Star-Gazette from Elmira, New York on June 18, 1989 · 48
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Star-Gazette from Elmira, New York · 48

Elmira, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 18, 1989
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F Star-Gazette. Sunday. June 18. 1989 SPORTS 1989 ELM IRA PIONEERS Experienced players excite mew manager' By KAREN TROXEL Star-Gareie Speed, sc.g arms and experience are what the Elmira Pioneers bring to the 1539 season. he Pioneers and their fans are hoping the threesome turns into a winnir.g combination after a long bout with mediocrity. t new manager Mike Verdi and the 14 returning players from I9S8 have anything to say about it. the New York-Penn League had better watch out. Verdi, named Elmira's manager last December after working with the Red Sox farm team in Arizona last summer, says the speed is substantial and it rests on the legs of the three starting outfielders. Garrett Jenkins and Bart Moore are the cornerstones. In 30: games this spring, each stole 35 bases. Moore is a familiar face in Elmira, having spent last season here, batting .231 in 43 games and two stolen bases. Jenkins hit .228 in Arizona last year with fife stolen bases. joining those two is John Spencer, who stole five bases in 70 games last year in Elmira, and Richard Witherspoon, who hit .274 with six doubles and five triples in Arizona. Witherspoon is not expected to be 100 percent for the season opener as he is coming back from a hairline fracture in his foot. "With these three (Jenkins, Moore and Spencer), we scored a Fans: There are ho bad seats By CHRIS BREWSTER Star-Gazette VJhether you prefer box seats behind the dugouts or a seat in the right field bleachers, there are"plenty of places for the diehard Pioneer fan to watch their team play. According to Pioneers president and general manager Clyde Smoll, there are between 400 and 600 loyal fans who attend every game, and where they sit is as varied as where they come from. i "Some people like to sit in the box seats, because it puts them right next to the field and a lot closer to the players," Smoll said. "Some like to sit behind the screen because they can't get hit . with a foul ball, but others think that the screen restricts their vision." ,: fc'Among those long-time fans vtfhd choose a more unusual seat TIRE Ck SERVICE SUPER GT RADIAL 70 Speed Rated Bold Lettering P-Metric Sizes Steel Belted Protection 55300 SIZE P17570R13 $53.00 P18570RI3 34.00 PI9570R13 36.00 P18570R14 36.00 P19570RM 60.00 P2O570RU 62.00 P21570R14 66.00 P22570RM 70.00 P21570R1S 6S.00 P22570R15 72.00 P23570R15 73.00 P25570R15I 80.00 ?8 PREVIEW MIKE VERDI: "We don't have a heck of a lot of power. But we have seven guys that hit over .300." lot of runs with not many hits (this spring). I feel like we'll have as much speed and coverage area as anybody out there," said Verdi, who also said there wasn't a lot of punch in the lineup. "We don't have a heck of a lot of power. But we have seven guys that hit over .300." Some of the players Verdi is expecting to hit well for average are Ender Peroza at third base or outfield, Julio Rosario at shortstop and Luis Munoz at second. Munoz can also play in the outfield. is Jim DeRico of Overland Drive, Elmira, who has been watching the Pioneers from the right field bleachers "for more years than I'd like to think. "The best place is the right field bleachers, without a doubt. You get a better view of everything, I think. You've got a clear view of everything right there along the first base line. Everything's perfect." An advocate of the box seats as the best place to watch a game at Dunn Field is retired Elmira judge Dan Donahoe, who has kept the same seat, along the first-base line, for 30 years. "I think most anyplace at Dunn Field is fine," Donahoe said, "but there is a lot of local action right behind the" Pioneers dugout. You can really see what's going on." During his term as a judge, Donahoe used his box seat for the- CENTER Hallmark NICHOLS MAINTENANCE 60 MONTH CAR BATTERY Installation included. Sure to giva you fast starts regardless of the weather. Applications to fit most American and small trucks. Prife $(3)08 SS4.88 J Peroza is the newcomer spending his first year in professional baseball, while Rosario is back for his second straight season in Elmira after playing sparingly last year. "(Rosario) is going to get his shot at playing and we're just going to see what he can do," said Verdi. Providing some punch in the lineup will be first baseman David Alvarez, who hit .330 in Arizona with 21 RBI. What about the strong arms? Pitching instructor Garry Roggen-burk, who will be in and out of Elmira doing the season, says there's a lot of reason for hope. "We've got some good strong arms here and a lot of potential," he said. "Plus we've got some experience." Left-hander Ed Riley, scheduled to pitch opening day in Oneonta, will be joined for sure by Andy Rush, Jim Morrison and Al Sanders in the starting rotation. " Rush is back for his second turn in Elmira after going 3-8 and compiling a 4.15 earned run average in 78 innings of work. Morrison also returns in Elmira after spending 1986 and 1988 here and 1987 in Greensboro. Sanders is familiar to Elmira fans after going 2-6 with a 2.90 ERA in 83i innings in 1988. Rush, Morrison and Sanders are back after spending a few weeks in the Florida State League with Winter Haven, which was ,-,...v-... fcJU' '"' ft. Ml f VIEW FROM THE OUTFIELD: From Dunn Field. rapeutic reasons. "i ncof" m c. it ,.v,or. t oo orking as a p ace to f'get my ...KlL troubles and relax," he said. "I've had the seat for 30 years TIRE & SERVICE CENTER 734-4479 NTS Inspection Station R4080237 Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9-8, Sat. 9-6, Sun. 12-4 Salt Pricw in affaet thru JiMt 251k LUBEOIL FILTER SPECIAL '148 Replace oil with up to 5 qts Pennzoil 10w30. Install STP single stage fitter. Lube chassis (fittings extra) AIR CONDITIONER RECHARGE Purge system ol Freon Check hoses and compressor for leaks Refill System with Freon '2 88 41 coctter .v::eel baukciks Off the car computer wheel balance corrects static and dynamic force variations for a smoother ride and longer tire life. 5 COO EACH JIBF... TIRE ROTATION SPECIAL Rotate front tires to rear, rear to front $5v00 ,. 7. 1 :X V- - - . . , i v J OPENING DAY WARMUP: The Elmira Pioneers Richard Witherspoon warm up at Dunn Field Friday morning before heading to Oneonta for the Elmira last year while Witherspoon H We've got some potential. Plus we ve ravaged with pitching injuries. In the catching department, Luis Dorante, in his third tour at Elmira, looks to be the top prospect followed by Frank Morrelli, a Harvard product who hit .370 in extended spring, and Elmira veteran Chris Hanks, who can A.J - ' P"5 'y ' '1'- ' . ; the center field perspective on a and I've kept it every year. It's 1 1 a. 1 1 .. ... lIie oe51 w-ouo" uetause yuu re ft" J'" in the Shade on a hot day." day.' Two-thirds of the box seats are Little Falls angry summer without The Associated Press LITTLE FALLS - Lorrie Keefe isn't quite sure what she's going to do with herself this summer. "Maybe I'll take up jogging," she chuckled. Lorrie Keefe is a die-hard baseball fan, and she's not chuckling much these days. The outlook isn't brilliant for baseball fans in this village nestled amidst the rolling hills of the Mohawk Valley. A sickly silence has fallen on the patrons of the game mighty Casey has struck out. . ' The Casey in question, however, isn't the Mudville slugger from Ernest Thayer's classic Ebem. It's Michael Casey, who ought the Little Falls Mets last year and, when a better opportunity knocked, decided to strike out for his hometown of Pittsfield, Mass., rather than have his team play here at Veterans'. Park, a field of dreams if ever there was one. Michael Casey does have one thing in common with the smug slugger, Keefe says: his sense of timing it's mighty "rotten." "I didn't want to believe it at first. I just shake my head because I don't know what I'm going to do all summer," says the 53-year-old Keefe, who lives a couple of blocks from the ballpark and only missed a handful of home games in the 12 years the Mets played here. "There's really nothing much to do in this town. It was really quite a thrill having 'em here. "I hate to look at it rational," she added. "But when you spend that much money (Casey shelled out $230,000) for an A team, and being as we were noted as the smallest city in the whole United was promoted from Peoria in the Arizona League. good strong arms here and a lot of got some experience. 55 Mike Verdi Pioneers manager:; also expect to see some time at first Dorante can-play at first and third and in the outfield. And what about in the utility department? "God knows you hope nobody gets injured," said Verdi, "but I think we're in pretty good shape l-'sii. ,:..wifc"t -'W . rainy afternoon there doesn't appear sold in advance of the season 1 1 i . 1 . 1 . opener, amou saia, wun me ma- i0" t0 what he described as thp "lnval PuPrvHav rain nr shine fans. j j, States as having a franchise, I suppose I could see his point. But he certainly didn't do it in a very good way. He could have given us a chance to' get another team in here." Despite losing money in his first season as an owner, Casey intended to stay in Little Falls for at least one more year. However, that quickly changed when the Pittsfield Cubs of the Class AA Eastern League decided to move last September. "We realized after the loss we experienced that we were going to be treating this as a business," Casey said, sitting in his office at Pittsfield's Wahconah Park. "We knew, and we were very up-front with the people over there, that long-term we just couldn't see us staying in Little Falls because of the investment that was made. "We thought the Cubs would be here, but when it opened up we acted, and we acted in a hurry." That happened in mid-December, and Little Falls was left without a team at the worst possible time. "We thought at least if he stayed for the '89 season that would give us a chance to look," Mayor Michael Izzo said. Casey may not have given them that chance, but his decision to move to Pittsfield (population 50,000) appears to nave been a prudent one business-wise. Despite its awful reputation, Wahconah Park (in the past gatnes have had to be delayed because the sun sets directly behind center field and batters were unable to see the speeding ball) is looking good these days. ... i MAUREEN HUGHESStor Gazette, (throwing) and Lou Munoz (batting) season-opener. Munoz played irt UttC if it happens. We've got several, people who can help us a lot xh different ways." As for the prospects for the season, Verdi said, "I think we'll' be just fine. We got the speed V was looking for and good arms'.! That's what we need to buildJ on. j Tj f M. -,.- . TERESA HURTStor-Goiette ' to be any bad seats at Elmira's "The area from which fansr troirol io mii rnrfl n -I r 1 1 Tl Ara iu) from Trey toiSfaS' L 11.L r !: S ai? 5 "u BL)ule irum as lar nurui as uuii- dee.' about baseball. It's got a fresh paint job in. the Mets' colors, of course a new, infield, new scoreboard, bilk boards galore, and a screen-in center field to block out the sunsets. Casey is expecting a sellout crowd of 5,200 on opening day and hopes to draw at least 50,0001 for the season, which is7 crammed in from mid-June .to the end of August. (Little FaHs; drew just under 30,000 to rank irt the middle of the New York-PennJ League in attendance last season). In one sense, Little Falls is' a' victim of a not-so-pleasant trend; in minor-league baseball. "' "It seems to be going toward ,fhe bigger cities," says Oneonta-Yankees owner Sam Nader, who's; been in the business for almost a" half century. "If we're really say" ing that baseball is Americarg game, better not forget the peo.; pie in the provinces. -The days where the community people are involved seem to be going by the boards. Now we're getting entrepreneurs and people who are , in it for ego trips or whatever.' Jt makes it extremely difficult for the small community, which Ms been the backbone of this great sport, to survive." The loss has saddened the fans in this village of 6,000, a hot-stove community where all the important decisions in life seem to be made at the local McDonald's. "It's terrible, we're going to miss them awful," says Charles Raiello, who runs a newstand down on Main Street. 'During the summer we had something to do, and the children, too. Now they haven't got nothing." ' m' - . J

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