Philadelphia High School Baseball

A Look at Larry Conti's 15-Year Coaching
Career At North Catholic (1976-90)

  This page includes stories, special lists, record breakdown, recaps of wins in championship
games and the names of All-City/All-Catholic honorees during Coach Conti's 15 seasons.
 . . .
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Jumping for joy after North won the 1977 City Title -- P Jeff Etsell and C Tom Bonk

Larry Conti

Coach Conti's
Daily News All-City Players:

Tom Bonk C 1979
Jim Hooven P 1980
Tom Frisco INF 1981
John Weick OF 1981
Larry Alosi OF 1982
Javier Barreto OF 1986
Jerry Rose OF 1986
Dave Mastropietro OF 1987
Bob Plumley C 1982
Fred Ehrmann INF 1983
Bill Garrison INF 1984
Tom Kalpokas OF 1984
Ken Sanger 1B 1986
Dave Mastropietro OF 1986
Dave Heineman 1B 1988
Larry Murtagh 1B 1978
Rusty Bono OF 1979
Dan Galiczynski OF 1979
Tom Frisco INF 1980
Joe Schultice P 1982
Mickey Kada P 1983
Steve Korpalski INF 1985
Jim Durie C 1986
Dan Devine C 1989
Tim Weick DH 1989




Larry Conti
Tribute Page

  Larry Conti coached baseball at North Catholic for 15 seasons (1976-90), winning 150 Catholic League regular season games and four championships (three Catholic, one City). His 1986 CL title was collected in nail-biting fashion. Here is that story . . .

By Ted Silary

  Ken Sanger desperately needed a place to hide. Hopefully large, definitely deep.
  Only one hole - made by pitchers directly in front of the rubber - was located nearby, however, and that was not nearly cavernous enough to crawl into.
  All Sanger could do was remain at first base and ponder how he forever expected to be remembered by North Catholic baseball fans - not to mention his teammates and coaches - after yesterday's Catholic League championship game against St. John Neumann at Temple's Erny Field.
  "I thought of myself as 'The Goat That Lost the Game,' " Sanger said. "I thought I was going to have to live with that for the rest of my life, costing us the Catholic League championship game.
  "Later, when I came up to the plate, it felt like all eyes were on me. It was like I could hear people saying, 'Ah, he's going to mess up at
bat, too.' "
  But Sanger did not mess up his chance for redemption, and the Falcons went on to win, 13-7.
  After reliever Javier Barreto (infield single) and shortstop Kevin Comey (single to center) reached base to start the visiting seventh for North - trailing, 7-5, in part because of Sanger's butchering of a fourth-inning popup - Sanger crushed a three-run homer to right-center.
  The blast did more than give the Falcons an 8-7 lead. It also provided them enough momentum to frolic to five more runs.
  Fourteen batters went to the plate against Brian Smith, Steve Cahill and Rob Carfagno, who faced only one and recorded the last out. Five netted base hits, including two apiece for Barreto and Comey. Three had homers, including the second of the game for junior rightfielder Dave Mastropietro (3-for-4, 3 RBI) and one for Barreto. Four drew walks. Six of the seven hits were smoked, too; the Buccos could not claim later they had been done in by bleeders.
  Sanger's boo-boo, meanwhile, took place after Barreto had followed three walks by starter Joe Gillespie with one of his own, allowing Neumann to scramble into a 5-5 tie.
  Then, Anthony "Tonto" Marinucci lofted a high pop near first. Sanger called for it, the wind played just enough tricks, and the ball plopped several inches inside the first base line. Everyone was running with two out, so Joe Marino and Ted Buono (courtesy runner for catcher Eddie Ross) scored easily.
  Barreto fanned Mark Kavalauskas to end the inning and thereafter allowed only one baserunner - Anthony Grosso, erased in a seventh-inning doubleplay - while raising his strikeout total to five.
  "The ball looked like it was going foul," said Sanger, whose identical twin brother, Kevin, was stationed at third base. "Then the wind curved it back fair. I was really down on myself. Luckily, I came back (with something positive). That's what baseball is all about."  

  continued right below . . .

Catholic League
1976: 12-4
1977: 12-4
1978: 6-10
1979: 12-4
1980: 9-7
1981: 13-3
1982: 11-5
1983: 11-5
1984: 11-5
1985: 12-4
1986: 13-3
1987: 7-9
1988: 6-10
1989: 9-7 
1990: 6-10
Total: 150-90



Playoff Appearances Ended in . . .
1977, 1981, 1986
1977, 1984, 1985

Rich Wilde, ss
Ray Carr, 2b
Leon Rysak, cf
Jeff Etsell, p
Bill Bogucki, 3b
Art Cauto, 1b
Mike Chrobocinski, rf
Gary Wilson, c
Steve Bartosiewicz, lf
Rob Gerold, cf
Larry Alosi, lf
Tom Frisco, ss
John Weick, 1b
Vince Ciaramella, p
Mark Transue, c
Tony Szymendera, rf
Gene Bryan, 3b
Andy Cianci, 2b
Jerry Rose, cf
Javier Barreto, lf
Kevin Comey, ss
Ken Sanger, 1b
Dave Mastropietro, rf
Tom Hewitt, 2b
Kevin Sanger, 3b
Joe Gillespie, p
Jim Durie, c



  North's players looked comatose as they took the field in the bottom of the sixth. None ran and most seemed to be carrying
balls and chains. In the top half, a promising one-out rally had been squashed when Smith picked Gillespie off second
mmediately upon switching from shortstop to replace Marinucci. Jerry Rose then tapped out to the mound.
  "We were down, sure, but we knew we'd come back," Sanger said. "We've got a lot of leaders on this team."
  According to Barreto, coach Larry Conti told the Falcons before their last at-bat, "We're down two, but don't worry about
it. We are going to come back. Let the ball come belt-high, then hit it somewhere."
  "I knew we'd come back . . . somehow," Barreto added.
  Even though North was the away team, there was some speculation that Conti would have Sanger bunting in the seventh,
that he would play for the tie and let the home seventh take care of itself.
  "You know how many times Kenny Sanger has bunted in his life? " Conti asked with a laugh, implying none would be the
answer. "If a hitter is up, you hit. We don't believe in giving up outs. It's hard to get people to have confidence in their hitting
when you're always doing everything else but letting them hit."
  "Mr. Conti said, 'Kenny, do you think you want to bunt, or do you want to hit away? ' " Sanger said. "I said, 'I'll hit away.'
He said, 'I know you want to hit away. Let's go.'
  "The pitch before the home run was a high fastball that I took my eye off. The next pitch was almost exactly the same. I
knew it was gone. It was like I didn't even know where I was. I was lost. It was so exciting."
  Ken and Kevin Sanger are exasperatingly difficult to tell apart, but they are opposites when it comes to baseball. Ken bats
left, throws left. Kevin does both righty. Last year, Ken started in one side of the outfield (right), Kevin in the other.
  "First and third are what we've played most of our careers," Ken said. ''We were comfortable moving to the infield this year.
Nobody can tell us apart unless they see us every day and know us. A couple of teachers can tell us apart, but not that many.
We have every class together. Kevin either sits behind me or next to me because we have to sit in alphabetical order. The
teachers who can't tell us apart just call both of us 'Sanger.' "
  Yesterday, admirers who swarmed onto the field were calling Ken Sanger ''hero."
  Some four-letter words are better than others.
  TITLE TIDBITS: Larry Conti also steered North to championships in 1977 and '81 and he said neither team was as
talented as this one. Neumann, coached by Bob Santore, was looking for its first title since 1960 . . . The Falcons (20-7) won
15 of their last 17 after Conti convened what he called "a meeting of the mind" one day at Piccoli Playground: "I wasn't
interested in their minds. Since then, we lost only to Wood and to Southern. I know it's a rationalization, but they were both
games we didn't need to win." . . . Homers by Brian Smith and Mark Kavalauskas gave Neumann two-spots in the third and
fourth . . . Santore: "If we get the first guy out in the seventh, maybe everything's different. This will hurt in the short term,
but we were 23-6 and not too many teams have a record like that." . . . Northern Division teams have won 10 of the last 14
championships . . . A North vs. South all- star game will be played June 14, 1 p.m., at Archbishop Ryan.

This story was written after Larry steered the Falcons past Northeast for the 1977
City Title . . .

This story was written after Larry's Falcons won the 1981 CL crown . . .  

By Ted Silary
  To achieve the proper effect, someone should have dashed to the mound and jammed a bottle of after-shave
into the pitcher's right hand.
  Vince Ciaramella opened the seventh inning of Saturday's Catholic League baseball championship game by
striking out two Cardinal O'Hara pinch-hitters, Marty Schlossman and Ed Harrison, and the smell of victory was
so powerful, even the North Catholic fans not in attendance were getting a whiff.
  However, pinch-hitter Tom Cummings managed a four-pitch walk and leadoff man Tom Signora did the same.
  "Vince is our money man," said North Coach Larry Conti. "I didn't want to take him out. People use the word
'choke' a little early. That's a strong word. Vince would never do what people mean when they use the word
  " . . . I did, however," Conti said, laughing, "want to get his attention."
  CONTI GAVE Ciaramella a thanks-I-needed-that slap in the face by dispatching Rob Stone and Mickey Kada
to the bullpen.
  Two pitches later, Sean Sullivan lofted a pop to medium left that was caught over-the-shoulder style by
shortstop Tom Frisco. The sequence gave the Falcons a 4-2 win and their second title in five seasons.
  "I couldn't tell if I'd catch it or not," said Frisco. "The sun was shining straight down. I looked up and prayed
that the ball would enter my glove. I didn't feel the ball go in because it hit the webbing part. But when I didn't
see the ball on the ground, I said to myself, 'Yeah, I like it.' " 
  "After I struck out the first two," said Ciaramella, " I started to get excited and thought, 'One more. ' I lost my
concentration. Then I saw two relievers down there. I told myself, 'Hey, you'd better finish this game right now.
Don't mess up so you have to get pulled. I reached back for a little extra and the kid popped it up."
  ALL SEASON, RIVALS questioned North's staff because Ciaramella and Tom Cotton failed to light up radar
guns and flood scorebooks with capital Ks.
  Ciaramella, however, finished with a mark of 7-1 including the regular season and playoffs. His only loss was
a four-hit effort against Judge.
  The last time North seized the league by the throat, lefty Jeff Etsell (12-3 overall) was four-fifths of the show,
whiffing 27 batters in two playoffs and the City Title win over Northeast. Ciaramella never charged into the
spotlight, but he performed well by combining grit and adequate tools.
  "When people talked about our pitching, I put it aside and tried to do the best I could," Vince said. " All I
needed to do was throw grounders because our fielders would pick them up. They always gave me lots of runs,
too, like five or six a game. Nah, they usually gave me seven or eight."
  Usually centerfielder Rob Gerold, a two-year starter overlooked on occasion, was involved in scoring runs
more than producing them. This time, Rob lined RBI singles to left in the second and sixth off loser Jim Wills.
  "When a lefty's pitching, I'm a little shaky," Rob admitted. " But in a way, facing lefties makes me concentrate
harder. The ball seems to whip in there harder. I wait as long as I can and slap it to left, try to avoid bailing out.
  "THE ONLY TIME it (lack of attention) bothered me was in the all-star voting. I'd worked hard to make it,
but the Dougherty guys, Doug Flanagan and Ray Saggese, were picked. They're good. What can I say? But it
gave me extra incentive for the last few games."
  North opened the scoring in the first on Larry Alosi's double to left and Frisco's single to right. In the second,
Mark Transue's walk, Tony Szymendera's double, Gene Bryan's RBI infield single (bad hop to shortstop that
Tom Signora deflected) and Gerold's single padded the lead to 3-0.
  After the final out the Falcons formed a pile of humanity along the third-base line. After they untangled,
everyone had a story to tell, a reason for the success.
  Take Frisco . . . he committed two errors in the win over Dougherty and was totally teed off at himself.
Against O'Hara, Tom started a double play (with Andy Cianci making a fantastic pivot) and made two clutch
plays following Clark's double.
  "OVERALL, MY performance against Dougherty wasn't that bad, but I still didn't like it at all," Frisco said.
"I was hoping to do something better today.
  "That was one good thing about this team. If one guy wasn't playing his best, somebody else would pick him
up. We had to play that way. Mr. Conti wouldn't settle for anything less. It was 100 percent or take a seat on the
  Saturday, several Falcons took seats on teammates' shoulders for mini-rides.
  Also, everybody gawked at the championship plaque.
  Meanwhile, when you walked near Vince Ciaramella, you could almost smell the after-shave.
  Thanks, he needed that.
  At Thursday's practice, the Falcons presented Coach Larry Conti with a $100 gift certificate for a clothing
store in Frankford.
  "You talk about nice gestures. That really floored me," Conti said.

  Below are the players who earned first or second team Coaches' All-Catholic honors during
Larry Conti's 15 seasons as the coach at North Catholic (1976-90).

2B Mike Robinson 1976
SS Ray Zawisza 1976
C Don Speechley 1976
OF *Kevin Salamon 1976
2B Ray Carr 1977
OF Leon Rysak 1977
P Jeff Etsell 1977
1B Larry Murtagh 1978
C Tom Bonk 1979
OF Rusty Bono 1979
OF John Weick 1980
P Jim Hooven 1980
SS *Tom Frisco 1981
OF John Weick 1981
C Bob Plumley 1982
OF Larry Alosi 1982
P Mickey Kada 1983
P Jeff Parker 1984
OF Ken Sanger 1985
P Sean McLaughlin 1985
1B Tim Donnelly 1985
1B Ken Sanger 1986
C Jim Durie 1986
OF *Javier Barreto 1986
OF Jerry Rose 1986
OF Dave Mastropietro 1986
SS Kevin Comey 1987
C Jim Durie 1987
OF Dave Mastropietro 1987
SS Dave Heineman 1988
C Dan Devine 1989
OF Jim Sweeney 1976
P Jeff Etsell 1976
SS Rich Wilde 1977
C Tom Bonk 1978
OF Jim McGinley 1978
C Mark Transue 1981
P Vince Ciaramella 1981
P Joe Schultice 1982
2B Fred Ehrmann 1983
SS Bill Garrison 1983
OF Greg Farrell 1983
SS Bill Garrison 1984
OF Tom Kalpokas 1984
OF Logan Kennerly 1984
3B Steve Korpalski 1985
SS Joe Oleykowski 1985
P Joe Gillespie 1986
C Jamie Makowski 1988

Recaps of Wins in Catholic League Championship Games

At Temple's Erny Field
North 3, Bonner 2
    The Falcons trailed, 2-0, entering the home seventh and standout lefty Tom Stauffer was cruising. Art Cauto and Mike Chrobocinski drew walks. With the count 2-2 on Jack Hogan, who'd been inserted to bunt the runners over, coach Larry Conti went to Steve Buchanan and the result was a single to center to load the bases. Two runs scored on Tom Bonk's misplayed grounder and Leon Rysak later won it with an RBI single to center. Jeff Etsell allowed five hits, fanned 11. Stauffer allowed four hits, fanned 10. Tony Manzi had an RBI triple on an 0-2 pitch in the fifth. In the seventh, an 0-2 pitch to Manzi skipped to the screen and Mike Baselice scored as his hard slide dislodged the ball from Etsell's glove.
At Temple's Erny Field
North 4, O'Hara 2
    Vince Ciaramella pitched a three-hitter and overcame a battle with a slight case of nerves in the seventh to nail down the win. Ciaramella struck out the first two batters, then walked the next two on eight pitches total. After seeing two relievers trot to the bullpen, he retired Sean Sullivan as shortstop Tom Frisco made an over-the-shoulder catch of a popup. Rob Gerold went 2-for-4 with two RBI. For O'Hara, George Clark had a two-run double in the sixth.
At Temple's Erny Field
North 13, Neumann 7
    The ball was flyin' out like crazy. North slammed four homers. Neumann hit two. Trailing by 7-5, North exploded for eight runs in a 14-batter visiting seventh as Ken Sanger (four RBI), Dave Mastropietro (second of the game) and Javier Barreto all homered. Mastropietro and Barreto halved six RBI. Barreto won in relief by allowing one hit and no runs in 3 2/3 innings. For Neumann, Brian Smith and Mark Kavalauskas had two-run homers.

Recap of Win in City Title

At Temple's Erny Field
North Catholic 13, Northeast 2
    Art Cauto went 3-for-4 with a double and six RBI in the No. 6 hole and Jeff Etsell pitched a three-hitter with six strikeouts. Leon Rysak went 3-for-4, stole two bases and scored three runs and Gary Wilson went 3-for-4 with a double and triple. In 21 postseason innings, Etsell allowed 17 hits and fanned 27. John Getz had two hits for Northeast.