The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

July 24, 2013

MIKE MASTOVICH| Rule waiver soothes concerns

JOHNSTOWN — Dean Albany felt a sense of baseball relief late Wednesday night.

For days, even weeks, the Youse’s Maryland Orioles of Baltimore GM had pondered the possibility of life without the the AAABA Tournament this summer and perhaps beyond.

The uncertainty lifted when Albany received a phone call from AAABA national secretary/Executive Director Bob Wolfe of Zanesville.

Wolfe informed Albany that a new AAABA rule would be waived until 2014, thus allowing Youse’s to bring its regular roster to Johnstown when the 69th AAABA Tournament begins on Aug. 5. Baltimore has won a tournament-record 28 championships and 263 AAABA Tournament games.

“It’s open this year. Next year it will be limited. At least we will know,” said Albany. “We love this tournament. All we talk about all year with our players is Johnstown. We tell them Joe Torre played there. Buck Showalter played there. They want to go to Johnstown.”

The trip was in jeopardy because of a rule change passed during the AAABA national meeting in March.

The rule stated that AAABA team rosters must include a minimum of 10 players from the franchise’s home state.

While the rule has a direct effect on franchises such as Baltimore and Philadelphia that recruit a number of out-of-state players, Albany was more concerned by the fact that the rule took effect immediately. Most AAABA teams are assembled during the fall and winter. At the time of the rule change, Baltimore’s roster was almost entirely set, Albany said.

Albany said manager Tim Norris was faced with the possibility of having to release players who had spent the entire summer with Youse’s Maryland Orioles to comply with the rule.

Furthermore, Albany said if the Orioles couldn’t find enough Maryland players to replace those out-of-state players, Baltimore would either have to drop out of the AAABA Tournament on short notice this year, or come to Johnstown with fewer and younger players.

“We don’t want to cut players and replace them with Maryland players,” Albany said. “We’d have to send kids home who have been with us all summer.”

Wolfe had explored various possibilities in the past few weeks, calling on the executive committee and rules committee for input. “I notified the Baltimore franchise that the rule had been waived and would become effective in 2014,” Wolfe said.

The waiver came too late for Philadelphia manager Mike Gossner, whose team’s homefield actually is in New Jersey and many of his players are from the Garden State.

Gossner submitted his roster for the Altoona Regional on July 20. He released a group of Division I players and will arrive in Altoona today with 15 players – only five in college.

That’s ironic considering this is the first year the age limit has been pushed to 21 in order to align the AAABA with college age leagues.

“I can’t change at this point,” Gossner said Wednesday night. 

“I had a guy from Rider University, two from Seton Hall, one from William & Mary and a  JUCO player who was drafted. That core, they were pitching guys. They were arms. But it’s fine. It’s OK. It is what it is.”

It just doesn’t seem logical though. Don’t we want to see the best players in what’s billed as a national tournament?

Instead, some of them are being sent home.

Multiple people involved with the tournament, both as managers or committee members, said the rule change will help teams that have struggled.

The AAABA Tournament also should be about putting an elite product on the field, something that made the event a haven for major league scouts from the 1950s into the 1990s as future major leaguers such as Al Kaline, Joe Torre, Ron Swoboda, Pete Vuckovich, Gene Pentz, Bob Welch, Orel Hershiser, Chris Sabo and Jim Abbott roamed the Point.

Managers Chris Pfeil and Chris DelSignore, who have busted their tails to build very competitive Johnstown franchises, have told me if they’re going to win a title in their hometown tournament, they want to do so against the best.

Detroit and Washington already are gone, cutting the Big 4 in half. Here’s hoping Baltimore and Philadelphia keep coming back – with Division I caliber players on their rosters.

“I’m going to do my best to keep coming back,” said Albany, a AAABA Hall of Famer. “The City of Johnstown does a great job with that tournament. That whole community embraces the tournament. I love that tournament.”

The rule almost certainly will be discussed during next March’s national meeting.

“It’s one of the things that’s been talked about for a long time,” Wolfe said. “There have been all kinds of different rule proposals over the years that suggest you limit the territory that a team has to select their players from.

“Some teams it will affect because they go out and recruit a lot more than other teams. A team like Zanesville, we never have recruited players from outside the state of Ohio and I don’t think we ever would. We’re a small area and we want to see local players play on the Junior Pioneers and come and play in a great tournament in Johnstown, Pa.”

Gossner has the odds stacked against him in Altoona, but he’s not complaining.

“We made a decision and we’re living with it,” Gossner said. “I’m a huge fan of the AAABA Tournament.”

q q q

Altoona Regional set: The Altoona Regional will consist of five teams and begin Friday at Veterans Field and the Juniata Complex.

The additional team in Altoona is a result of the elimination of the Zaneville (Ohio) Regional this year.

Altoona Johnston Realty will host the regional. Other teams are the Youngstown Ohio Glaciers, Columbus Braves, New York Long Island White Sox, and Philadelphia Bandits.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • Dodgers Pirates Polanco, Walker lift Pirates over Dodgers

    Gregory Polanco broke out of a slump with a solo home run and a tiebreaking two-run single, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 12-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.
    Polanco, hitting just .133 in his previous 11 games, smacked a bases-loaded single with two outs in the sixth to put Pittsburgh in front for good.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • ACC Kickoff Football ACC schools get optimism from stability

    Welcome to the new Atlantic Coast Conference.
    It’s where a founding member is out, a fast-rising program is in, Notre Dame is there, too – sort of – and nobody else is leaving.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • aaaba 0721 Martella’s sweeps past Delweld

    A six-run rally in the first helped guide Martella’s Pharmacy to an 8-1 win over Delweld in Game 3 of their best-of-5 AAABA League semifinal series at Point Stadium, sweeping the series in the process.
    That rally also continued season-long trends for the clubs, according to their respective managers.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • warshel_0721 Warshel selecting UPJ

    For Kelci Warshel, the call to attend Pitt-Johnstown was based on the availability of her desired major – nursing.
    Taking an opportunity to join the university’s women’s track and field program was a very nice add-on and one that the Richland High graduate is ready to jump into ...
    ... Or hurdle over.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0721 Rallying Dodgers snap Pirates’ win streak at 3 games

    Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.
    Ryu (11-5) joined Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in making the Dodgers the first team in the majors with three 11-game winners.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitt picked sixth in cluttered Coastal

    Florida State was an obvious choice as a favorite in one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s divisions.
    In the other one, the pecking order was nowhere near that clear.

    July 21, 2014

  • Local Sports Briefs

    July 21, 2014

  • American Legion Region 7: Bedford gets past Clearfield

    Bedford’s Jake Stover had two hits with double and three RBIs in a 9-6 win against host Clearfield in the Pa. American Legion Region 7 Tournament.

    July 21, 2014

  • American Legion Region 7: Claysburg edges Beech Creek

    Claysburg’s Mike Mock went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run in the fourth inning to help his squad get by Beech Creek 7-6 during Sunday’s winners-bracket game in the Pa. American Legion Region 7 Tournament.

    July 21, 2014

  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo