Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Baseball in Euclid in the 1950s and 1960s

Though I was born in Willoughby, I grew up in Euclid, Ohio--from age 3 until I left home and moved to Cincinnati at age 22. Euclid was a sports-crazed town--at least that was my perspective on it. And I was baseball crazy. Beginning around 1957 I spent my summer days playing baseball at the local playground, which everyone called "Mudville"--later to be officially called "Willow Playground." Mudville was down Farringdon Avenue at E.272nd Street, about a quarter mile away. I always ran to and from my house to Mudville, passing the homes of many playmates and fellow ballplayers. Moving down Farringdon, there were the homes of Buster and Kenny Zylowski, Chuckie Lintern, Bernard and Paul Dembek, Clay Lutsch, Frankie Andrulis, Mike Sikora, and Pat Mueller.

Mike Sikora became a well-known realtor in Mentor. Buster moved out to the state of Washington, Kenny to Florida, and I don't know about the rest. Mike Sikora was older than us, maybe 4 years I would guess. I have one hilarious memory of him getting bopped on the head by a high fly ball. The ball hit him square on the top of his head and bounced straight up, higher than the telephone wires. I also remember Mike playing in the local softball league--a ferociously competitive league usually dominated by the guys from Gary Avenue.

While watching the baseball playoffs these past few weeks I thought of Bernard Dembek. Bernard was also a few years older than us, but I did play ball with him. He had a straight overhand pitch and he could throw very hard. Bernard did not give up many hits. His arm motion was unique and scared hitters half to death. His brother Paul didn't pitch as often, as I remember, and didn't have that straight overhand motion (but, if I remember correctly, Big Paul could hit the ball a mile).

One of the greatest players on Farringdon was Clay Lutsch. He usually played shortstop and was a tremendous fielder and hitter. He had a buddy who lived on Shirley Avenue, David Kaprosy, who also was a terrific baseball player--good hands, strong arm, good hitter. Dave Kaprosy had hands twice as big as my own. I believe he is now a lawyer somewhere around Moreland Hills. So many successful people came out of this humble Euclid neighborhood!

Frankie Andrulis lived across the street from Clay. He was a couple years younger than us, but also a good ballplayer. He was tall and thin, and had an older brother even taller. Even his sister was tall; they were all good athletes.

At the very end of Farringdon lived Patrick Mueller. Talk about tall--I think Pat ended up being the drum major for Ohio State's band. I played baseball with Pat for many years and went to high school with him. I believe his father was a Cleveland detective. No idea where Pat is today.

These were some of the ballplayers that lived on Farringdon. Each street had a gang of ballplayers--Zeman Ave., Shirley Ave., Drakefield, Gary, Biardale. Many names come to mind: Jay Niedermeyer, Jim Allsip, Gary Czyzynski, Dale Kovatch, my brother Denny, Frank Calabro, John George and his brothers, the Lynch boys, Tony Severino (maybe the greatest athlete of all of them), Gary King. Wish all the names would come to me!


Richard Hoinski said...

Just came across this. I lived on Elinore, the second house past the Forest Park Fence. Played ball with many of those you mentioned. Tom Severino was good in his own right, though clearly not as good as big brother Tony, who I once saw hit a ball from the diamond at Upson to the roof of the school. The playground teams I played on were Smith's Restaurant, City Title and the Charter House. We won the playground championship two out of three years. I went on to play Pony League for the Euclid team went to the World Series in National City (San Diego) in 1965, although we were eliminated in the first two games. Good memories. Richard (Rick) Hoinski, 26370 Elinore Ave. Now living in San Jose, CA.

View from the North Coast said...

I remember you, Rich. Thanks for your contribution here. Did you know Tony Severino went on to become the greatest high school coach in Missouri history? He coaches for Rockhurst, a Jesuit high school (try to google this). Did you go to St. Joe's or Euclid? Did you know Ron Valenti, who also lived on Elinore? Take Care, Bob Coughlin.