was called at home and told to have his team ready for a game
the next afternoon. "I didn't have the kids' phone numbers with me at home," Jenkins said. "So
Monday, there we are, scrambling like crazy. Kids are going home to get their uniforms. Their
moms are bringing in uniforms. We're ready. Then we get a call. 'No game. Roxborough's not
coming. They couldn't get it together. ' " Again, PL brass said the game would be canceled. Then
came Tuesday. Oops! The day's results again made the game mandatory. "You'll play it Friday,"
Jenkins was told. Thursday, three starters told Jenkins they were flying to Florida that night to
participate in a long-planned, already-paid-for AAU tournament. The sixth man had to miss school
Friday because he was leaving on a family trip. Jenkins promoted five members of the junior varsity.
The game was scheduled for 3:15. Roxborough again had bus problems and didn't arrive until 3:22.
Tipoff time was 3:36. Dripoff time was as long as the contest took. Yes, throughout the game, near
midcourt and just inside the south sideline, an adult and a student used their feet to push towels back
and forth. Water was drip-drip-dripping onto the court from a leaky pipe.
Ted's note: Lloyd Jenkins, just a flat-out great MAN, passed away this past school year. I vividly
remember how frustrated this whole sequence made him, but especially how disappointed he was
that some of his players chose devotion to AAU ball over school ball. RIP, Lloyd.
Go to the (Real) Men in Blue . . .
In 1959, Northeast beat Central, 3-1, in 10 innings, at Germantown's field in a preplayoff for
fourth place. (In that era, only four teams made the playoffs.) In the eighth inning, Central
rightfielder Carter Roskow stole second and was halted at third when an overthrow rolled onto
a runway leading to the locker rooms. Wally Bennett, Central's coach, felt Roskow should
have been allowed to score and filed a protest. The PL baseball chairman, Jerry Kean, was
unsure how to rule, so . . . he went to Connie Mack Stadium where the Phillies were playing
the Cubs!! In a conversation with Bill Jackowski, Philly native Shag Crawford, Vic Delmore
and Al Barlick, Kean broke down the play and the MLB umps agreed: the Pub umps had
gotten it right. The protest was disallowed.
Ted's note: This happened way before the Internet and cell phones, obviously, so I was
wondering about the assorted ins and outs. Did the coaches and one or two players from each
team also head to Connie Mack Stadium, so they'd know right away where things stood? Did
they sit around their houses all night, waiting for phone calls? I started thinking, "Carter Roskow,
how common a name can that be? Maybe I can track him down." That happened and we had
a nice phone conversation two days ago. Guess what? He couldn't remember anything concerning
the protest. How he found out. When he found out. Nothing. "Hey, do you know how long ago
that was?" he said, laughing. He did recall very clearly, however, getting tagged out on an attempted
steal of home earlier in that game. He said a picture of that play wound up in the Germantown
Courier (a weekly paper that ceased to exist a few years ago) and he always regretted not saving
that week's edition. Roskow said Northeast's catcher was straddling the baseline. He plowed into
the kid so hard, he said, the kid wound up against the backstop. "But he held the ball," he said,
sadly. "He came at me, a little. The whole damn team did. They wanted to do harm to me. Nothing
(explosive) happened. It was a clean play." Roskow, who lived near Hunting Park, said he was
playing youth ball that summer when an opponent walked up to him and said, "Do you know who
I am? The Northeast catcher." The two had a nice conversation and became friends. Roskow
joined the Marine Corps out of Central, later enrolled at Temple and played baseball there. In
the MC and through his professional life (TV executive), he was known as Elliott Roskow. Carter
is his middle name. E. Carter Roskow would not flush in the MC. "I put down my name as E.
Carter," he said. The drill instructor yelled at him full volume, "We do not go by middle names
here!!" He's still Carter to family and friends. . . . Except for championship games, baseball
received almost no in-person coverage back then. So the report I found on this game wasn't too
fleshed out. I would have loved being involved in this one (smile). Oh, one last thing. The coaches'
All-Pub first team in '59 included Gratz third baseman Leroy Kelly, who went on to make the
Football Hall of Fame as a running back. His brother, Harold "Pat" Kelly, was a long-time major
Take Two and Run to Center . . .
Here's something that occurred during the 1988 baseball season, when Gratz was still playing its
home games near 10th and Lycoming, in the southeast portion of Hunting Park . . .
Simon Gratz High's baseball team will play only away games for the remainder of this season, and
is looking for an alternate practice site, in the aftermath of a bizarre, scary incident that took place
According to Nate Smigel, Gratz's coach, the Bulldogs' Public League game with visiting Edward
Bok Tech was interrupted "for 20 minutes, in the third or fourth inning" when two Gratz fans were
threatened, and briefly chased, by a teenager brandishing a gun.
The game was won by Bok, 13-11.
Smigel said the incident began when the teenager walked past stands containing Gratz fans, on the
third-base side, and hollered several times, ''Gratz bleeps."
"Our kids, the two fans, answered him back, saying, 'Yeah, so what are you going to do about it?' "
Smigel said. "The other kid said, 'You'll see. I'll be back in a few minutes.' "
Smigel said Gratz was batting and that he was coaching third base when all of his players, then all
of Bok's players, suddenly began running toward centerfield.
"Because my head was turned to the field, I didn't know what was going on at first," Smigel said.
"Then I turned and saw this guy running up with a gun - it had a silver handle - and it started to
register, 'Hey, it looks like we have a problem here. ' What did I do? I just froze. I didn't know what
"There was no way the kid was going to catch our two fans. They'd seen him coming and were
way out in centerfield by then. He walked to about where third base is - but on the other side of the
fence, not on the field. He tucked the gun in his pants, and covered it with his shirt, as he walked.
Then, he just turned around and jogged toward the corner of the park (9th and Luzerne streets)."
Smigel said Gratz was leading, 5-2, when the incident took place.
"Actually," he noted, "I think Tommy (DeFelice, Bok's coach) would have booked if a bus had
been there to take them back home. But there wasn't and we continued the game.
"Tommy kiddingly said, 'Why don't you tell your shortstop and pitcher (Clay Lawson, Solomon
Hamilton) to go testify. ' Some of my guys were uneasy, honestly. Tommy's guys didn't seem to
be as affected."
Ted's note: For my money, the coolest part of this story was Nate Smigel's use of the word
booked (smile). Anyway, Gratz did abandon that area and has long played in Fairmount Park, out
by 33rd and Diamond. Sadly, one has to think that something has changed in the 23 years since
1988: now there WOULD be gunfire, not just threats.
So Nice, He Did It Twice . . .
In 1988, a rule change finally permitted defensive players to pick up fumbles and run with 'em.
The first city player to notch a touchdown in that fashion was Gratz' Chris Rhone and, you know
what's coming, he did it TWICE in the same game. As the Bulldogs won their opener, 20-8, over
University City, Rhone scored the game's first TD on a 39-yard return and the last on a 43-yarder.
In that era, Pub teams did not start game action until the next-to-last weekend of September.
Nevertheless, Rhone was the first player in city history to score on a fumble return. (Judge's
Dave Stauffenberg came close to a fumble-return TD one week earlier, but was tackled at the 2
after a 40-yard rumble.) When asked about his presence of mind, Rhone said, "Some referee guy
came to our field a couple weeks ago. He was explaining the new rules. He was saying how
fumbles could be picked up and advanced. I remember thinking, 'Now that's gonna help us.' We
always caused fumbles last year, but we could never run with them." On each of his returns, the
5-8, 195-pound Rhone, a linebacker, pushed aside teammate Walt Taylor. "The guys told me
afterward," he said, "that I pushed Walter out of the way both times. I thought it was just the first
time. They said I was giving him elbows. I was being kind of greedy, I guess. Didn't want to take
any chances. Wanted to be careful, keep things on the safe side."
Ted's note: Pubness at its merry best. Brand new rule. Guy walks into history, twice. Chris
Rhone, a great presence for the Bulldogs both for skill and energy, wasn't finished leaving his mark.
Later that season, he tied the city record for longest TD reception on a 99-yarder from Robert
Alston. That mark had been set just three years earlier by King's Ron Bryant (from Marc Wilson)
after standing at 98 since 1963 (Roman's John "Ace" Spino from Gene Marcinek).
Take Your Ball and Go Home; Never Should've Left . . .
In the 2008-09 basketball season, the starting date for games was Dec. 5. On Dec. 4, somehow,
a pair of brand new varsity programs, Randolph and Science Leadership, met each other in their
respective first games and . . . Double forfeit! SL coach Matt Kay said he cleared the date change
through Charles Sumter, the Pub basketball chairman. We couldn't reach Sumter that night (hmmm),
but Robert Coleman, overseer of Pub sports, said he spoke with Sumter and was told by him,
"We have some younger coaches who don't know the rules.'' Coleman added, "Everybody knows
the starting dates" and said he intended to convene another coaches' meeting to "to read these guys
the riot act. This is our fifth year (in the PIAA). Everybody should know the rules . . . Guess Plaxico
Burress isn't the only one shooting himself in the foot.''
Ted's note: OK, it was the thigh, but still a good line! The whole week was incredible. A guy who
took results for the DN and Inquirer estimated "at least 20 games involving Pub teams were called in.
We wouldn't take the results. Some of the coaches were upset. We just told them, 'You're not
allowed to play games. You can only have scrimmages before (Dec. 5). Two of them.' " Also during
that week, I received an email from a Pub player. He wanted to know why the result of his school's
game had not been published. "I scored 40!!" he added. This was the first time brand new programs
suffered the embarrassment of starting off with forfeits. It wouldn't be the last. We'll deal with Part
Two in a future posting.
The Kick From the 100 Is Up, and It's Good!! . . .
In 2008, vs. Olney, Northeast's Tim Freiling had to kick the ball three times to get one point onto
the scoreboard and the distance covered was 100 yards! After James Rosseau ran 1 yard for a TD,
Northeast was hit with a dead-ball personal foul. Freiling hit the PAT from 35 yards, but Olney
had been called for offside an instant beforehand. Freiling hit the next kick from 30 yards, but
Northeast was guilty of procedure. He hit the next kick from 35. Total distance of the kicks -- 100!
"That was crazy. First time I've ever had to do three kicks to get one point," Freiling said. "We
were getting a kick out of it. Back. Up. Back again."
Ted's note: Freiling, also a star in baseball, was one of those mixed-dominance athletes. Though
he threw and batted righthanded, he kicked leftfooted. Tim finished his career with 98 points on
53 PAT and 15 field goals. In '08, the holder was Raheem Groce and the long-snapper was
lineman Kenny Kline, who was killed in March 2011 in a motorcycle accident. RIP, Kenny.
You Can't Score if You Don't Bat . . .
In 1992, Fels made the baseball playoffs then wound up wishing it hadn't. The Panthers met
Washington in the round of 16 and lost by . . . brace yourself . . . 31-2. Washington slammed 22
hits, including six for extra bases, and benefited from 11 errors. They scored 11 in the first, five
in the second, none in the third, seven in the fourth and eight in the fifth, then declined to bat in
the sixth. Yes, declined to bat. (Mercy rules did not apply to playoffs at that point.) Joe Stanley,
the Pub's first-year baseball chairman, said Washington coach Joe O'Hara would not be
reprimanded for telling Fels to bat for six consecutive outs. "I'm sure Joe was trying to do them
a favor," Stanley said. "Enough is enough." O'Hara, indeed, was kind. He inserted all seven of his
substitutes in the third inning. As the fifth inning ended, pitcher Jordan Nicgorski purposely swung
and missed. But the pitch was wild, catcher Andy Albaladejo could not find the ball in the cage
and Nicgorski was safe at first although he had trotted in that direction in slow motion. Under
orders, Nicgorski then wandered off the bag and allowed himself to be tagged out. Before Fels
batted in the fifth, home plate umpire Jim Berghaier, after acknowledging he was unsure whether
the league's 10-run mercy rule applied to playoffs (again, at that time it did not), asked coach Wilt
Mitchell whether he would like to concede after three more outs. Mitchell declined. "I wanted to
give everyone on the bench an opportunity to play," Mitchell said. Alas, the substitutions created
confusion. Fels batted out of order in the sixth. Click here for boxscore.
Ted's note: Even though this game was beyond messy, fun was still to be had. The DN story
began with some quips from Fels folks. Scorekeeper Jodi Blau asked, "Does this have to go in the
newspaper? Do you take bribes?" Mitchell Ritzen, the father of pitcher-first baseman Josh Ritzen,
at one juncture noted, "Only three touchdowns and a field goal. Do you think we can do that?"
Instead of waiting for an answer, he walked to his car and drove off (to umpire a softball game).
Just then, in an act of mercy, the number on the right side of the scoreboard in deep leftfield
changed from 24 to 0. "Hey, look at that," yelled an observant Fels fan. "They're not keeping
score anymore. They got tired of punching up runs." After the game, Josh Ritzen said, "We were
expecting, well, not to win, but to make it a closer game than this. Between our pitching and errors
and their hitting, it was just horrible. Terrifying. After that first inning, I was thinking, 'Things can't
get any worse. ' But they did. Our school was excited being in the playoffs. Some teachers and
students came to the game. But they'll all be ragging on us now. 'You lost by 31-2?!? ' I'll go to
school, though. Have to face it sometime. It'll be better to do it right away, then get it out of our
minds." Jim Berghaier, a family friend and great guy, is a very notable person in city history. In
1985, as a Philly policeman, he rescued Birdie Africa during the MOVE bombing/inferno on Osage
Avenue in West Philly. Oh, and Jodi Blau is now married to Josh Ritzen. Guess she forgave him
for helping to make her scorebook sheet so messy that day (smile).
This Week on the Pub Trail Did Not Sit Well . . .
One week in Feb. 2004, this was how things went for me: One game was postponed because a team
bus was never ordered. Three others began with only one referee on hand. In the Engineering and
Science at Mastbaum game, one ref went solo for the first 14 1/2 minutes. When the other guy,
an emergency replacement and George Carlin look-alike, arrived, he was wearing a faded striped
shirt. He proceeded to show horrendous officiating mechanics (wildly waving his arms after blowing
his whistle, for instance) while making a series of hard-to-believe calls that angered/humored players
and fans. Mastbaum coach Jim Taylor became so disgruntled, he called two meaningless timeouts in
the waning moments just to bust chops. He did apologize to the original ref for doing so. Oh yeah,
almost forgot. Mastbaum's gym had no stands. They were condemned and removed. The spectators
stood on one side behind a rope strung over orange traffic cones. Wait. About 12 people did get to sit.
Some on a metal bench. Some on folding chairs. And three - drum roll, please - on milk crates.
Ted's note: The ref mentioned above was the all-time whack job. It was like someone went to nearby
K&A (Kensington & Allegheny), pulled aside a bunch of winos and asked, "Hey, anybody want to
make a quick buck by reffing a basketball game at Mastbaum?" I half expected someone to stop the
game at some point and say, "Ah, this is all a spoof. Just having some fun here. We'll replay the game
at a later date." That's how bad and comical the guy was. Oh, and his striped shirt appeared to be 40
years old, at least. The white stripes were severely off-color. By the way, Mastbaum's gym has since
been refurbished and now looks great.
You're Ineligible, Kid. Wait, No You're Not . . .
Late in the 2001 baseball season, second baseman Brian Corbett was declared ineligible and
Lincoln was forced to forfeit seven victories, dropping its Division A record from 8-5 to 1-12 (en
route to 1-13). Then, 10 days later, as the playoffs began, there was the highly personable
Corbett, a true character and non-stop chatterbox (in baseballese), playing second as the
Railsplitters bested Roxborough, 11-1, en route to a spot in the championship game. We don't
make up this stuff, folks. At that time, Lincoln was partnered with Swenson for sports and
school district honchoette Linda McGee ruled that Corbett was not enrolled at Swenson as a
full-time student and, thus, should not have been playing sports. Oddly, he was taking one class
at Northeast each day and then working at nights as a "casual laborer" through a work-study
program sponsored by Swenson. Corbett's family hired a lawyer with designs on proving
erroneous paperwork at Swenson's end caused him to be declared ineligible. On May 17,
Corbett received word he had been reinstated. (The Roxborough game was May 18.) "It was
maybe 3:45," he said. "They faxed the word to my mom [Barbara] at her job and to the lawyer.
I was home, sitting around in flip-flops. I was so happy, I rushed over to the field. But practice
was over. I didn't cry when I got the word about being ineligible. I was just irritated and angry.
I felt bad for my mom. They [Railsplitters] got seven losses they didn't deserve because of a
situation involving me and next year's team will have to drop down to Division B [as the last-place
finisher in A]. That's not fair. The whole thing's not fair." McGee said the forfeits stood "because
he was not eligible during that time. He is eligible now. He has been re-enrolled." McGee would
not address the issue of whether paperwork indeed caused the problem. In the Roxborough game,
as every situation presented itself, Corbett yelled instruction to his mates. He also did his share of
trash-talking. "I like having fun out there," Corbett said. "Some of our guys are kind of quiet.
I figure if I draw attention to myself, they'll be able to do their job in peace. Anything anybody
wants to yell at me, I can handle it."
Ted's note: I wonder whatever happened to Brian Corbett? He was a great kid to have on a team
and due to his large frame he hardly looked like a second baseman. The championship game that
year saw Central beat Lincoln, 1-0, as Noah White outdueled Ron Clarkson. Central rightfielder
Gabe Givnish played with a thin fake beard painted on his face. Repeat after me: Only in The Pub.
Getting His Dual-Pronged Kicks . . .
In 1998, Pat Creighton helped Northeast earn a 1-1 soccer tie vs. Central, a team coached by his
father, Jack, then booted a 23-yard field goal to lift the football Vikings over Bok, 9-6, in OT. Both
games took place at Northeast. When soccer ended, Pat quickly shook hands and then hustled to
the football field as his father boarded Central's team bus for the ride back to Ogontz and Olney.
"I didn't have my full uniform with me. Only my jersey,'' said Pat, who'd gone 10-for-10 on extra
points in Northeast's first two games. "When I came down the steps, I saw two minutes left on the
clock. Coach (Harvey 'Brew') Schumer saw me standing on the sideline with maybe 24 seconds
left and told me, 'Go get dressed.' I went up to the locker room with a backup running back; I don't
even know his name. I put on his football pants. He put on my soccer shorts. My soccer jersey was
under my football jersey.'' Bok went first in OT. On the first play, Dante Poole (12 tackles) and
Aaron Brown delivered a hard hit on Eddie Turner and Brandon Morgan recovered a fumble. Soon,
Northeast faced fourth-and-goal at the 6. Creighton's kick was perfect. "I can't say I knew we
weren't going to score a touchdown,'' Creighton said. ``But there was that feeling, it probably will
come down to a field goal. My adrenaline was pumping . . . Did I have time to stretch? Not really.
But I was stretched from soccer. The thing was, I hadn't kicked a football all week. My leg was
bothering me.'' Said Jack: ``I knew he was going to play in the soccer game. He wouldn't have
missed a chance to rub it in on dad.''
Ted's note: Jack Creighton is now Frankford's athletic director. His other son, John, coaches
multiple sports in the Pub (football assistant at Washington, basketball head coach at Rush; not
sure of his springtime activity, if any). Pat was not a one-game FB wonder. He earned first team
honors on our Daily News All-Public team. Just to show that not all wacky moments occur in the
Pub, check out this experience for Ryan's Chris Webster in 2006 . . . At 3:30, 2 1/2 hours before Ryan
was scheduled to play La Salle, while working at a Soccer Post store in the Far Northeast, Webster
received a telephone invitation from injured kicker Bill George to be his replacement. Webster, a
deep sub sweeper on the soccer team, received permission from his boss to leave early (with pay),
rushed over to Ryan (the team buses were late; the game didn't start until 6:40) and then hit two
PATs in the Raiders' 14-12 upset victory. Also, he averaged 49 yards on his four kickoffs and sent
one into the end zone.
Well, Isn't This a Tyreeble Development . . .
In the 1986 wrestling season, a student approached Gratz coach Rich Kozlowski one day in a
hallway and asked if he could try out for the team.
"Sure," Kozlowski said. "What's your name?"
"Joe Tyree," the kid answered.
"What grade are you in?"
"How are your marks?"
"They're cool. No problem."
Just to be sure, Kozlowski rummaged through the records in Gratz's main office. He indeed
confirmed that Joe Tyree was a legitimate senior (meaning he had advanced grade by grade
through high school, without repeating any) and that his marks for the first report period were
more than acceptable.
After several weeks of practice, Gratz opened its season by losing a Public League match at
Olney. But Joe Tyree, competing at 105 pounds, "tore the Olney kid up," according to
Kozlowski. "He was awesome."
The next morning, the coach provided a list of individual winners to a school secretary for
broadcast over the public-address system.
Shortly thereafter, another student approached Kozlowski in a hallway.
"Mr. Koz, do you know who I am?" the student asked.
"I've seen you around here, but I don't know your name," Kozlowski said.
"I'm Joe Tyree. I'm not on your wrestling team."
School officials tracked down the young man who had represented himself as Joe Tyree. At age
20, he was not so young. And his name was Chris Williams, not Joe Tyree. Because she was so
irate, principal Daisy Reaves immediately had Williams transferred to another school.
Incredibly, the story is more involved than that.
Gratz officials also discovered that Williams had wrestled five times as Joe Tyree in February
1985 when another coach, who did not teach at the school, was in charge of the program.
"We had no clue at all" in either year, said athletic director Charlie Lotson. "We were all shocked
that something like that could happen.
"Once in a while, when you grab a kid for a problem, he'll give you a fake name. But once you
get to the discipline office, the truth comes out. I'd never heard of a kid using a fake name in
connection with athletics."
"I don't know about the previous year, but last year I seriously doubt that any of my wrestlers
thought that Williams was anyone but Tyree," Kozlowski said. "They all called him Joe. His
girlfriend, I guess, was the only person who knew something. She was even in on it. I can
remember her coming to practices and calling out, 'Come on, Joe.' "
Ted's note: This was the beginning of a story in the 1986-87 school year about a rash of forfeits.
Here are two other snippets from that same story . . .
Franklin football coach Vince Trombetta likes to tell a story involving Jerry Kleger, the school's
"A guy from one of the African countries comes up to Jerry and says, 'I want to play soccer,' "
Trombetta said. "Jerry asks the guy his age. 'Twenty,' he says. Jerry says, 'You can't play if you're
20. ' The guy says, 'Why not? My cousin played a couple years ago for such-and-such school. And
he was 20.'
"I swear. It's a true story."
Trombetta would have no trouble convincing Dave Krick, Southern's soccer coach, of that little
yarn's authenticity. In fact, Krick has a story of his own.
In September, the Rams were getting organized when an Asian student appeared at a practice and
expressed a desire to play.
"How old are you? " Krick asked.
"I 20," the fellow said.
"You can't play if you're 20."
"You can't play if you're 19, either."
"Ah . . . I 18."
"What year were you born?"
"Ah . . . I no understand."
"That's the problem," Krick said, unable to keep a straight face any longer. "You understand all
"Get the Ball Into Yourself" . . .
In 1985, when report cards first were issued, Kensington's basketball team lost seven players to
bad grades, including four would-be starters. When they again came out in early February, coach
Sonny Edelman lost five players, including three starters, but regained the services of a previously
ineligible guard, Bruce Taylor. Anyway . . . when the Tigers hosted Frankford on Feb. 5, only
FIVE players were in uniform. Four fouled out and, per the rules, the game was halted with 0:16
remaining, leaving Frankford a 57-47 winner. Asked about that crazy development, Edelman said
with a laugh, "Geez. And we had a play set up for that, too. We called it, 'Get the ball into
yourself.' " The other Tigers that day were Rupert Jones (16 points), brothers Purcell and Darren
Trammel and Darryl Patterson. Kensington had no official JV squad; the Trammels had been
promoted from a loosely organized group that played about a 10-game schedule. Two days later,
Kensington visited Northeast. There was no repeat fiasco. Kensington had eight players in uniform
-- seven played, two fouled out -- during an 83-71 loss. One of the missing guys vs. Frankford was
soph Emanual "Vel" Davis, who'd go on to play in the NBA. He returned vs. Northeast after
getting a reprieve from the principal. I covered the Northeast game and here's what Jones said
about his (self-inflicted) academic woes: "I used to cut class so much, it was ridiculous. I used to
cut all the time. I talk to guys here, try to tell them what's up. But they act like they're grown, like
nobody can tell them nothing. Hey, I can talk from experience." And here are Harvey's thoughts:
"Before, I only went to class when I felt like it. That was maybe three days a week. I was hanging
around with the wrong people. But I wanted to get back to playing ball, so I started going to class,
and I started doing my homework and I turned in some back reports that I owed. There comes a
time when you think, 'I better turn my life around.' "
Ted's note: Back then, ineligible players were required to sit out entire marking periods; Davis
was allowed to return because Kensington's rule (two failures) was tougher than the School
District's (three failures). Just a short time beforehand, the SD had just ONE rule regarding
athletic eligibility: You had to be in school on the day of the game. Incredible, right?! You could
stay home or roam the streets all other days and never do a hint of homework, but if the coach
wanted to use you, hey, no sweat. Luckily, most coaches had principles. Under PIAA rules, kids
can regain eligibility after a very short period of time. Verrrrrry interesting. Folks around the state
always looked down on the Pub. Turned out, Pub rules regarding academic eligibility (once they
were instituted for the 1982-82 school year) were much tougher than the PIAA's.
Winners on Field, Losers on Paper . . .
In 1986, like almost always, Edison's football team was in one of its patented futility streaks
when the schedule called for a Mid-City Division opener at Gratz. The Inventors (the nickname
later changed to Owls) had been blanked in nine consecutive games and had lost 27 of 29 on
the field dating back to the start of the 1983 season. Thanks in large part to two-way end Tony
Garcia, who made two big catches for 39 yards and a fourth-quarter tackle for a safety that
snapped an 8-8 tie, Edison won, 10-8. "This is great," Garcia said. "Now we can go to school
tomorrow and be happy." And coach Larry Oliver can stumble on some disturbing info . . .
Garcia was in his fifth year of high school and, thus, ineligible. "It was something we discovered
on our own," Oliver said. "The next day in school, I was checking the eligibility of some other
players who wanted to join our team and I noticed on Garcia's card that he should have graduated
last year. I called Gratz 's athletic director (Charlie Lotson) and told him the situation. We need
wins, but we don't want them tainted." Garcia, a senior, was a sophomore at Olney in the
1983-84 school year, Oliver said, and came to Edison as a repeat sophomore in September 1984.
"I asked him twice if he was in his right grade, and he said, 'Yes, I'm all right,' " Oliver said.
"When you ask a kid something, you figure you're going to get an honest answer. I'm deeply hurt
by this, as are the kids. Since we first had sign-ups, I must have gone through 70 players. Our
area is so transient, guys come and go all the time. They stay on the team a week; they stay a day.
You're constantly checking on records and grades. When he told me he was in his correct grade,
I went to check his grade-point average and it was acceptable. I figured, 'Great, I've finally got a
big end with some talent.' "
Ted's note: We could have an Edison Football Week for this project, and then some, so there'll
be more tidbits about the Inventors/Owls along the way. Scoring the TD in this game was QB Joey
Jefferson, who wound up earning first team All-City honors in basketball. His uncle, Harry Jefferson,
was Edison's QB in the '82 season, when the Inventors snapped a national record scoreless streak of
27 games. Yes, nothing but zeroes for 27 consecutive games. (Just whetting your appetite for a future
posting, folks -- smile).
They Couldn't Give the Job Away . . .
In 2003, Germantown's baseball team began the season with six phantom losses. Say what?
The Bears never made it onto the field. The school, literally, could get NO ONE to coach the
squad after Ted Horne had to step aside for health reasons right before tryouts were to begin.
By the time Thomas Monson was appointed to take over, the season was one month old and
forfeits went into the books for games vs. Dobbins, Southern, Strawberry Mansion, Prep
Charter, Penn and West Phila. The Bears' season finally began on April 22 and the squad did
very well, actually, battling back to attain a 7-7 record. I covered a 10-1 win over Gratz on
May 5 and there was some loose talk that the squad would be allowed to replay all those games
that had resulted in forfeits. Didn't happen. Probably would have been messy anyway because
almost every day would have featured a game and no way a team has that much pitching.
Ted's note: Yet another legendary Pub development. Coaching jobs pay decent money and the
time commitment in something like lower-level baseball is minimal. Teams almost never play
on Saturdays and most don't even bother with non-league games. Nonetheless, these kids had to
sit around for what must have seemed like forever until the situation finally got resolved. This
Bears' squad was led by junior righthander Haneef Hill, who went on to have a great career at
Virginia State and whose name still makes appearances on the Daily News' scoreboard pages
due to his exploits in the Fairmount Park League . . . Meanwhile, in 2004, Germantown
somehow wound up short of uniforms. Click here for the Pub team pics from that season (the
fifth one down the page) to see what some G-town guys did for shirts and numbers. A classic!!
Also, that pic includes two of the Johnsons mentioned below in the June 23 posting.
It's Never Too Late to Start the Season, And Enjoy a Championship . . .
In 1989, after missing the entire season due to academic ineligibility, defender Walt Ziolo joined
Frankford's squad for the title game and . . . you got it, he scored the winning goal as the Pioneers
bested Lincoln, 2-1, in overtime. Ziolo could have played in the semis vs. Central (report cards were
issued that day), but instead was having his tonsils and adenoids removed at Northeast Hospital. In
the title game, Ziolo mixed baggy, blue-and-white gym shorts with Frankford's standard tricolored
jersey. Coach Bill Snyder said Ziolo was one of several players who battled back from ineligibility.
The others were not permitted to rejoin the team. "Walt's been on the team three years," Snyder
said. "He was a starter last year. He's not new to the team, not new to the system. He's dedicated
to the sport. He made a mistake and made up for it, so he should be able to come back. He was an
integral member of our team even when he was ineligible. He'd come out to watch the games."
Ted's note: A search in our Daily News database showed this was the first time I used "Only in
the Pub" in a story. After a few setup paragraphs, where Ziolo of course was mentioned, I asked
the question, Guess who scored the winning goal? Then came this: If the response was not Walt
Ziolo, consider yourself ineligible to follow the Public League - any sport - for the rest of this
marking period. And this was the end of the story: "It was horrible being ineligible," Ziolo said. "I'd
usually been all right (academically). As a sophomore, I just slipped up." Yesterday, he slipped on
half a uniform and slipped the game-winner into the net. Only in The "Pub."
Is That a Pigskin or a Greased Pig? . . .
In 2007, at Northeast, in a game pitting Mastbaum vs. Gratz, there were turnovers on FIVE
consecutive plays! All were lost fumbles. And the weather was perfect. Beautiful, even, so it wasn't
as if slippery conditions played a role. Here we go . . . On the game’s third play, Mastbaum's
Rasheen Tookes dropped a pitchout and Gratz' Muhammad Dudley recovered. Next play: Gratz'
Hal Chambliss dropped the ball and Mastbaum's Jamil Thomas recovered. Next play: Mastbaum's
Hason Franklin you-know-whated and Gratz' Elijah Akbar made a scoop and return for 15 yards
to the 10. Next play: No fumble. Woo-hoo!! But, a 10-yard scoring run by Dudley, on a reverse,
was wiped out by a holding penalty (Because the penalty was behind the line of scrimmage, that
play did not count as a "play.") Next play: Mastbaum's Donald Vodopija sacked Dominic Marrow
for an 11-yard loss and Mastbaum's John Turner recovered. Next play: Tookes coughed up the
rock and Dudley recovered again. It was craaaaaaazy! But the lunacy was hardly over. Five plays
later, Vodopija again caused a fumble and teammate Andrew King recovered. So, that’s six lost
fumbles in 10 official plays. You want more? Four plays later, against the wind, with the line of
scrimmage the 14, Mastbaum's Robert Fitzhugh sent a punt pretty much straight up. The ball
bounced backward and settled on the 1 for a minus-13-yarder. Chambliss ran 1 yard for a TD.
Oops. There was motion and the ball was placed at the 6. Chambliss carried four more times in a
row and finally scored from the 1 on fourth down.
Ted's note: That's Pubness squared, then squared again. Unbelievable. Don't the five consecutive
lost fumbles have to constitute a world record? Just the fumbling was crazy enough. But doesn't it
stand to reason that the guilty team would recover at least one of them? Flip a coin five times. Will
it ever be heads OR tails five consecutive times? Smile.
We're So Excited to Resume Our Football Program! Oops, Check That . . .
This one's a first cousin of yesterday's item. In the fall of 2004, the Pub began its PIAA football
experience and, at the same time, William Penn fielded a team for the first time since the end of
the 1984 season. So, what happened on Sept. 3, when the Lions were supposed to make their
triumphant return with a game at King? They backed out, citing too many injuries. And did so
that morning, just a few hours before gametime. Ex-Roxborough coach Cliff Hubbard, then the
Pub's director of athletics, said he read coach Manor Prewitt "the riot act." Football chairman Joe
Stanley, whose son, Mike, at that time was King's coach (he's now Roxborough's), was similarly
livid. "This sets a bad precedent, and it's not fair to the King people," Stanley said. "Their kids
work hard all this time, practicing, scouting and preparing for the excitement of their first game,
getting all pumped up, and the other team calls up and says, 'We're not coming.' It stinks."
Ted's note: This time, Penn's program lasted through the '09 season. The school closed in June
2010 and we'll see if it reopens at some point. This has been a bad century for debuts. We'll have
at least two more along the way (from basketball). For that story, by the way, I changed Only in
the Pub to Only in the Twelve because District 12 was just being born.
A Tisket, a Tasket, The Ball Went in the Wrong Basket . . .
The Pub began competing in the PIAA in the 2004-05 school year and the first team to play a
state tournament basketball game was Class AAA Bok -- vs. Phoenixville, at Germantown. The
Wildcats' first basket was "scored" by forward David Lorn, but not really. With Phoenixville ahead
by 3-0 and while fighting for a defensive rebound, the pony-tailed Lorn, one of the few Asians in
Pub hoops history, inadvertently knocked the ball into the wrong basket!! You could not have
made that up. Not in one million years. The Pub's first-ever PIAA state playoff points were
scored in the wrong basket! Gotta love that, right?! (Of course, Lorn did not get credit for the
points and in fact went scoreless for the game. Paul Lewis was the closest Phantom so the two
points went to him.)
Ted's note: This is a personal favorite. Pubness at its wacky best. I wonder if David tells people
that story in watering holes, at family gatherings, during lunch breaks at work, etc. A side issue
that night was the makeup of the crowd. Phoenixville is not exactly around the corner from
Germantown, but its fans outnumbered Bok's by at least 4 to 1 and maybe more like 5 or 6 to 1.
There were no more than 40 people rooting for Bok. Why no bus? Why no attempt to make it a
night to remember? If the players sense their school doesn't care, doesn't that make enthusiasm
harder to generate? . . . Oh, in case you're wondering, Bok's first real points were scored with
6:22 left in the first quarter as star guard Marquise Salley hit a 17-foot, left-wing jumper.
Just When the Scoreboard Thought It Had a Day Off . . .
In 2009, Dobbins and Roxborough played a football game that dragged through regulation with
neither team scoring a point. Even the final play was unsuccessful at stopping the futility as Dobbins'
Kevin Gransby missed a 36-yard field goal. Then . . . let the fireworks begin! The teams combined
for 46 points, scoring six, six and eight apiece through the first three OTs. Roxborough went first
in the fourth and Martin Culbreth posted an interception. On third down for Dobbins, Terrance
Stafford ran 3 yards to end it at 26-20.
Ted's note: Had to post something fireworksy on July 4, right? Oh, Roxborough wasn't finished
with the boredom-excitement gig. The next week the Indians AGAIN plodded through a scoreless
regulation, this time vs. Penn. And then lost again, 14-8, in two OTs.
June 27-July 3
Posted June 26
Take Your Balls and Go Into Pub Infamy . . .
In 1991, this complicated, two-part baseball scenario occurred. Rather than pull out bits and pieces
and risk confusing you, we'll post the stories (smile).
PUBLIC LEAGUE GAME IS HALTED IN BALL DISPUTE
BY TED SILARY
A flap over the quality of balls, compounded by a plate umpire's mistake, resulted yesterday in a "no decision" in a Public League baseball game between Engineering and Science and host University City.
Al Chancler , the league's baseball chairman, said the game will be replayed in its entirety, probably tomorrow.
U. City held a 10-6 lead in the sixth inning when E&S coach Charlie Brown informed plate umpire Joe Beard that he was taking his team off the field.
Said Chancler : "The umpire said, 'OK, that's the game. ' Charlie had already protested in the fourth inning. He should have been made to continue. "
The problem arose when UC coach Alex Saddic took only three new balls to the game. They were lost, or no longer usable, by the fourth inning and Saddic began giving the umps practice balls.
"I don't know where they got those things," Brown said. "I caught one (in the third-base coach's box). It was cheap. You could tell just by the touch. "
At that point, the coaches met with the umpires, Saddic explained the situation, and it was agreed that the game would continue.
"But my pitcher couldn't throw those balls," Brown said. "When I switched to another guy, he couldn't throw them, either. That's when I lodged the protest (with his team still ahead, 5-4, in the fourth inning). "
Said Saddic : "I think it was sour grapes. We don't have an endless supply of new balls. This isn't the suburbs. How come Charlie left when we were up, 10-6, and rallying? When he was ahead, everything was fine. It wasn't like we were using pingpong balls. They were baseballs. "
Engineering and Science (9-2) is fighting for a National Division playoff spot. UC is out of contention.
PUBLIC LEAGUE NIXES E&S' INFERIOR-BALL PROTEST
May 16, 1991
BY TED SILARY
A failure to follow proper procedure likely will cost Engineering and Science a Public League baseball playoff spot.
In a game last Monday at University City, E & S coach Charlie Brown, two innings after filing a formal protest over the use of inferior game balls, left the field with his team - with the permission of home plate umpire Joe Beard, he says - in the sixth inning of a game his team was losing, 10-6.
That night, Al Chancler , chairman of PL baseball, said the game would be replayed in its entirety.
Then came yesterday . . .
Tom Jacoby, the chief overseer of PL sports, overruled Chancler and awarded U. City the win.
Thus, E & S finishes the regular season at 9-3. Lamberton and Gratz have already clinched two of three National Division playoff spots. Because of tiebreakers, Furness (8-3), a first-year entrant, can claim the third today by beating lowly West Philadelphia (2-9).
Jacoby said he made his decision for two reasons.
"No. 1," he said, "baseball rules regarding protests were not followed by coach Brown. First you protest, then you finish the game. He left the field.
"No. 2, our league rules on protests call for the chairperson to get written reports from both coaches and the umpires, then confer with me. None of that was done by Al (before a decision was announced). "
Brown expressed severe disappointment with the verdict, largely because he feels that Jacoby has not been given the complete story.
"I did not pull my team off the field," Brown asserted. "We did not leave (without permission). With my kids still in the field, I asked the umpire, 'Do we have to continue playing with these baseballs? ' He said, 'That's the ballgame. ' That was it. He ended the game. I would not have just walked away. "
On the subject of how damaging the loss could be to E & S, Jacoby said, ''Let me say this. If I'm a coach in the running for a playoff spot, and I've already filed my protest, I'm going to make darn sure I finish that game. I'm not going to give up and walk away. "
According to Brown, his players were preparing to leave for yesterday's would-be makeup game when the word came from Jacoby.
"They were in shock," Brown said. "They don't know everything that's going on. I'll meet with them (today)."
Ted's note: E&S indeed lost out on that last National Division playoff spot to Furness, which then fell in the first round to Lincoln . . . By 21-0!
Posted June 25
Fourth and Goal and 70 Yards to Go! . . .
Yes, you read that correctly. In 2002, Overbrook faced fourth and goal on its own 30! Incredible.
The opponent was Edison. The sequence began on the 9. A procedure call moved the ball to the
14. Quarterback Neil Fisher then kept retreating and bobbing and weaving and retreating some
more and finally dumped the ball, drawing an intentional-grounding penalty. The ball was placed
on the 'Brook 45, meaning that play cost the Panthers 41 yards! Fisher threw an incompletion,
then was dropped by Brad Parker for a 15-yard loss. On fourth down, coach Ken Sturm declined
to show all-time brass. Keenan Brooks punted.
Ted's note: I covered this game, played at Roxborough, and happened to be standing on
Overbrook's side when this crazy scenario unfolded. I almost begged Sturm to go for it (smile),
but he was having none of it. I've always wondered if this is some kind of national record, not that
anyone would possibly keep track of something like this.
Posted June 24
One and Done and Not Much Fun . . .
In 2009, that was the first line in my story reporting that Esperanza had dropped out of Pub
football after one disastrous season. Far after that season, actually. The season was '08 and the
Toros made this decision just as '09 was about to begin. Reason? Low numbers and inexperience.
In '08, after not even having a JV team beforehand, Esperanza was allowed to jump right into
varsity play. It went 0-11 and broke the city record for points allowed in a season (455). In their
final game in '08, the Toros lost to Freire, 24-6. The Dragons were so happy, THEY dropped
Ted's note: I still can't get over this one. How can a school -- especially one where the basketball
and baseball teams are dominated by short and/or skinny kids -- be permitted to jump right into
varsity football with no JV season(s)? Brutal. They were lucky no one got seriously injured.
Posted June 23
If Johnson & Johnson ever needs guys for its ads . . .
In 2003, in a late-season game vs. University City, Germantown used six players named Johnson
(all unrelated). Akeem ran for 46 yards and two TDs. Jarell started at guard. Christen caught a
50-yard scoring pass. Gabriel had an interception. Justin had a fumble recovery. Phillip played
Ted's note: Shortly after the game ended, I asked coach Mike Hawkins if we could gather
the five Johnsons for a quick photo. After that, we learned of the sixth Johnson, Phillip, who'd
been down at one end taking the padding off a goal post. He'd recently been promoted from the
JV; "Hawk" had momentarily forgotten about him. In this same game, UC quarterback Kayon
Walton (illness) was unable to play, but got off a classic line when he saw teammate William
Gray pick up a ballcarrier and slam him to the turf. "Let me introduce you to my friend called
Ground!!" Also, the head linesman had a tattoo of a naked girl on his left arm. The breast
area was covered with a Band-Aid.
Posted June 22
Three teams in one championship football game . . .
In 1967, in an era before scheduled playoffs, three teams finished the season tied for first. League
honchos decided to play two half-games -- same day, same site (Northeast) -- to decide the
champion. First, Central beat Bartram, 13-6. Central scored the first two TDs on short runs by Rich
Weaver and Jack Gorman, then Marv Frazier returned a kickoff 95 yards for Bartram. After a short
break, during which Central coach Ed Veith had no time to discuss preparations for Edison, Edison
stormed downfield in 11 plays and Pedro Barez scored from the 1. But in the second "quarter,"
(half, actually), Paul Lobosco's fumble recovery gave Central the ball at Edison's 5, Johnnie
Williams immediately ran for a TD and Gorman passed for two to Handsome Wearing.
Ted's note: Pedro Barez was also a top-flight basketball/baseball player and probably still ranks as
the city's No. 1 Hispanic athlete. Handsome Wearing also starred in hoops and makes anybody's
Coolest Names Ever squad, right?