Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association inducts eight new members to its Hall of Fame
● By Steven Hoffman
On Saturday, at the 40th banquet of the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association, eight new names were added to the list of local players who have been selected for the organization’s Hall of Fame because they excelled in the game during high school and beyond.
After a buffet dinner and social hour at the Kennett Fire Company Red Clay Room, Corey Anderson, Curtis Glasco, Bob Gottschall, Todd Haines, Steve Hands, Scott Hoffman, Steven Lam and Mark Unruh were presented with plaques signifying their membership in the prestigious group by Master of Ceremonies Doug Sterling, himself a 2015 member of the Hall of Fame.
Through the years, more than 300 players have been honored as hall of famers and their names are inscribed on plaques which are displayed at Burton’s Barber Shop on State Street in Kennett Square. Among those who have been named are some who made it into the minor leagues, a host of local coaches, and a large percentage of the local Grey Sox team that featured black players.
The induction ceremony is traditionally held in mid-January, and through the years has held up its head through snow, sleet, rain and ice. This year’s event stood up to a miserable mix of freezing rain, snow and wet rain.
In the early hours before guests were to arrive, Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association President Bob Burton wondered out loud how the conditions on the roads would affect attendance. He feared many would decide against braving the trip.
His fears were for naught, however, as virtually all of the tables were full with eight or so guests at each.
Many of the guests echoed what former Kennett High School Baseball Coach Tim Skiles explained. He said he heard the weather report and had almost decided to stay home. Then he told himself that there would probably be a lot of his old friends there, and he set out – successfully – for the banquet.
Indeed, there were few, if any, no-shows. They all came, as they have in previous years, with the anticipation of spring training but a month away.
By the end of the evening, the snow and sleet had turned to rain, and there were no weather-related incidents reported.
Also honored at the banquet was Prissy Roberts, a 52-year resident of Kennett Square who has been working with Burton on the banquet since 1999. She first volunteered to help out with the banquet after seeing all the memorabilia and local baseball history on the walls of Burton’s Barber Shop. She has been the backbone of the organization, gathering inductee information, overseeing the details of the banquet, gathering raffle donations, and handling the public relations.
Burton said she is that and much more.
When the annual event was starting to falter in 1994, she led others in resurrecting it, and it has been a major Kennett Square event ever since. Each year, the banquet attracts more than 200 and often 300 guests.
Each year, a guest speaker of note addresses the audience. Many of them have been Philadelphia Phillies players, coaches, or announcers. Guest speakers have included Richie Ashburn, Dick Allen, Mickey Morandini and Charlie Manuel.
This year’s speaker was former Phillies relief pitcher Dickie Noles. He played for the Phillies in 1980, and helped them win their first World Series that year. Noles now works in public relations for the Phillies, but in his years of service he has also been an advocate for addressing alcoholism. Noles said he has been in recovery since 1983.
Noles also told his audience that he is pleased to be a frequent visitor to southern Chester County, and he plays golf at the local courses.
He said he has been especially inspired by his work with the Sunshine Foundation, which entertains and is involved with children who face serious health challenges.
It has taught him, he said, “If we live life abundantly, it’s a success.”
When he was asked about how he thinks the Phillies will do in 2020, he said, “We need pitching, but there are good pitchers in the minors.”
He was also asked what advice he had for young people hoping to enter baseball in their adulthood.
He said he is concerned that young pitchers are pushed from an early age to throw harder and harder. Ultimately, they hurt their shoulders. He said they should not be centering on one skill, and he blames statisticians for evaluating pitchers solely on the speed of their fastballs.
The Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association was created in 1974 through the efforts of Howard Lynn, Bat Burton, Donald McKay, Donnie Davenport, Lou Mandich, John Moynihan, Gordon Farquhar and Joe Husband. The Philadelphia Phillies have supported the 40 banquets with well-known speakers through the years. Burton’s Barber Shop is the home of the association, where pictures and plaques of baseball memorabilia are always on display.