History of Connie Mack

 

connie mack stadium 1960

HISTORY  OF  PROGRAM

During the year 1949 , George Bellis , Director of Legion Activities , proposed the idea of a Knee-Hi baseball program for the youngsters from 12 to 15 inclusive. The Activities Committee of the Legion and its Chairman , Milt Moore , adopted the idea enthusiastically , and although the number of teams was small , Lancaster defeated Doylestown at Shibe Park for the first State Championship.

The year 1950 saw tremendous increase in the program of teams and proved that Knee-Hi was here to stay. Eight championship teams played a one day tournament at Allentown and Newmanstown was crowned State Champion.

In 1951 , the growth of the program continued at a phenomenal pace , and this year the enthusiastic group of men composed of members of the Albert R. Atkinson , Jr. Post 210 and the service Clubs of Doylestown took over the State Championship . An eight team tournament spread out over a three day period resulted in Coplay becoming the new monarch of Knee-Hi baseball.

In 1952 and 1953 the program continued to increase by leaps and bounds , and the State Championships , now well established in Doylestown at the National Agricultural College , were classics , as Beaver abd Pottstown won in that order.

The 1954 tournament was the most extensive of the group  , as twelve fine ball-clubs came to the championships , and the first repeat champion was crowned in the person of Pottstown.

The year 1955 saw a tremendous increase in the number of teams organized throughout the State , Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties led in the number of teams organized. Again twelve teams representing their respective sections came to Doylestown for the final championship games and a new champion was crowned Norristown Brick Co.  team winning the 1955 Championship Flag. It is the earnest hope of Connie Mack Youth Program Inc. that more organizations than ever become interested in promoting fine citizens for the America of tomorrow by sponsoring their participation in this non-profit competition.

Connie Mack Baseball continued to grow in 1956 and the committee is planning an All-Out effort to increase the number of teams in this Program , for 1957.

Eight championship teams came to Beaver Falls , Pa. representing their respective sections and were housed in the beautiful dormitories of Geneva College . After three days of World Series Play , local No. 1082 , C.I.O. , U.S.S.A., representing Beaver Falls defeated Coplay to become the 1956 Champions.

1957 saw a tremendous increase in the interest in this program . The citizens of Coplay , Pa. and their committee headed by George Miller , did a splendid job in sponsoring the Tournament. Eight teams participated in the first two-game-and-out Tournament . Going into the final day of play , the Coplay Knee-Hi team was undefeated and East Norriton Lions’ Club of Norristown had lost one game . In the most thrilling games in the history of the program East Norriton defeated Coplay , therefore necessitating the playing of  a second game . The Coplay Team came through and won their second State Championship under the splendid coaching of Sammy Balliet. The Final championship game had the largest attendance in the history of Knee-Hi with over 2,000 attending the game.

The 1958 tournament was sponsored by the Lions Clubs of Harleysville  , Souderton , and  Telford. their committee did a tremendous job . Eight teams were housed at the Perkiomen School for Boys at Pennsburg and the games were played on the diamonds at Harleysville , Souderton and Perkasie with the Final Championship Games being played under World Series conditions on the Harleysville diamond . The defending champion of the 1957 went down to defeat at the hands of a great team representing Steelton Pa.

Connie Mack Baseball in 1959 continued to grow throughout Pennsylvania , especially in the Ford City , Kittanning and Harrisburg Areas . The Committee in Bucks-Montgomery Counties , under the leadership of Charles Gray of Norristown , had the largest enrollment of teams for their fifth consecutive year.

The 1959 Championship Games were sponsored by the Harleysville and Telford Lions’ Clubs . We are indeed indebted to these two fine Lions’ organizations for the splendid job they did in the promotion and conduct of the Tournament that was again played in Harleysville , Pa. with the following Sectional Champions participating in the program : Norristown , Schuylkill , Doylestown , East Norristown , St. Dennis of Havertown , Kittanning , Erie and Steelton . The final championship game was scheduled between Erie and Steelton but , due to inclement weather , the game had to be postponed one week with Erie and Steelton returning home and then making the trip back to Harleysville to play the final game . Steelton , the Champions of the 1958 , under the splendid leadership of John Hoover  , again were crowned Champions in 1959.

The 1960 Tournament was awarded to the Harleysville Lions’ club and the Championship Games were played in  Harleysville , Pa. , on August 3 , 4 , 5 and 6 , 1960 . For the second consecutive year Erie crossed bats with Steelton and under the fine coaching of John Hoover , Steelton won the Championship . Steelton established a new record in Connie Mack Baseball by wining their third consecutive State Title.

The sportsmanship displayed by the players , coaches and managers of the teams that participated was of the very best and may we congratulate all of them.

The Harleysville Lions’ Club  in 1960 took on the responsibility of sponsoring the Tournament on their own and did a tremendous job. Our thanks and appreciation to  their Tournament Director Don Eschbach , the members of his committee , and the members of the Harleysville Lions’ Club.

We would be amiss if we failed to say thank you to Mr. Stephen W. Roberts , Headmaster of Perkiomen School for the fine cooperation they give to our Connie Mack Program  each year.

1961 saw a tremendous increase of 128 teams enrolled over the previous years in the Connie Mack Program bringing eight of the very finest to the 1961 Tournament that again was sponsored by the Harleysville Lion’s Club.

Games were played at the Pennsburg and Harleysville with the Championship series finding Steelton back in the finals but losing out to an excellent team representing Northern Chester County Judges of Pottstoen , Pa. , under the fine coaching of Mr. William Scherfel , Jr.

The Tournament for 1962 is agaike in being sponsored by the Harleysville Lions Club and the dates are as follows : August 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 and 11 , 1962

The 1962 Tournament was honored in having Connie Mack , Jr. of Fort Meyers , Florida , attend the games along with Past Department Commander George F. Bruno of the American Legion , Mr. Ike White , Lions District Governor  , and “Til” Houseman , Lions Club International Counsel .

The following teams participated in the Final Championships  , Pottstown , Quakertown , Kiwanis Knee-Hi , Doylestown ; Westgate Hills , Havertown ; Apollo 408 ; Allen Supply Colts , Altoona ; Emmaus Youth Association , Emmaus , and Clarion 66 of Clarion , Pa.

Games were played in World Series style and at the Conclusion Quakertown  was crowned the 1962 Champion by defeating Westgate Hills of Havertown by a score 2 to 1.

We are indeed grateful to Mr. Stephen W. Roberts , Headmaster of Perkiomen School for their continued co-operation in housing the many visiting teams during the Tournament as well as their fine playing facilities.

The 1963 Connie Mack Baseball Championship Games  , co-sponsored with the American Legion Department of Pennsylvania Activities Committee and the Harleysville Lions’ Club were played on the Harleysville Community Center Baseball Fields. This year the teams had the opportunity of playing on a newly completed Connie Mack Field as well as the Community Center  Field , thereby curtailing the amount of travel between games . In fact you could sit in the grandstands and witness two games going on at the same time.

We would be amiss if we failed to report the conduct of the teams and managers , coaches and players was the highest caliber . May we congratulate the team manager’s and coaches for the excellent manner in which the cooperated with the Tournament Committee ? Our Congratulations to the players for the fine sportsmanship displayed throughout the entire Tournament.

Northampton , the Lehigh Valley Champion , was the only undefeated team in the Tournament up until Saturday , August 10th  , when they met the Pennridge team of Perkasie and was defeated by a score of 8 to 4. This necessitated playing on Sunday , August 11th  ,in on of the finest Championship games ever played in the history of this Tournament. The Pennridge scored a run in the first inning and from there on a real pitchers’ battle developed . Jack Detweiler , pitcher for Pennridge , put on a great exhibition of the Championship pitching be allowing only one hit and winning 1 to 0 . Not only was Jack aa fine pitcher but  terrific  at bat , getting 12 hits for 25. He also won three games with a hit during the Tournament.

Bruce Constanzer  , a great little shortstop for Pennridge  , along with Jack Detweiler , received the Most Valuable Players award. Bruce had 9 hits for 20 at bats  , three of which were three-base hits amd made spectacular plays throughout the Tournament.

1964 found the Tournament Committee setting up a new procedure in the method of eliminations wherein they brought eight Eastern and Central Division Teams into Harleysville , Pa. five days prior to the opening of the Final Championships.

At this time they participated in the official dedication on a new Connie Mack Field with Connie Mack’s Son Earl . his Daughter Mrs. Rita Breedlove and Grandson Marshall , Jr. , Ed. Dougherty and James Gallagher , representing the Commissioner’s Office  , John ” Hans ” Lobert  , Bing Miller one of Mr. Mack’s former players , being presented with the Connie Mack Awards while Mr. Ed Pollock former Executive Sports Editor of the Philadelphia Bulletin and better known as the ” OLD GRAD ” received the annual Connie Mack Award for his great contribution in the promotion of sports. Mrs. Pollock , Mae and his daughter and grandson were also in attendance.

After the ceremonies , the Eastern eliminations started with Bethlehem South Side , Fredericksburg , Bethlehem Northeast  , Springfield , Doylestown , Pottstown , Lower Providence-Worcester and Pennridge competing. The following Easter Champions returned to Harleysville , Pa. on Wednesday , August 5th , Springfield , Doylestown ,Pottstown and Lower Providence-Worcester , to cross bats with four Western Teams , Kittaning , Altoona , Vandergrift and Rimersburg.

The final Championship game was played on Saturday August 8th , bringing together for the first time , two Western Teams Altoona and Vandergrift , with Vandergrift being crowned the Champions.  We salute not only the newly crowned Championship Team namely Vandergrift , but also the many fans who came from this far west community to back their youngsters in the tournament. We are indebted to Tom Smith , Sports Editor , The New-Citizen , for the terrific coverage he gave to our Connie Mack Tournament .  In winning the crown , Vandergrift re-wrote every section of the record book . This feat alone had Tournament Officials glowing in amazement.  This year the Tournament was 17 years old and for the first time in its history , a team from Western Pennsylvania had won the title . We salute all of the team mangers , coaches and fans for the excellent sportsmanship displayed as well as all the players.

Again we re indebted to Mr. Stephen W. Roberts , Headmaster of the Perkiomen  School as well as Harleysville Insurance Company where the youngsters were given their breakfast and dinner.

We congratulate the newly crowned Champions and everyone who cooperated with the Tournament Committee.

The 1965 Tournament was a repeat performance in that Harleysville Lions’ Club again did a tremendous job in sponsoring the Tournament.

After a very busy seson of competition the following eight teams arrived in Harleysville on Tuesday , August 3rd : Levittown , Bethlehem , Myerstown , Pottstown , Altoona , Kittanning , Rimersburg and Homer City.

Final Championship Game for the 1965 was played on Saturday August 7th , between Levittown and Kittanning with a wild and woolly game being played on the part of both teams with Levittown finally coming out on top as the New Champion by a score of 12 to 8.

Our sincere  thanks and appreciation to Harleysville Lions’ club the Perkiomen school , Harleysville Mutual Casualty Insurance company and especially on the excellent display of good sportsmanship on the part of all the team managers , coaches and players throughout the Tournament.

Congratulations Champions and we wish you continued success.

We are now looking forward to a bigger and better Tournament this coming season.

The 1966 Tournament was a great performance in that the Harleysville Lions’ Club again did a tremendous job I sponsoring the Tournament.

After a very busy season of competition the following eight teams arrived in Harleysville on Tuesday , August 2nd : Pottstown , Myerstown , Emmaus , Clarion , Altoona , Levittown , Kittanning , Apollo.

The Saturday afternoon game was between Emmaus and Pottstown . Pottstown defeated Emmaus by the score of 4 to 1 , which meant that the same two teams played on Sunday afternoon with Pottstown defeating Emmaus by the score of 10 to 1.

The outstanding player throughout the Tournament was Jim Tsakonas of the Pottstown Team.

The 1967 Tournament brought together the following teams ; Defending Champion Pottstown , Bethlehem , NorGwyn , Northampton , Altoona , Homer City , Jeannette , Kittanning , and Franklin . After Fridays games the two remaining teams were defending champion Pottstown with one defeat and undefeated Northampton . After the dust settled on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Harleysville , Northampton became the new Champion defeating Pottstown by the score of 9 to 4.

The 1968 Tournament brought together Lansdale , Northampton , Philadelphia , Bethlehem , Myerstown , Kitanning , Sand Lake and Pittsburg . After losing the opener to Northampton 5 to 4 , Lansdale won 4 straight to take the Championship on Sunday afternoon by defeating Bethlehem by the score of 5 to 3 before on of the largest crowds in the history of the tournament.

The 1969 Tournament brought together the Philly Braves , Fountain Hill , Pottstown , Upper Merion , Phila. 21st Ward , Lansdale and Coplay. Fountain Hill went undefeated beating coplay in the final to win the title by a score of 10 to 3 .

THIS STORY IS TAKEN FROM THE 1970 CONNIE MACK PROGRAM BOOK

If anyone knows of any more history past 1969 feel free to e-mail me baseballnutflip@gmail.com

The 1970 tournament saw Coplay crowned are State Champion with Lansdale the runner up.

The 1971 tournament saw Coplay repeat as State Champion with Emmaus the runner up.

The 1972 tournament saw Coplay repeat as State Champion with Orefield the runner up  , Coplay has now become the second team in the History of Connie Mack to have three Championships in a row , are first team to accomplish this feat was Steelton winning three consecutive years of 1958 , 1959 and 1960 . congratulations to Coplay.

The 1973 tournament saw last years runner up Emmaus crowned are 1973 State Champion by defeating Hatfield are runner up .

The 1974 tournament saw  are second three repeat Champion Coplay win are 1974 Championship with last years champion Emmaus are runner up

FROM 1974 to 1991  THESE YEARS ARE MISSING again anyone with information on these years please feel free to email me at baseballnutflip@gmail.com  Thank you  , Ed Filipovits

Are 1991 State Champion was West Allentown

Are 1992 State Champion was Northampton

Are 1993 State Champion was Northampton

Are 1994 Tournament saw for only the third time in are history of Connie Mack a three peat Champion Northampton win the 1994 State Tournament with Towamencin Twp are runner up.  Congratulations to Northampton on this accomplishment .   Are three teams to have  three consecutive State Championship to date are Steelton  1958 , 1959 , 1960   , Coplay 1970 , 1971 , 1972 ,  and now Northampton  1992 , 1993 , 1994 .  Congratulations to these three teams for outstanding play.

Are 1995 State Champion was West Allentown this is there second Championship after winning there first one in are 1991 Tournament .

Are 1996 State Champion see’s a team from Towmanencin Township win there first State Championship. This would be there first Championship with Doylestown are runner up.

Are 1997 State Champion crowned is Southern Lehigh.

Are 1998 State Champion is a first time winner also in Harleysville being crowned 1998 State Champions.

Are 1999 Tournament saw a team who won this State Tournament back in 1969 in Fountain Hill being crowned Champions for their second Championship

The new millennium years start.

Are first State Champion for the new Millennium would come from the City of Bethlehem in North Central Bethlehem being crowned are State Champion for the year 2000

2001 would see a team who won the State Tournament back in 1963 become are second team for the New Millennium to win are State Tournament in Pennridge.

2002 would see a first time winner in Chal-Brit winning the Championship in are State Tournament

Are 2003 State Tournament being held down in NorGwyn , would be another team from the City of Bethlehem being crowned this years champion in Northwest Bethlehem , under the fine coaching of Mike Oriel.

2004 would produce another first time Champion in Jenkintown winning there first State Tournament.

2005 would see are first time winner of 2004 , repeat as State Champion in Jenkintown , congratulations to them.

2006 would bring are 1998 winner back for another State Champion in Harleysville under the direction of Mr. Geoffrey Ball .

Are 2007 Tournament would produce a first time winner in Hatfield being crowned State Champion.

2008 would see another first time winner in Deep Run winning this years State Championship.

The 2009 State Tournament would bring back are 1963  and 2001 State Champion in Pennridge.

2010 would see another first time winner in Doylestown being crowned State Champion.

The year 2011 would see Mr. Geoffrey Ball bring his Harleysville team to win there third State Title after winning back in 1998 and 2006. Congratulations Mr. Ball.

2012 would produce a second time Champion in Deep run winning there first back in 2008.

Are 2013 Champion who back in 2001 and 2009 won the State Tournament for there third State Title congratulations to Pennridge .

2014 would be a team who won this tournament back in 1996 defeat last years Champion Pennridge for there second State Title in the Team of Towamencin Township.

The year 2015 would see Mr. Geoffrey Ball with his team from Harleysville win his fourth State title defeating last years winner in Towamencin Township. His teams won this tournament in 1998 , 2006 and 2011.  This would be his last State Title in the fact that he has retired as Head Coach of the Harleysville Team.

2016 would see would see a Team from Towmanencin Township win there third State Title  , with runner up Souderton .  Towmanencin third Championship follows their performance in 1996 and 2014 as being crowned State Champions.

Again this is under construction all the time , if you know of any information on winners , coaches , players who won awards please feel free to email me at baseballnutflip@gmail.com  , Thank you for reading are story of are Connie Mack Baseball League .

Ed Filipovits