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Chester County Press

Old Timers Baseball Banquet cancelled for 2024

11/29/2023 11:41AM ● By Chris Barber

Lack of support and the absence of a speaker have prompted Bob Burton to cancel the 2024 Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association Hall of Fame banquet.

Burton, the longtime Kennett Square barber shop owner and operator, has presided over the banquet since 1999.

The Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association was created in 1974 through the efforts of Howard Lynn, Bat Burton (Bob’s father), Donald McKay, Donnie Davenport, Lou Manfredi, John Moynihan, Gordon Farquhar and Joe Husband. The association honors local, living baseball players who have achieved success beyond high school in summer leagues and college at the annual banquet.

The barber shop on State Street has long been seen as a museum and shrine to the Phillies and baseball in general. It has a history that goes back to visits by baseball legends Babe Ruth, Herb Pennock and Dallas Greene. The walls are loaded with historical pictures, autographs and memorabilia.

The banquet is held every January, usually in the third week. Planning for the next event hit snags that couldn’t be overcome.

“It’s not an Old Timers banquet without a speaker,” Burton said.

Through the years, the banquet has received the loyalty of many old high school athletes, even those who competed against each other on their school teams but became friends in their adulthood, especially at the annual banquet.

Burton has attracted many famous sports figures to the event in his time including Charlie Manuel, Mickey Morandini, Richie Ashburn. Dick Allen and Dick Vermeil, among others. Lately, he said, he has lost direct contact with the Phillies, and many other potential speakers were unable to come for the 2024 event.

Burton said he has also experienced a recent drop in attendance at the dinners.

“I used to get about 350 or 400. Recently it’s 150 or 200,” Burton said.

He added that he is surprised that people who had already been honored do not return to future banquets. “And the old ones have died off,” he said.

Undeterred, however, Burton has initiated another project to keep his contribution to the community active. He is starting an annual $1500 scholarship designated for an outstanding baseball player who will be honored at the Kennett graduation ceremony.

“It’s not just all baseball skills either. The recipient has to show character and community service,” Burton said.

He also said that although it is too late to revive the banquet for the coming season, he is eager to bring it back for 2025.

“I already have the Red Clay Room reserved. You have to get the reservations in early. I think it will come back,” he said.

Burton said he is not upset or depressed about the cancellation, but he would like to see more honorees return in the future.