If you can remember the time that the Tyrone VFW Teeners won the Pennsylvania State championship and then finished as the runner-up at the National Tournament, then have you realized that you are dating yourself as an old-timer? That was 50 years ago this summer!
The 1957 Tyrone VFW Teeners won the county championship and then represented Blair County in the 1957 state tournament. The team including pickups from other parts of the county were: Jon Stroup, David Getz, Charlie Kirkpatrick, Winston Harpster, Robert Clites and Jan Dannaway from Tyrone, Regan Carper, John Ayers, George Myers and Lowell Ritchey from Martinsburg, Robert Burke and Robert Hansard from Altoona, and Williams Hughes, Dennis Clark and Robert Nassif from Hollidaysburg.
Before all was said and done, the Tyrone Teeners placed first at the Area 5, and PA State Tournaments and was the runner-up to Canal Zone at the National Tournament!
Roger Branstetter of Tyrone, was the manager and Elmer Kirkpatrick of Tyrone, and Merle Carper of Martinsburg, were his coaches. Gary Kirkpatrick of Tyrone was a batboy, Fred Dannaway of Tyrone, was the score keeper and John Ferner and William LaRosa, both of Tyrone were the equipment managers.
The Blair County VFW All-Stars opened the Area 5 playoffs at the Juniata College field in Huntingdon, by bashing Gallitzin 19-0 and 12-2. Jon Stroup pitched a two-hit shutout in the first game and slugged a grand slam home run. Bob Nassif and Jan Dannaway each drove in four runs and Regan Carper had four singles in four trips to the plate. In the second contest of the best-of-three, Bob Burke hurled the complete-game victory and Bob Hansard had three hits and drove in three runs.
Next up was a two-game sweep of Huntingdon, with the locals winning 12-0 on a Dave Getz shutout, and Stroup keeping Huntingdon scoreless from the second until the seventh, while the Blair County All-Stars banged out 20 hits in a 12-4 win. Bob Clites’ bases-loaded double was the big blow in a seven-run seventh inning that blew the first game open. Carper banged out four hits in the second game, and Stroup and Hansard each added three base hits.
After parading through the Area 5 playoffs, the Tyrone Teeners next traveled to Chester, for the PA State VFW Tournament.
In the first game, Nassif and Stroup combined to knock off Carrick 13-5. Stroup pitched a four-hitter and contributed a solo home run, while Nassif belted two home runs and drove in five runs. In the second game, it took 10 innings, but resulted in a 7-3 triumph over Mechanicsburg. Tied at 2-2 after the regulation seven innings, each team scored a run in the ninth, before Bobby Hansard drove in a bases-loaded run in the 10th, and Tyrone went on to score twice more for insurance. Dave Getz went the distance for the win, striking out 10. Hansard had four hits in all, including the game-winner. In the championship contest, against Uniontown, Getz took the mound again, fanning 10 and walking six to pick up both the win and the MVP trophy for the tournament. Down 1-0 through the first five innings, the Tyrone VFW Teeners put five runs on the board in the top of the sixth and Getz never allowed Uniontown to get any closer than the final score. John Ayers singled and scored the first run of the inning when the catcher dropped the ball on a play at the plate, to open the flood gates. Carper singled and scored on a George Myers’ base hit, Myers scored when Nassif doubled, Nassif scooted home on a Getz double and the MVP scored later on an error.
In the National Championships, held at Hershey, Tyrone pitchers notched back-to-back one-hitters for 10-0 and 6-4 wins in their first two contests. First, the Tyrone Teeners eliminated Azteca. New Mexico, with Stroup notching a one-hitter. In the second game, Getz also limited the opponent to one hit, with 11 strikeouts and four walks, but lost his shutout with Tyrone committing six errors behind him. With the score tied 4-4 in the seventh inning, Carper walked and scored on a single from Nassif, and Myers scored on an error on a ball hit by Hansard. Facing Beatrice, Nebraska, in the semifinals, Stroup gave the locals a 7-2 win, tossing a three-hitter, always managing to pitch himself out of trouble, despite walking six batters. Nebraska had three errors and all led to Tyrone runs. Hansard had two hits and stole home, and Nassif added two hits.
In the National Championship final against Canal Zone, the defense let down, committing five errors in an 11-1 loss that forced the Tyrone Teeners to accept the runner-up trophy. Hansard scored Carper with a first-inning single for the only Tyrone score.
Despite the loss, Stroup was selected as the National Tournament MVP. It was quite a ride for the local teeners!
A Testimonial Banquet was held to honor the team in Oct. 1957 at the Logan School, with turkey and all the trimmings.
The Blair County trophy was accepted by Jan Dannaway, Robert Hansard accepted the Area Championship trophy, assistant coach Elmer Kirkpatrick accepted the PA state championship, and the national runner-up trophy was accepted by manager Roger Branstetter. The boys were presented state championship jackets by Eugene Johnson, Commander VFW Post 4559, Tyrone. The toastmaster was past president and district commander Robert D. Sullivan. Remarks were given by James Lang, District VFW Commander, by Milton Neuman, professional scout for the St. Louis Cardinals, and by George Caba, Athletic Officer, Department of PA, VFW.
The Tyrone VFW Teener Team, which had earlier won the Blair County championship for the right to play in the state tournament, was composed of Harpster, Kirkpatrick, Stroup, Getz and Jan Dannaway, along with Gary Greene, Ray Homan, Howard Gearhart, Richard Hagg, John Rhodes, Larry Lucas, George Keller, Joe Greene, Chester Wolford, Dave Fike, Tom Miller, William O’Brian, Chet Michaels, Fred Light, Joe Dawson, John Stitt, John Ball, Lee Grimm and Jim Maisano.
The 1957 Blair County VFW Teener All-Stars will hold a 50th anniversary Dinner tonight at the Bull Pen Restauant.