Phillies’ Bowa headlines Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association banquet01/04/2022 01:27PM ● By Steven Hoffman
When the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association holds its annual banquet on Saturday, Jan. 15, there will be plenty for baseball fans of all ages to enjoy. Larry Bowa, who spent 29 years in a Phillies uniform as a player, coach, or manager, is the guest speaker for the organization’s 41st banquet. Six local players who were standouts on the baseball diamond during their playing days are being inducted into the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Hall of Fame. There will also be door prizes and a silent auction of baseball memorabilia. And lots and lots of baseball talk, of course.
The banquet takes place at 6 p.m. in the Red Clay Room of the Kennett Square Fire Company. Tickets for the banquet and dinner are $45, and can be purchased at Burton’s Barber Shop on State Street in Kennett Square.
Bowa, the shortstop on the Philadelphia Phillies 1980 World Series championship team, who still serves a senior advisor for the franchise, will return to this event as a special guest speaker. Bowa will share stories and insights from his incredible baseball life, which spans more than 50 years. He has spent more time in a Phillies’ uniform—29 years—than anyone else in the franchise’s 139-year history. His tenure with the Phillies includes 12 years as a player, four years as a manager, and another 13 years as a coach. Bowa was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1991.
The six inductees into the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association Hall of Fame—Jason Troilo, Jeff Wenrich, Joseph Sexton, Jeff Crittenden, Tony Brown and Jeff Riccardo—all had notable achievements on the baseball field, and they will be celebrated during the evening.
Sexton, a resident of Kennett Square, grew up playing baseball for a team in Landenberg before he spent two years playing on a KAU Little League squad. He went on to be a pitcher and a shortstop for the Kennett High School team, playing under coach Nate Kendig, who had an enormous impact on baseball players in this area.
After high school, Sexton played in the Hockessin Adult Hardball League. He also later managed and coached in the KAU Little League and Kaolin Little League. Sexton worked for the NVF Company and for Ajilent Technologies. While at NVF, he was responsible for having the NVF Field built.
Crittenden played for the Kennett Rec League and then the KAU Little League while growing up. He played Babe Ruth League baseball and then moved on to play for the Unionville High School baseball team.
Crittenden achieved a great deal of success playing college ball at Brandywine University and then Millersville University. He was a third baseman and pitcher. He was an MVP during his sophomore year at Brandywine University and won a batting title for Millersville University.
He also played for three years in the West Chester Adult League, where he won a championship and a home run title. He also received an invitation to try out for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Wenrich grew up playing soccer and basketball, but by the time he reached high school he decided to focus on baseball. He was an outfielder and a pitcher while playing high school ball at Avon Grove High School. He also played for one season on the Unionville American Legion team. He went to the NAIA College World Series in Iowa in 1994 and 1995 as a member of the team from Wilmington College (now Wilmington University).
While he was still in college, his father built a regulation pitcher’s mound in the backyard. He certainly didn’t waste the extra practice time that the mound made possible. He earned numerous awards while playing baseball. He was the NAIA Northeast Region Player of the Year in 1994, and a NAIA First Team All American selection in 1994. The next year, he was an NAIA Honorable Mention All American selection. He was also inducted in the Wilmington University Hall of Fame in 2011.
James Anthony “Tony” Brown played in the KAU Little League for the Rotary in the minors before moving up to the Optimist team in the majors. He played one year in the Babe Ruth League, which turned out to be the last year it existed in Kennett—the following year KAU started the Senior League for ages 13 to 15, where he played two more years for the Optimist team.
Brown went on to play for respected baseball coach Tim Skiles at Kennett High School where he was the First Team All-SCCL selection at second base as a sophomore. He received the same honor for the next two years while playing shortstop. Brown played one year with the Kennett Legion team as a sophomore, and then he moved on to play shortstop with the Cecil Johnnies in the Maryland Semi-Pro League out of North East, Maryland from 1989 to 1994. He was part of the Cecil Johnnies team that played in the famed Labor Day York Colonial Tournament in 1990 that finished runner-up out of 42 teams. He was awarded the “Dutch Dorman Award” for being the most outstanding young player in the tournament.
Brown was chosen for to play in the Keystone State Games in both his junior and senior years, and was able to win a gold medal as a senior. Additionally, he participated in the Carpenter Cup games at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in his senior year.
Brown was recruited to play at Troy State University in Troy, Alabama. He played mostly second base for his four years at the college. Troy State competed at the Division II level his freshman and sophomore years, and they played in the Division II World Series in 1993, finishing second in the country behind the University of Tampa, which won the national championship. Troy State moved on to full Division I status the following year. In 1995, they won the Mid-Continental Conference, and then advanced to a play-in series against Wright State. Troy State swept the best-of-three series, while Tony was named the series MVP after going 6-for-9 with one home run, one double, four singles, two runs scored and ten RBIs in two games. Troy State then advanced to its first-ever Division I Regional Tournament in school history where they were eventually eliminated by losses to Florida State and Ole Miss.
Jason Troilo grew up in Avondale and he and his brother, Joe, loved baseball. Jason’s youth baseball experience started with the KAPRB and then KAU Little League. He played three years of varsity baseball as a catcher at Kennett High School under coach Tim Skiles. He also ran cross country and played basketball while at Kennett. He graduated from Kennett High School in 1990 and then from James Madison University in 1994. While at James Madison University, he played at the Division I level and competed in the Colonial Athletic Association. After a very successful senior season, which was highlighted by an ABCA All-American selection, he was offered a contract by the New York Yankees. His professional playing career included five years in the Yankees organization with experience at the Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A levels. He played catcher throughout his entire high school, college and professional career. His brother, Joe Troilo, was a 1996 graduate of Kennett High School and went on to play in the Boston Red Sox organization.
Now that he is entering the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association Hall of Fame, he is the third generation of his family to receive the honor, joining his grandfather, Gerard “Bib” Troilo and his father, Joe Troilo.
The Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association will be presenting a Special Recognition Award to Dr. Charles Garris, who was a baseball coach from 1963 to 1994. Dr. Garris began coaching Little League in 1963 and 1964, Senior Little League in 1965, and then the Pony League in 1966 and 1967. He went on to coach Little League and Senior Little League with his brother, Cliff, in Freeport, Pa. from 1967 until 1973. After moving to Coatseville, in 1980 through 1987, he coached in the Caln Little League and Caln Senior Little League. Dr Garris coached one year for the Caln American Legion team and, after moving to Kennett Square, he managed the Kennett American Legion team for several years.
Three of this year’s inductees played for Dr Garris on Kennett’s American Legion team.
The Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association was established in 1974 to preserve the baseball legacy in Kennett Square and the greater Southern Chester County by a group that included Howard Lynn, Bat Burton, Donald McKay, Donnie Davenport, Lou Manfredi, John Moynihan, Gordon Farquhar and Joe Husband. The organization has continued under the direction of longtime president Bob Burton.