Old Timers Bats & Balls Club

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  The organization was started by eight to 10 guys whose baseball relationships, in some cases, stretched back to stickball games on the schoolyard at Forrest Elementary, Cottman and Cottage. Most were later coaches and/or semi-pro players with strong Northeast-area bonds. Those with ties to other sports have since been welcomed into the group. The club's four officers are Ron March, Jack Purdy, Chuck Newns and Ron Fritz. Luncheons are held four times a year at Randi's Restaurant and Bar, in Bustleton.
  Those interested in joining the club may call Purdy at 215-968-0404. Said Purdy, "That's a good phone number for me because I always went 0-for-4."
  In photo, L to R -- Jack Purdy, Chuck Newns, Randi's owner Jim D'Amico, Ron March and Ron Fritz.

  On April 12, 2007, the club presented an award to former Frankford HS football
coach Al Angelo. Here is the story about that luncheon.
Click here for some photos of Al and others.

If you'd like to contact Al, his e-mail address is alangelo01@comcast.net.

Al Angelo amazed by outpouring of love

AL ANGELO is still giving passionate speeches about the best way to keep fighting and overcome long odds.

Only now they're internal.

Even for those with only a passing interest in high school sports, the name Al Angelo, owned humbly by one of the very best coaches and men-molders in city history, rings a Liberty-sized bell.

In 21 seasons with Frankford's football team (1965 to '84, '87), he compiled an overall record of 184-39-5 and won a record 10 Public League championships. It wasn't as if he were spinning his wheels at the end, either, as his '87 squad posted a 12-0 mark that still ranks as the best in Pub history.

These are now challenging times, however. Predictably, Angelo is in full, tackle-this-head-on mode.

Yesterday at Randi's Restaurant and Bar, on Grant Avenue near Bustleton, Angelo received a special award for career achievement/lifetime impact from the Old Timers Bats & Balls Club, an organization that began 3 years ago with a decided baseball slant but has since branched out.

In fact, the award is now named after a basketball legend, Bill "Pickles" Kennedy (Abraham Lincoln, Temple, NBA), who received it shortly before he died last September in an auto accident.

In his acceptance speech, delivered to about 100 luncheon-goers, Angelo drew a laugh when he said, "It's really great to be here today . . . It's great to be anywhere."

Lots of older guys like that line; Angelo will turn 77 on May 2. But there was a much deeper meaning for him. Since just after Thanksgiving, he has been battling an especially aggressive form of cancer.

More than 30 times, he has traveled back to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania from his home in Seaville, N.J., not far from Ocean City, for chemotherapy and radiation. He's currently on a monthlong break, but treatments will soon resume.

Word about Angelo's status has traveled through the Frankford and city football communities. He is greatly appreciative, and amazed, that he has received hundreds of phone calls, cards and letters.

"I don't know how people are finding me," he said, smiling.

"I live along Route 9. People see that address, they think I'm a farmer now."

Of his mind-set, he noted: "I've accepted what I have really well. I never say, 'Why me?' I feel like this: 'I have it. Now what can I do about it?' I've been able to keep my focus and remain upbeat. I haven't been despondent. They wanted to give me medication for depression. I told them, 'I'm OK. I don't need it.' I'm happy."

Two club members, defensive back Joe Scarpati (primarily the Eagles) and pitcher Bobby Shantz (primarily the Philadelphia A's), are former high-level pros. Because of the football connection, Scarpati was chosen to introduce Angelo.

He noted that aside from parents, coaches are the most important people in young athletes' lives and he praised Angelo for his profound effect on his players.

Part of the plaque's inscription, read by Scarpati, was exactly on target: "He loves his family. He loves his players. He loves anybody he meets."

Angelo has always displayed a knack for making people he engages in conversation feel as if they're the legends.

Even in his speech, he deflected attention by telling a story about the influence another Frankford coach, Elwood Geiges, had on football broadcasting way back in the early 1920s.

Geiges was also a prominent college official.

Angelo said Geiges helped the radio guys by inventing hand signals for holding, offside, etc., and was later the president of the rules committee.

"A Frankford football guy did that," he added. "Pretty great, huh? Just wanted to throw that in."

The best visual yesterday came as the luncheon wound down. Angelo took a seat at a side table and exchanged greetings with a steady procession of old friends, in-passing acquaintances, and ex-players who happened to be attending. (The award was supposed to be a surprise and was not widely hinted beforehand, but Angelo did find out shortly after he arrived.)

Rich Geiger, an All-City lineman for Frankford in 1973, gave Angelo a hug and kiss and then told him: "I love you. I always try to be just like you."

Angelo said he recently attended a reunion involving about 20 members of the 1962 team (he was then an assistant to Worthington "Odie" Surrick) at the home of player Bob Szeliga and had "a wonderful time."

He is also greatly anticipating an overall Frankford football reunion to be held May 12, 2 to 6 p.m., at Dugan's Restaurant, on Roosevelt Boulevard. (For information, visit frankfordpioneersfootball.com.)

"I hope we get a nice turnout of players from all different classes," he said.

When asked what the luncheon was meaning to him, Angelo said: "The award is nice, but just seeing the people is what makes it so special.

"Seeing guys from this neighborhood, that team. Coaches, referees, players . . . People you knew through your life. Getting to shake their hand. Talk for a couple minutes. I love that part of it." *