35th Kennett Old Timers Baseball Banquet on deck
● By Steven Hoffman
Mickey Morandini, a former all-star second baseman with the Philadelphia Phillies, will step to the plate as the guest speaker at the 35th Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association banquet on Saturday, Jan. 17. Eight standout baseball players from the area are also being inducted into the organization's Hall of Fame that evening.
“We have a good group of guys being inducted this year,” said Bob Burton, the president of the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association. “It's going to be a nice night.”
This year's inductees are Mark Grandizio, Dr. Gerald Green, Jeffrey Greene, Sr., John Kochmansky, David Levan, Jr., Padric Miller, Paul Sergi, and Doug Stirling. Seven of this year's inductees played with the Kennett Men's Senior Baseball League, a fact that makes Steve Potter very proud.
“As the founder of the Kennett Of the Kennett Men's Senior Baseball League, I am very proud that seven of this year's eight inductees played in the league,” said Potter, himself a member of the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association Hall of Fame. “I think that says a lot about the caliber of baseball that was played over the 13 years that the league has existed.”
By Potter's count, 29 of the local hall of famers have played for the Kennett Men's Senior Baseball League at one time or another. Ten members of the hall of fame played on a 2009 Kennett squad that won the MSBL Fall Classic National Tournament.
The Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association was established four decades ago by a group of baseball enthusiasts that included Howard Lynn, Bat Burton, Donald McKay, Donnie Davenport, Lou Manfredi, John Moynighan, Gordon Farquhar, and Joe Husband. The goal was to establish a hall of fame that honors local standout baseball players with a banquet that recognizes the accomplishments of the inductees. This mid-winter celebration of the boys of summer always blends a tribute to local baseball players with a lively discussion about the grand old game. Through the years, the Phillies have supported the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association and its banquet. Larry Shenk, an executive with the Phillies, has helped arrange guest speakers for many years. The 2015 banquet is a return engagement for Morandini, who was also the guest speaker last January.
Morandini has long been a favorite of Phillies fans, who would no doubt be pleased if the 2015 team can duplicate a feat of the 1993 squad that won the National League pennant just one year after finishing in last place. Morandini was a member of that 1993 team that won 97 games—and an enduring place in the hearts of Phillies fans everywhere with a colorful cast of characters that included Darren Daulton, John Kruk, Curt Schilling, Dave Hollins, Mitch Williams, and Lenny Dykstra. Morandini played second base and batted near or at the top of the order for the 1993 team.
Morandini spent nine of his eleven Major League seasons in a Phillies uniform. He collected 1,222 hits and posted a batting average of .268 during the course of his career. On Sept. 20, 1992, Morandini became just the ninth player in Major League history to turn an unassisted triple play. The avid baseball fans in attendance at the banquet will have the opportunity to ask Morandini about the triple play and the memorable 1993 season.
Burton noted that Morandini currently serves on the Phillies' development staff with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and will have plenty of insights to share on the top prospects in the system.
The evening is also an opportunity to celebrate some of the finest baseball players in the area. All of this year's inductees have impressive accomplishments on the baseball diamond.
Mark Grandizio, a resident of Glenmoore, grew up playing in the Twin Valley PONY League, where he earned multiple all-star selections as a second baseman. His teams won four championships during this time. He played scholastic ice hockey in Downingtown before graduating from West Chester University with a degree in history.
Grandizio then played for a total of 27 years in the Coatesville Adult League, where his teams won 20 regular season titles and 13 league championships. He became a player-manager and was voted as the Most Valuable Player in the championships twice.
He served two terms as the president of the Coatesville Adult League and played for six seasons in the Kennett Men's Senior Baseball League. His team won the league championship five times. Grandizio has participated in the MSBL Fall Classic National Tournament since 2001, making six championship appearances and winning the title in 2009 as the player-manager. He batted .550 for the week-long tournament. Grandizio was also the player-manager of the Blue Rocks team that won a national title this past November. He hit .440 in that tournament.
Dr. Gerald Green played in the Brandywine Little League in Wilmington, Del. and the Nor-Del organization in Claymont, Del. before becoming a standout on the Concord High School team. In his junior and senior seasons, Green played on the Delaware State Championship-winning squads. He earned an invitation to try out for the Cincinnati Reds organization after his senior season in high school. He went on to play one year of baseball at Temple University.
Later, Green was a member of teams that achieved a great deal of success in the Kennett and Coatesville Adult Leagues. He was voted a tournament MVP with the Kennett Blue Rocks in 1997. In 2000, he and Grandizio shared the League MVP Award. He has been a member of the teams that have traveled to Florida for the MSBL Fall Classic National Baseball Tournament, including those squads that won championships in 2009 and 2014. The Honey Brook resident works as a periodontist in Lancaster.
Jeffrey Allen Greene, Sr. started his playing career with the Avon Grove Little League. He made the all-star team as a third baseman. He hit his first home run as a nine-year-old, and belted four as a ten-year-old and five more as an 11-year-old. As he advanced through Little League, his team won 30 straight games over two seasons at one point. He had 45 hits, including 18 homers, and 61 RBIs, and won nine games as a starting pitcher in his team's undefeated season.
Greene attended Avon Grove High School and made the varsity baseball, soccer, and basketball teams. In his first at-bat in high school, he hit a three-run homer. He finished his freshman season with a .353 batting average and was 17-for-17 in stolen base attempts. From 1981 to 1984, he was a First Team All-League baseball player. The 1983 team won the district championship. Greene was also listed in the Who's Who in American Baseball. He later played shortstop for Lincoln University, where he hit .511 and earned the NAIA Silver Slugger Award, and Cecil College, where he hit .412. He earned tryouts with the Pirates, Royals, Yankees, Tigers, Astros, Reds, and Phillies.
Greene started playing in the West Chester Adult League with his brothers, before moving on to a team in Centre County. His teams have won seven championships, and he has picked up five MVP awards. He coached the freshman baseball program at Cheltenham High School for three years. He lives in Bellefonte, Pa. and is a food service technician at Penn State University. He said that his most memorable moment in baseball came in 2008 when he played alongside his son for the first time and they hit back-to-back home runs.
John Kochmansky is the head baseball coach of East Stroudsburg University. After a distinguished high school career, Kochmansky graduated from the University of Delaware in 1988. He was team MVP in 1988 and was also a first-team all-conference selection. He was a career .368 hitter at the University of Delaware and had 224 career hits, earning him a spot on the prestigious 200-hit club.
Kochmansky went on to coach at East Stroudsburg University, where he has compiled a 192-145-1 record (.570 winning percentage) over 7 seasons. Under his direction, the East Stroudsburg University baseball squad has an impressive list of accomplishments. In 2013, his team won the PSAC Championship for the first time since 1971. The squad also earned berths in the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and 2013, and placed third in the Atlantic Region in 2011. That same year, the team had its first national ranking in school history. The team won 11 straight games in 2010, had its longest undefeated start at 10-0 in 2011, and won a school record 34 games in 2013.
David Levan, Jr., a resident of Coatesville, didn't start playing organized baseball until he was 13, but he was still able to earn a full athletic scholarship to Temple University for baseball by the time he graduated from high school. Levan has played baseball each summer since he started in 1978.
He played high school baseball at Coatesville and American Legion ball with the Caln team. At Temple University, he started out as an outfielder, but became a pitcher in his sophomore year. He played in the West Chester Adult League and the Coatesville Twilight League. He earned the Most Valuable Player Award with the West Chester Adult League in 1991, and the Most Valuable Pitcher Award in Coatesville in 2010. Levan has also played in the Kennett Over-30 League, the Delco League, and the Tri-State Over-50 League. He owns a wholesale plant nursery in the Coatesville area.
Padric G. “Paddy” Miller, a resident of Toughkenamon, started playing baseball with the Kaolin St. Patrick's Little League at the age of five. He was named an all-star three times before starting to play in Kennett's Babe Ruth League, where he was also an all-star three times. At Kennett High School, Miller played for manager Tim Skiles, who is a Kennett Old Timers Baseball hall of famer. Miller was the team captain his senior year for a squad that won the league title. That same year, Miller played for another hall of famer, Crow Mattson.
Miller went on to play for several senior softball or baseball leagues in the area. He started in the Kennett Sam Tavoni Softball League, where his team won numerous championships over the course of two decades. He later played for several traveling tournament softball teams, playing everywhere from Port Chester, New York to Fort Lauderdale. He also had the honor of playing in the Roberto Clemente League, where each team is only permitted to carry two non-Latino players. His team won the league title three times.
Miller started playing baseball again around the age of 33. He joined the Kennett Men's Senior Baseball League, where he was an all-league selection. He also played with the Pitman Sox of the Coatesville Adult League.
He briefly stopped playing baseball, but was called out of “retirement” to play for the Oxford Modified League, where his team won the league championship two years in a row and finished as a semifinalist in the Pennsylvania State Championship.
Miller briefly retired again, but came out of retirement to play for the Tri-State team in the Men's Senior Baseball League, where he plays alongside many of his Pitman Sox and Kennett Blue Rocks teammates. He was a member of the team that enjoyed a victory in the 2014 MSBL Fall Classic National Tournament.
Paul Sergi, a resident of Middletown, Del., started playing baseball for the KAU Little League and also starred in the Babe Ruth League. Although soccer is his first love—he has played in leagues year-round, he also played baseball for Elizabethtown College. He was a center fielder and first baseman in local Men's Senior Baseball Leagues, and also played in a Delaware semi-pro league.
Sergi works as a district manager for a major food service company in the Washington, D.C. area for the past 27 years.
Doug Stirling is well known in the Kennett Square area as a pastor at the Bible Evangelical Church of Kennett Square, a radio host on the WCHE Morning Magazine, and as a public servant—he currently serves on the Kennett School Board. But he also had a distinguished career on the baseball diamond. From 1967 to 1969, he played on the Kennett Community League. From 1970 to 1972, he played for KAU Little League, where his team won the league championship twice. Stirling was a first baseman and pitcher. He set a single-game record with nine RBIs, and also tossed his team's first no-hitter.
In 1973 and 1974, he played as a pitcher and left fielder on the Babe Ruth League team. Stirling was a two-time all-star, and was also selected as an Athlete of the Year by the National Advisory Board of Babe Ruth Baseball, with recognition at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. As a player on the Kennett High School team from 1974 to 1977, Stirling hit .405 as a shortstop. He played second base with an American Legion team and in 1978 he joined the Coatesville Men's Twilight League as a third baseman. He played for the West Chester Adult Baseball League a year later.
Stirling played for various corporate and church softball teams between 1981 and 1996. He also played for the Tulsa Senior Men's Baseball League between 1989 and 1996, where he was a three-time all-star and the all-time league leader in home runs. He started playing for the Kennett Senior Men's Baseball League in 1997, and in 2014 he joined the Tri-State Senior Baseball League's Kennett Cutters, where he plays second base and third base.
Tickets for the event are $35 and can be purchased at Burton's Barber Shop (105 W. State St. in Kennett Square) or by calling 610-444-9964. The evening includes a buffet dinner, a silent auction of baseball memorabilia and other items donated by local businesses, and a raffle.