The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

October 6, 2013

Somerset County baseball hall to induct 9

JOHNSTOWN — The Somerset County Oldtimers Baseball Association Hall of Fame will hold its 17th annual induction ceremony at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Berlin Community Building.

The Class of 2013 includes:

George “Lefty” Boyko: One of Windber’s baseball greats, Boyko was born in 1911 and received his first hand-carved bat, made by his father, at age 6. A pitcher, Boyko’s career began in 1926.

He played for the Whippets Independent team (1927), the Windber Community League (1928-36), Windber Jednota League and Pennsylvania Jednota League.

He pitched a no-hitter against Barnesboro in 1935. Between 1939 and 1949 he played for the Somerset County League. In 1943-44 he played in the Johnstown League.

He retired in 1949. Windber celebrated “Lefty Boyko Day in recognition of his 23 years of dedication to the game.

Fred Deem: Deem played baseball while serving in the Armed Forces and after the war played for Berlin in the Southern Somerset County Baseball League. He played second base and outfield.

He assisted the playground league, Pony League and Junior/Senior Legion teams. Deem coached and umpired.

Ronald L. Fish: Fish played for Hollsopple in the Somerset County League from 1953 to 1961. An outfielder, he threw left and batted right. Fish’s 1960 Hollsopple team earned the Somerset County League championship.

Fish coached the Hooversville Little League from 1977 to 1980 and was the manager in 1980. The Hoover Field in Hooversville was under renovation and unusable. Fish gained permission from Berwind-Shite Coal Company to use the Blough field. He organized the renovation of the backstop and prepared the field for play.

Ronald G. Matse: Matse excelled in baseball, football and wrestling at North Star High School, where he graduated in 1976. His baseball career began in the Boswell Little League, where he hit 20 homers as a 12-year-old and tossed two no-hitters.

He played in the Somerset County Minor League and for Boswell Post 461 in American Legion baseball.

One of the area’s top catchers, Matse played in the Johnstown Junior League/AAABA League, playing for the Highland Boosters. He led the Johnstown league in home runs and RBIs as a 19-year-old. Minnesota Twins scout Ed Dunn made the trip to Johnstown for a tryout at Cochran School. Matse performed well enough to earn a contract. He attended the Minnesota Twins training camp in Melbourne, Fla., in 1978. As a wrestler, he placed third in the state as a senior at 155, and wrestled collegiately at Pitt-Johnstown under coach Pat Pecora.

Robert J. Mayer: Mayer began played Little League baseball in Somerset at age 9 and played four years before entering the Somerset Senior League program for three years. Eventually, Mayer attended Florida State University for legendary coaches Jack Stallings and Mike Martin.

He pitched in two NCAA regional tournaments and one College World Series at FSU. In 1975 he played on the top-ranked college team as Florida State went 49-9. Eight of his college teammates went onto major league careers.

In 1974, Mayer played for the Baltimore Johnnies and appeared in the AAABA Tournament in Johnstown.

Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds after his junior season at FSU in 1976, Mayer pitched five minor league seasons as both a starter and reliever. After his pro career, Mayer became head coach at Somerset High School from 1984 through 1990, coaching future pro baseball players Andy Rush, Wade Fyock, Mike Moore and Mike Sube.

He began scouting for the Cleveland Indians in 1991, a role he continues to hold. Mayer has been involved in the signing of more than 20 major league players and personally signed 14 big leaguers.

William McGuire: As a youth, McGuire played for Somerset County, Conemaugh Township and Hollsopple. After his playing days, he coached Little League for most of his adult life.

An avid Brooklyn Dodgers fan, McGuire was buried with his Brooklyn Dodgers cap when he died in 2003.

John “Ross” Shinew: Shinew grew up in northwest Ohio near Bowling Green and began working Little League games as a home plate umpire during his teenage years. At age 16, he took Al Summer’s Umpire Course and worked at the Pony and Babe Ruth league levels. By age 18, he began to work bigger games and tournaments in Ohio.

A few years later, Shinew began working a schedule of small college games with the likes of Ohio Northern University, Findlay College, Defiance and Bluffton. At this time he was the youngest college umpire in Ohio. He also was on the staffs of three semipro leagues – the Ohio State League in Ottawa, the Latin American League and the Lima Metro League. He was an administrator of a youth league with 63 teams spanning five age levels.

Shinew moved to Somerset County during the 1977-78 school year and acquired a full schedule of high school games. He worked three summers of men’s fast pitch softball, three summers of Pen-Mar baseball and also called games for the New Centerville Little League.

In 1986, Shinew began umpiring in the Johnstown Junior League/AAABA League. From 1995 through 1997, he umpired games for the independent Class A Frontier League, working games featuring the Johnstown Steal and Johnnies. In June 2010, he was on a crew for a PIAA Baseball Championship Game. He has worked numerous PIAA semifinals, district finals and American Legion Regional Tournaments.

Shinew currently is president of the Tri-County Umpires, president and rules interpreter for the Windber Chapter, Somerset County Umpires and PIAA District 5 rules interpreter.

Michael “Pie” Wilk: Born in Cairnbrook in 1930, Wilk lived his entire life there. He began playing in the fastpitch Somerset County leagues in the 1940s and continued playing into the 1960s. He pitched a one-hitter in Game 4 of the 1959 Somerset County League Shaughnessy Championship series as his Cairnbrook team beat Somerset.

The Baltimore Orioles invited Wilk to try out when he was working in the Bethlehem Steel mills in Baltimore. In the mid-1970s, he began coaching Little League baseball in Central City. In 1981 his Royals team won the league championship with a 12-1 record. He coached in the Junior American Legion League and in 1989 his team was the Northern Division champion and in 1990 the Somerset County League champion.

In 1990, then-Shade baseball coach Paul Leonard hired him as an unpaid assistant coach for the high school team. He coached from 1990 to 1999, helping the team win a District 5 championship in 1997.

Wilk died in an automobile accident in 2005 at age 74. The Michael “Pie” Wilk Memorial Baseball Field was dedicated in May 2006 in his honor. Also to honor his memory, a $500 educational scholarship was established in 2008 to be awarded to the senior baseball player with the highest grade point average who is going on to continue his education. Six scholarships have been awarded at Shade.

Jim Wiltrout: Wiltrout began his career in 1948 in the Junior Legion baseball league under coach Carl Waugaman. In 1950, at age 16, he played for Harrison, the team’s inaugural year in the Central County League. The team won the league playoff, with Wiltrout earning the win in a 5-2 victory over Somerset in Game 2.

Wiltrout played two years for Acosta. In 1953, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War era. He played baseball in the service on fields from Georgia to Canada. He played for Dover Air Force Base for two years. While stationed at the National Airport base team he played in the Washington, D.C., league and once tossed a 17-strikeout, one-hitter.

After returning to civilian life, he played for Somerset in the county league and was 8-0 as a pitcher. He won 15 straight games and played for Somerset and Listie until the league was disbanded in the early 1960s.

Wiltrout began coaching the Somerset Eagles Little League team in 1962. He moved to Meyersdale and began coaching  Little League there in 1972. He started the first Meyersdale Junior Legion team in 1976, and the team still exists. He umpired youth baseball for 10 years and was honored last year by the PIAA for umpiring 35 years of high school athletics.

Tickets for the banquet cost $15 and may be purchased by contacting Walt Bodizak at 814 467-9241, Paul Leonard at 244-6995, or any member of the board of directors of the Somerset County Oldtimers Baseball Association. Tickets may be purchased at Hollsopple Insurance, 1109 West Main Street, Somerset; and Somerset Trust Company, 151 West Main Street, Somerset.

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