Eight players to be inducted into the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Hall of Fame
By Steven Hoffman
Each January, the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association honors players who have shined on the baseball diamond, and recognizes the contributions of managers or league administrators whose work has made a positive impact on the history-rich local baseball community. There are currently 264 local players who have been enshrined in the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association's Hall of Fame, and on Saturday, Jan. 16, eight more men will receive the honor when the 36th annual induction ceremony takes place at 6 p.m. at the Red Clay Room in Kennett Square. This year’s inductees include Bill Beirne, Jack Bradley, George Hadfield, Lawrence “Mickey” Hess, Jerry Johnson, Rick Marvin, Dennis Petrucci, and Jim Wagner.
One highlight of this year’s event will be the guest speaker, Chris Wheeler, who spent 37 years as part of the Philadelphia Phillies broadcasting team. Wheeler began his radio and television career in 1977 and continued in that role through the 2013 season, serving as both a play-by-play and color analyst during that time. He was also part of the team’s traveling party, and did not miss a Phillies’ road trip during his 37 years in that role.
Wheeler also served as the director of the team’s first Community Relations Department and was later the director of its Speakers’ Bureau. Another duty was serving as the camp coordinator for the Phillies Dream Week each year from 1983 to 1999.
A Philadelphia-area native, Wheeler grew up in Newtown Square, Pa., and graduated from Marple-Newtown High School in 1963. After graduating from Penn State University in 1967 with a BA degree in journalism and broadcasting, Wheeler worked for WCAU Radio in Philadelphia, WBBM Radio in Chicago, and CBS Radio in New York before joining the Phillies. Wheeler now serves as a club ambassador for the Phillies, working in a number of different roles to promote the club. He authored a book, “A View from the Booth: Four Decades with the Phillies,” in 2009, chronicling his long association with the Phillies.
The banquet always attracts a large group of baseball fans, and the question-and-answer session with the guest speaker is always a highlight. That will certainly be the case with Wheeler, who will have many stories to share with attendees.
Each of the new inductees will enjoy a few moments in the spotlight during the banquet as their accomplishments in baseball are celebrated.
Beirne, a resident of Wilmington, Del., was a coach and manager for the KAU Little League for 12 years. He was also a KAU board member for two years. He grew up playing Little League and Pony League baseball in Stratford, New Jersey. He also played at Sterling Regional High School. His baseball-playing experiences as an adult include playing for the Milltown Mudhens in 1999. From 2000 to 2012, he was a player, manager, and general manager for the Shear Satisfaction Cutters in the 50-and-over John A. DeBenedictis Baseball League. In 2013, he moved on to the 55-and-over Kennett Cutters team. He was a League Honor Roll inductee in 2007, and the league secretary from 2006 to 2007.
Beirne’s teams won the B Division Championships in 2012 and 2013, and the Father/Son Tournament Championship in 2013, and he was Manager of the Year in 2013. The Shear Satisfaction Cutters played in the MSBL World Series in Phoenix, AZ. The Philadelphia Cutters played in the Roy Hobbs World Series from 2005 through 2015. Beirne was also part of the Shields ATM team that won the AA Championship in 2011.
Hadfield, who works as a special education teacher in the Octorara Area School District, was selected for induction after coaching baseball for 33 years. He coached Bishop Shanahan’s baseball team from 1982 to 2007 and the Octorara High School’s team from 2008 to 2014.
Hadfield started playing baseball at the age of six when he played for the Wissinoming Boys League. He was a varsity catcher on Northeast Catholic’s baseball team in 1970 and 1971. The team played at Connie Mack Stadium for the Catholic League Championship in 1970. Hadfield went on to play for Keystone Junior College in 1973 and 1974. He started every game during those two seasons, and was the team captain in 1974. He was invited to a tryout for the Pittsburgh Pirates at West Chester University in 1974.
In addition to his baseball coaching, Hadfield played in several adult baseball leagues, including the Fairmount Park Adult Baseball League, the West Chester Adult Baseball League, the Kennett Men's Senior Baseball League, and the John A. DeBenedictis Baseball League.
One of Jim Wagner's more memorable seasons in a baseball uniform came when he was 12 years old. His team that year, the Meadow Pride Dairy, went 16-0. In one game, Wagner belted four home runs. The best game that he ever pitched also came that season—Wagner punched out 18 batters as he pitched six perfect innings of baseball.
Wagner went on to play in the Pony League and Junior League in the State College, Pa. area. He played third base and pitched at State College High School, and then moved on to Villanova University, where he was also a pitcher. After he got married, Wagner moved to Chester County and played in the West Chester Adult League for about 15 years. He is a member of the West Chester Adult League Hall of Fame, and was named as the Most Valuable Player of the League in 1972.
Jack Bradley, a resident of Downingtown, grew up playing Little League ball for the Horsham Little League. He was a third baseman at Hatboro Horsham High School, and he was on the team that captured a Pennsylvania State Championship in 1977.
Bradley went on to play football and baseball at Moravian College. He was the school’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1981. He also was the football team’s MVP and won the Maxwell Award in football that same year. On the baseball diamond, Bradley helped the Moravian team capture the MAC Southern Division title in 1981. Bradley was second in the nation in stolen bases for players at Division 3 schools. He set Moravian College records for hits in a season, runs scored in a season, home runs in a season, and stolen bases in a season. Bradley also holds school football records for career yardage, completions in a game, and passing yardage in a game.
He went on to play in the Perkiomen Twilight League from 1981 to 1993. The team won a championship in 1990. From 1993 to 2008, Bradley played in the Coatesville Adult Baseball League, and his teams won numerous championships.
He also played in the Kennett MSBL from 1998 to 2004, where his teams also won several championships. Bradley was selected as MVP of the league in 1999. He also played in the Tri-State 48-and-over MSBL squad that won championships in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Lawrence “Mickey” Hess, a longtime science teacher at Oxford Area High School, grew up playing ball in the Lancaster Little League. He was a pitcher and outfielder for the Penn Manor High School team. He also played for the Millersville Legion squad. He was a catcher and outfielder at Millersville University, and he earned an invitation to a tryout with the Toronto Blue Jays in Syracuse, NY in 1980.
Hess earned the nickname “Stingray” while playing with the Millersville University team in 1977. During a southern road trip, Hess stepped on a stingray in the Gulf of Mexico. He needed surgery to recover, and for the next four years he was known as “Stingray” to his teammates.
After college, Hess went on to play in the Lancaster-Lebanon Twilight League, the York Central League, the West Chester Adult League, and the Kennett Men’s Senior Baseball League.
Jerry Johnson was born and raised in Kennett Square. He began playing baseball at the age of seven for the Kennett Little League. He moved on to play for the Teeners Club, and was primarily a pitcher and catcher during his early years playing the game.
Johnson later played for the Counts Social Club and the Sam Tavoni League, where he was a third baseman, first baseman, and catcher for the National Bank and the Catena teams.
Rick Marvin, now a resident of North Eastham, MA, grew up playing in the Unionville Farm League and the KAU Little League. He was a standout player for the Tower Hill School, where he earned MVP or Co-MVP honors. Marvin coached teams in several different sports, including soccer and basketball, and coached baseball clubs of Cape Cod for 15 years.
Dennis Petrucci, a resident of Avondale, grew up playing in the Kennett Recreation League on the current site of the Mary D. Lang School. He was a two-time all-star selection in the St. Patrick’s Pee Wee League. He played baseball in the Kennett Babe Ruth League between the ages of 13 and 15. He graduated from Kennett High School in 1975.
Petrucci went on to play for 14 seasons in the Sam Tavoni League. He was an all-star selection in 1979 and 1980, and was the all-star MVP in 1980. He also played in the Kennett Men’s Senior Baseball League for 12 seasons. He was a pitcher, first baseman, third baseman, outfielder, and catcher. He once pitched and won both ends of a double-header.
Petrucci has also coached baseball in the KAU and Avon Grove Little Leagues, he has managed the Avon Grove American Legion team, and served as a baseball umpire for 15 years.
The Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association will be handing out Special Recognition Awards for the first time. These awards are being presented to Michael Robinson for outstanding baseball coaching and to Joseph Scalise for his service to the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association Hall of Fame.
Tickets for the banquet are $36 per person, which includes a buffet dinner, a raffle of baseball memorabilia, and other prizes. Tickets can be purchased at Burton’s Barber Shop, which is the unofficial home of the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Hall of Fame, or by calling 610-444-9964.