Beyond the Byline: Memories of the 1951 Little League Championship of St. Therese

WILKES-BARRE – Long before the Little League World Series became such a big event, small town leagues had hundreds of kids competing for their titles and the competition was fierce and fun.

This was the case with the 1951 Sanitary Wiping Cloth team of the Little League Sainte-Thérèse in South Wilkes-Barre.

Bob Amory, now 82, was the team’s first hitter, and he provided newspaper clippings and a team photo that all hung in his barber shop – Bob’s Barber Shop – around the corner. Parrish and Brown Streets for 43 years from 1963 to 2006.

Bob’s mother cut all the stories and kept them for her son, who still cherishes them today, and the memories they evoke.

It was a time when The Times Leader had plenty of news from the local community, highlighted with individual headlines of the name of each town and several stories and photos of everything that was happening in each of those communities.

Little League baseball was big news at the time. This was the case with the Sanitary Wiping Cloth team that won the title in 1951, at the time setting a record for the most games won in a single season – 15.

All cities would recap games played during the week, detailing how Little League kids did, who hit a homer, who took out 10 batters, standings and schedules. It was a typical small town in America when baseball was everything to kids back then. We ate and breathed it.

Bob Amory grew up in the High Street Rolling Mill Hill section of town. Not only did his team win the league title, but they were invited to travel to play exhibition games, especially at Williamsport, due to their record season.

Here are some cuts from the Sanitary Wiping Cloth team’s season:

“Sanitary Nine stops Woody Woodlawn, 9-3, for Little League title”

“Jim Ryan posts victory behind 13-shot attack”

Little League baseball activity in the Wyoming Valley peaked Friday night at Miner Park when the new Sanitary Wiping Cloth won the 1951 St. Therese League crown by defeating Woody Woodlawn, 9-3. .

The tilt, the third in a three-game playoff series, saw Woodlawn’s club take an early lead with a three-point push in the first and second innings, only to give up eight points in the final frames to drop. the very big championship contest.

“Teams were forced into the playoffs when the Woodlawn Little Leaguers finished the second half of the regular season leading the loop standings after the sanitary team won first half honors.

“In addition to winning the championship, the sanitary team had the distinction of recording the longest winning streak in Little League Baseball across the country this year. During the heat of the regular season, the sanitary team, sponsored by Simon Saba, racked up a long streak of 15 consecutive wins before retiring from a game that nearly shattered the first half of the race.

“Ryan publishes a victory”

Friday night’s winning pitcher Jim Ryan had six of the team’s 15-game winning streak, while Lefty Lewis, who played midfield on Friday night, had seven big wins and Russ Belles, one of the best hitters of the team, registered two triumphs.

“In Friday’s tilt Ryan got off to a rocky start, allowing two Woodlawn runners to cross the plate in the first run after his comrades gave him a one point lead in the first half of the opening run. . In the second inning, the Woodlawn batters got Ryan for their third count to take a two-run, 3-1 lead.

Ryan returned to form in the third inning allowing him to set one of the best records of the year in Little League and beat his opponents without running for the rest of the all-important competition, limiting the Woodlawn’s team to 10 hits over the six innings course.

“While Ryan was throwing some great shots for the sanitary team, his comrades provided him with excellent batting support, scoring three runs in both frames to practically win the contest.”

“Attack of the Beautiful Paces”

“The big gun in the sanitary attack was Russ Belles, who hit four hits while maintaining the first half position. Among his shots were a home run, two doubles and a single which accounted for five of the sanitary points. With Belles, third baseman Jim Karambelles provided Ryan with a few good shots, registering two hits, as did Ryan’s wide receiver John Derolf, who had two hits.

“After the club’s triumph, the team was celebrated at a victory dinner by its sponsor Simon Saba, who also hosted the parents of the diamond stars. The team members received jackets from Saba at the dinner.

All of this certainly gives you a clear idea of ​​what it was like back then – how each town supported its local children. And the Sanitary Wiping Rags team was a prime example of how the city people gathered around their hometown teams.

Amory recently returned from South Carolina to the area. He said the cuts are “just good old memories” of his childhood.

Amory invites one of his Little League teammates to contact him by writing a comment at the end of this column.

Amory said Russ Belles was “the coach of all coaches” and Saba was the “sponsor of all sponsors”. He said league organizers Sam Harris, Ed Christian and Joe Long, as well as Reverend Gallagher of St. Therese, should be credited for their dedication to children.

Like Amory said, good old memories.

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About Catherine Sherrill

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