Philadelphia High School Baseball
A Look at
Rich Papirio's 31-Year
At Ryan (1978-86) and Egan/Conwell-Egan (1988-09)
page includes stories, special lists, record breakdown, recaps of wins in
games and the names of All-City/All-Catholic honorees during Coach Papirio's 31 seasons.
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Rich Papirio |
Rich Papirio coached baseball at Archbishop Ryan (1978-86) and Bishop Egan/Conwell-Egan (1988-2009) for 31 seasons, winning 287 Catholic League regular season games and three championships. His 1980 title team is considered one of the best in Catholic League history . . .
By Ted Silary
illustrate the desperate nature of the situation, a set crew from Hollywood
should have been summoned to the baseball field at Textile yesterday, where
the lords of the Catholic League staged their once-delayed championship
RYAN SEALED the Patriots'
fate with four-run outbursts in the third and fourth innings against
lefthander Mike Sohmer,
who had made short work of the Southern Division in the regular season, going 8-0 with eight complete games.
Mike, however, struggled in the division clincher over Cardinal O'Hara and was not in top form again. What made things
worse was the third-inning mandate from Ryan Coach Rich Papirio to his hitters.
"Coming in, we knew that Mike Sohmer was not an overpowering pitcher," Papirio said. "But he's such a smart pitcher, he
had us waving at his curves and making us swing late at his fastballs for awhile. So, we called a little meeting there and I told
the kids, 'Mike Sohmer has had his way so far. Let's start laying on the fastball and not worry too much about the curves.'
"And that's what we did. The kids attacked Mike's fastball."
Ken Pawloski lashed a two-run single and catcher Jim Vanderslice followed with a two-run double to account for the
third-inning runs. Pindyski tripled to open the fourth and promptly scored on a wild pitch. Later, Ryan added
unearned runs on Don Bradley's RBI single and Nick Russo's two-run double.
Meanwhile, Ryan's Joe Cohill was catching his spurs in the wood and risking an occasional pratfall.
AFTER SCORING unearned runs in the second and third, Carroll bunched a walk to Holt Parke, an RBI triple by Dan
Clancy, an RBI single by Pete Savini and a hit to shortstop by Paul Adelizzi to chase Cohill with none out in the fourth.
On came Gillespie, who fanned Dan Mostardi on a rising fastball, retired Scott Chamness on a line drive to right and
sweated bullets as Sohmer flied way out to right-center, sub rightfielder Kevin Duffy making a nifty running catch.
Gillespie worked two more scoreless innings and Jim Hanuscin got the chance to pitch the seventh, as Papirio made sure to
clear his bench.
Speaking of clearing something, slugger supreme Dan Cataline did just that one out into the sixth. And this home run was a
dwarf compared to some of them. The ball entered a tree perhaps 30 feet above field level in dead left. It traveled "only"
Vanderslice dabbed on some icing with a two-run single and Gillespie added the lettering, lofting a sacrifice fly.
"You line up any team against our team, there's no way that anyone is better," Gillespie said. "That's the way we looked at
it. We didn't get too many guys on first team All-Catholic (J. Pawloski and Cataline), but it's awful hard to find a guy on any
other team who's better than the guy on our team.
"Looking at it like that, we came in nice and loose. We knew we'd win. We knew we had the best team."
In a last-chance situation, who could ask for anything more?
EXTRA BASES: Ryan finished 22-1- 1, losing to La Salle in the regular season, tying Woodrow Wilson (Pa.) in eight innings
on a day four infield starters were involved with practice for the City All-Star Football Game . . . Soph sub Rick Sellitsch made
the play of the game in the seventh inning, diving to his right from first base and flipping to pitcher Jim Hanuscin for the out
. . . Scott Chamness , who will attend Canterbury Prep in Connecticut for hockey, lined two hits . . . Don Bradley will attend
Santa Ana (Calif.) JC, where he could play football and baseball . . . Dan Cataline finished the year with 11 homers and 44
RBI . . . Carroll Coach Paul McGeehan: "I watched Cat in batting practice. Of the four swings I saw, only one looked good. I
figured we might be OK. Well, then the game started."
This story was written after Rich guided the Raiders to the 1984 championship . . .
By Ted Silary
Archbishop Ryan's baseball team did not merely win the Catholic League championship in 1980. It staged an occupation.
The Raiders went 15-1 during Northern Division play, then swept past La Salle, 8-0, and Archbishop Carroll, 12-4, to
complete a 22-1 season that also included a non-league tie.
No reporter was idiotic enough Saturday at Erny Field to ask coach Rich Papirio to compare the teams after Ryan bumped
Monsignor Bonner, 8-3, to take its third title in 11 years. Upon request, however, Papirio was more than willing to compare
"It was my first in 1980 and you can never replace those feelings," Papirio said. "But this is so much more special.
"Egan and North were viewed as the probable favorites this season and people certainly expected Judge and Dougherty to
be up there. The word on us was, 'Ryan's had two nice JV teams, maybe they'll be a contender.' Well, we proved to be
more than a contender.
"It's more rewarding when you do it this way - come up the side lane instead of leading from the start."
If the teams were somehow melded into one, it's doubtful any of 1980's everyday starters would be dislodged in favor
of a Class of '84 representative. The fact that the current Raiders soon will prance through the streets of the Far Northeast
(and probably Wildwood, N.J.) in championship jackets says something about the merits of having mettle.
When a guy the size of second baseman Joe "Spanky" Jenkins tries out for a team, the coach usually introduces him to
the joys of keeping the scorebook.
All Jenkins did Saturday was pepper the scorebook with five hits, two runs and three RBI. Admittedly, one hit was a
borderline gift (botched roller to short that he may have beaten out anyway) and another was a misjudged pop to right.
Jenkins collected a three-run homer and four RBI as Ryan topped Egan in the final game of the regular season, making
both teams 13-3 but giving the Raiders the division crown because they had twice beaten Egan. It also was Jenkins who
last week contributed an RBI single to the 9-6, division-clinching playoff win over North Catholic.
He had to watch the last three innings, though, having been ejected for going out of his way to bump into North's
catcher following a forceout.
"I wasn't thinking on that one," he said sheepishly. "I was trying to break up the doubleplay, even though he never went
to throw it. Yesterday in school, the guys were kidding me. At least four times someone said to me, 'Just make sure you
don't get thrown out of the game.'
"This is a great feeling. It's good to have your best game in the middle of the season, but it's even better to have it in the
"When Joe Jenkins came up with men on base, I knew he was going to deliver," Papirio said. "There was never a doubt."
In 1980, Jenkins did not get to see any of Ryan's baseball heroics. Of course, at that time he was having trouble seeing
his shoe tops.
"I got nicknamed 'Spanky' because I used to look like him," Jenkins said laughing, in reference to the character in
"Spanky & Our Gang."
"I was short and fat. Not fat - stocky. Shouldn't say fat. I tried fighting (the nickname), but I lost. I like it now. It's been
with me four or five years."
Retiring coach Bob Stratton had been with Bonner for 19 years. He went out a loser because righthander Sean Harding
was unable to duplicate his six-hit, nine-strikeout performance in the South final against West Catholic; also because of
shaky fielding (three errors) and lack of pop (four hits, none with runners in scoring position).
Only Ryan fans left saying the game was great. Actually, it was afflicted by a bad case of the blahs, although Dennis
Hennelly's solo, fifth-inning homer did pull Bonner within 4-3.
Rightfielder Joe Wagner followed Jenkins's single and Tim Brydges's double with a two-run double in the visiting sixth
for a 6-3 lead and Jim Doherty, who relieved winner Rich Schonewolf after five, ended all suspense in the bottom half by
retiring Hennelly on a two-out, bases-loaded popup to shortstop Nick Chichilitti.
"If Hennelly hits another one," Papirio said, "Bonner's on its way to the championship."
Instead, the winner was Ryan, which fielded a team that never will be memorialized. That's all right. All these guys ever
wanted to do was take home the plaque.
EXTRA BASES: Bob Stratton coached Bonner to Catholic and City championships in 1970 . . . Ryan's 1980 everyday
eight: Steve Pindyski, cf; Jim Pawloski, 1b; Bruce Voell, rf; Dan Cataline, lf; Don Bradley, 3b; Nick Russo, 2b; Ken
Pawloski, ss; Jim Vanderslice, c . . . The Rev. Richard Olszewski, Ryan's moderator, had his nose bloodied in a
celebration pileup at the mound after the game.
This story was written in 2006 after
Rich broke the lengthy title drought at
Egan/C-E . . .
By Ted Silary
SNAKEBITTEN no more.
The baseball-playing Eagles of Conwell-Egan High proved so yesterday, but they knew so a day earlier.
Face your fear. That's what people say, right?
So after Tuesday's practice, four prime-time performers, mindful of their school's long history of gut-wrenching
playoff disasters, came up with this brainstorm: We'll go to the Delaware River in Morrisville and catch a snake.
After C-E, nee Bishop Egan, rolled past St. Joseph's Prep, 8-3, in sweltering weather at Widener University to win
its second-ever diamond title and first since 1968, coach Rich Papirio, a backup on that long-ago squad, noted that
many of his players all season had maintained a refuse-to-lose approach.
He added: "I've been so relaxed as a coach this season. With my son [Phil] serving in Iraq, I realize wholeheartedly
that this is just a game."
Papirio then laughed and readdressed the was-his-program-snakebitten issue.
"You know what? Talk to these guys," he said, gesturing toward his players. "They play with snakes every day."
He then turned and hollered: "Where's Ryan Buch?! Where's the video of the snake?! Go get it! Show it to 'em! . . .
Wait till you see it. It's bigger than Ryan Buch. I get scared looking at it."
Buch, a senior transfer from Pennsbury, is C-E's rightfielder, and his circus catch of Tom Elliott's liner ended the
Following orders, he trotted into the dugout and came out with his cell phone. And there it was - the hunt, and
capture, of a 4-foot snake (let's be conservative here) by Buch, third baseman Ryan Terry, centerfielder John Malloy
and catcher Rich Dupell.
If past Eagles had tried this, somehow the snake would have been filled with venom. Someone would have
disappeared in quicksand. The franchise player would have stepped on a huge nail or large piece of glass.
This time? Nothing went wrong. Snakebitten no more. Not even literally.
"It was a little hard catching it," Buch said. "But we got it, and had it in a bucket. Then we put it back in the river."
Said Malloy: "We missed it the first time. Then I was standing in the water and it came swimmin' right at me, with
its mouth open! I had a little stick in my hand, and swung it. Then I ran. Ryan Terry eventually caught it."
Pause. Big smile. "That was the most fun I ever had at a river."
Most fun ever at a ballpark? Had to be yesterday. For all of them.
C-E won a pregame coin flip and chose to bat last, of course, but the Prep scored once in the first on a two-out
ground-ball bobble (every C-E loyalist, bar none, had to be thinking, "Not this again") and Matt Tiagwad's RBI
double to right-center.
But check this out: The Eagles committed no other miscues en route to finishing 16-0 against CL opposition (14-0,
two playoffs). And they had to make plays, too, because senior righthander Brian Herman, a Rider signee coming off
a complete-game win in the semis over Monsignor Bonner, struck out a low-for-him five.
Dupell, for one, knew about C-E's long-standing miseries. Thought about them, too, as much as he tried to avoid that.
"All you can do," he said, "is make sure you don't make mistakes, and hope the other guys don't, either. If so, you
stay supportive and pick each other up."
Even in the seventh, with a five-run lead, C-E's fans were somewhat subdued. They watched and hoped and
undoubtedly kept muttering under their breath: "No messups. Please, no messups. I can't take it."
When it was over, the Eagles rejoiced in several areas, then posed for pictures at home plate. Malloy, finally yielding
to sustained begging, then carried the plaque to where the joyous students stood, at the front of bleachers. He moved
left to right in front of them, allowing those in front to reach through netting and briefly touch the plaque.
"This is awesome," he said. "It means so much to do this. We knew we had the skill. We only needed the execution.
Except for that one early error, we were flawless."
C-E was assuredly challenged. The 1-0 deficit disappeared in the third. Dupell worked a two-out walk, Herman drove
in the courtesy runner, Jim Love, with a double to right-center, and Ryan Terry followed with a two-run homer off the
foul pole in the short leftfield corner (300 feet).
The lead disappeared quickly. Aaron Haas responded with his own two-out hit, a single, and Matt Leddy imitated
Ryan Howard with an inside-out, two-run homer a few feet inside the rightfield foul pole (309 feet).
Ed Barry (double) and Dupell (single) ripped hits for RBI in the bottom half. Leddy replaced lefty Doug DiSandro for
the fifth and two more runs appeared, thanks to hits by John McDonald (single) and Mike Rugghia (double). Tiagwad
surrendered an unearned run in the seventh.
The Prep committed four errors and several other times were guilty of "almosts."
"All credit goes to Conwell-Egan," coach Chris Rupertus said. "They don't strike out much. They force you to make
plays. The pressure's always on. Seemed like they got a lot of big two-out hits, too. Well, so did we. But they got
more, because they had eight runs and we had three."
Rupertus' hunch was correct. All 11 runs were scored with two away.
Papirio said the Eagles finally got rolling because they made adjustments the second time through the lineup, moving
up in the box to reduce the effectiveness of DiSandro's curve and tailing fastball. Also, he and the players gave major
credit to pitching coach Dante Cefalone, mostly for what he did after last year's loss to La Salle in the final.
"He made sure we stood there and watched them celebrate," Terry said. "He told us to remember what it felt like. He
kept saying, 'That's going to be us next year.' "
Herman, the coaches' Northern Division MVP, allowed five hits and walked none. He did plunk a batter.
Herman said he knew immediately after Saturday's semi that he wanted to pitch in the final. All he could do was
hope he'd receive permission. That came Tuesday after a bullpen session of 15 to 20 pitches for Cefalone.
"I was a little tight," Herman said. "That's to be expected. Overall I felt fine."
Said Dupell: "He focuses on what he wants, then gets it. He knows how to do the job. I know he's going to be
something in baseball. I'll be able to say, 'Yeah, I caught that kid in high school.' "
Along with a snake that served as an omen.
Title tidbits: Egan's worst misery came in '83, when it fell to O'Hara in the title game after having a three-run lead in
the seventh with two out, nobody on and an 0-2 count on Joe Romano . . . Rich Papirio also coached Ryan to
championships in '80 and '84 in a nine-season stint ending in '86. He was out of coaching in '87. This was his 19th
Egan/C-E season . . . Six Eagles had RBI . . . In '68, Egan won the City Title, 1-0, over Southern in 11 innings on a
bases-loaded walk. Egan's Dennis Yesenosky (20) and Southern's Willie Jones combined for 36 strikeouts.
the players who earned first or second team Coaches'
All-Catholic honors during
Rich Papirio's 31 seasons as the coach at Ryan (1978-86) and Egan/C-E (1988-09).
Recaps of Wins in Catholic League