Green Ridge Youngsters Team up with Fidelity to Help Fire Victims

By Steve Svetovich

These youngsters sponsored a lemonade stand in conjunction with the efforts of Fidelity Bank to help victims of a fire in Green Ridge. The kids raised $177.64 for the cause. Shown from left are: Maggie Young, Gabe DeScipio, Olivia DeScipio and Corgan Carr.

These youngsters sponsored a lemonade stand in conjunction with the efforts of Fidelity Bank to help victims of a fire in Green Ridge. The kids raised $177.64 for the cause. Shown from left are: Maggie Young, Gabe DeScipio, Olivia DeScipio and Corgan Carr.

A group of young children offered to serve free lemonade at the Green Ridge Branch of Fidelity Bank Saturday, June 27, to raise money for the victims of a fire May 16 at East Market Street, Scranton. There were seven families affected by the fire.

The children served free lemonade from from 9:30 to 11:30 a,m. and asked visitors to consider donations of money or gently used household and cleaning supplies to help victims of the May 16 fire at East Market Street by Green Ridge corners. Seven families were displaced and lost almost all their possessions. Only one of the families had renter’s insurance.

Fidelity Bank branch manager Jill Valenti worked with local business woman, Therese Brunetti, from Brunetti’s Pizza, to make the Green Ridge branch of Fidelity Bank a collection site for the seven affected families. Patty DeScipio, marketing communications officer for Fidelity Deposit and Discount Bank, was there with Valenti and Brunetti during the fund raising event.

“Jill Valenti, our branch manager, came up with the idea along with our neighbors from Brunetti’s Pizza,” said DeScipio. “Brunetti’s Pizza took up a collection and posted it on their Facebook page. They have kept people informed to drop of collections and household items at the drop off at the Fidelity Bank Green Ridge branch.

“The lemonade stand is part of an initiative program with kids at the Fidelity Bank. I handle the donations. It is being done as part of the summer initiative program for children. It is a fun way for the children to sell lemonade and help the families who were victims of this terrible fire. The fire also affected some local businesses. These families don’t even know where to start from. Everything they owned is gone. The lemonade fund raising event was a win win situation. It was a great way for the children to learn a lesson about helping others while having fun at the same time.”

“This fire affected so many families, so many people and had an impact on several Green Ridge businesses. The children did a wonderful job helping out the victims with the lemonade stands.”

If anyone else wants to help, there is a drop off box at the Green Ridge branch of Fidelity Bank.

Holy Cross Pitcher Takes Talents to St. Bonaventure

By Steve Svetovich

James Wetter had a knack of coming through as a pitcher in big games during his four year varsity baseball career at Holy Cross High School. And now Big Game James will be taking his talents to St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY. He will attend on a four-year academic and baseball scholarship.

Son of Atty. James and Janine Wetter, Dunmore, James finished his Holy Cross academic career with a 3.85 GPA. His best subject is math. James will major in Finance at St. Bonaventure. He has aspirations to become a lawyer like his dad.

The scholar-athlete was the voice of boys’ basketball and football at Holy Cross. He was Vice President of Crusaders for Compassion, an Animals Rights club. He was a member of the Latin Club.

James pitched for the Crusaders during his entire four year varsity baseball career. He fashioned an impressive 1.75 ERA  last season and 2.50 ERA in his junior year as the staff ace.

He was asked about the highlight of his varsity baseball career. “That would have to be in my freshman season,” he said. “We started out the season 1-4. Then we won nine games in a row and went all the way to the district championship game. It was quite a thrill as a team.”

James said he learned a lot from Holy Cross baseball coach Sandy Menichetti. “Besides the on the field work, coach Menichetti taught us how to act off the field. On the field he taught us to keep our composure at all times. He taught us we could always come back and get going in games we were behind. He set us up to come back.”

The stalwart pitcher, humble and polite in nature, said he learned a lot from his parents. “My parents taught me how to treat people. They taught me that everyone is equal and to treat everyone fair.”

James said he likes listening to music in his spare time. He would like to see Taylor Swift in concert.

He talked about what it takes to succeed as a pitcher. “You need to keep your composure. Don’t get too high and don’t get too low. Always try to hit your spots.”

James, who struck out 44 batters in 38 innings in his senior year, is keeping busy this summer pitching for the Northeast Pride in the Hudson Valley Collegiate Summer Baseball League.

He was thrilled to receive the scholarship to St. Bonaventure and can’t wait to get started in August. “I was extremely excited when I got the scholarship and decided to attend. I will get to play at a high level of Division I baseball and get a great education. They have a great business program for finance. And it will be a very good preparation for law school. I can’t wait to play baseball there.”

Right now James is enjoying his summer, working and playing baseball. “I loved going to Holy Cross,” he said. “I made many friends. I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot in school and really enjoyed my four years playing baseball there. It was just a great experience all around.”

And he’s not done yet. The future is bright athletically and academically for Big Game James.

Larsen’s World Series Perfect Game Resonates Almost 60 Years Later

By Steve Svetovich

It was a perfect day for a Legends game at Moosic’s PNC Field this past June 21.
After all, it was Father’s Day and 31 former New York Yankees, including Don Larsen, were on hand for an old-timer’s game before a near capacity crowd.

The biggest name there was No. 44, Mr. October. Yes, Reggie Jackson, with 563 career home runs, was there and had a base hit to right field in the contest.

Don Larsen pitched a perfect game during the 1956 World Series.

Don Larsen pitched a perfect game during the 1956 World Series.

But standing in the left corner of the dugout during pre-game warmups was the only man to ever pitch a perfect game in World Series history. Don Larsen, who will be 86 in August, accomplished the legendary feat almost six decades ago in Game Five of the 1956 World Series.

Larsen was keenly glancing at the younger former Yankees in the corner of the dugout when approached by this scribe for an interview.

Larsen is a fixture at the annual old-timers day at Yankee Stadium. He was just there for that event the day before. “I am not sure how many old-timers games I have been to,” he said. “I know it is a lot. Maybe near 50. It was very nice this year when they honored Willie Randolph and Mel Stottlemeyer. I know Mel was surprised. He has not been well lately. He deserved it. It was a good function, very nice. And I am enjoying this function today.”

Larsen’s battery mate for his perfect game, Yogi Berra, 90, was absent during this year’s old-timers game at Yankee Stadium. “I don’t know why he couldn’t make it,” Larsen said. “I have not seen Yogi in a while.”
The talk quickly turned to A-Rod and his recent 3,000th hit, a home run.

“I am very happy for A-Rod,” said Larsen. “I like A-Rod. I was hoping he would do well this season. And he is playing extremely well and helping the Yankees. I think the Yankees treated A-Rod very bad. I don’t like the way they treated him at all. No way should he have been treated like that. He is a member of the team. He is starting to win the favor of the fans back. I hope he continues to perform well. It is nice to see that.”

Larsen said he likes the makeup of this year’s Yankees team. “It is not for me to decide where they end up,” he said, “but I like the team and think they will make the playoffs. They have been playing well. It’s a good team.”

Larsen acknowledged his biggest thrill in the game was his perfect game, but said there were other big moments. “Pitching in all those World Series was a big thrill. I got to pitch in a few of them and that was always a thrill.” Larsen had a career pitching record of 4-2 in World Series play. Getting to the World Series and winning was always a goal.”

Larsen, stoic at times, but polite, was interrupted by a heckler from the media during the course of the interview. The media heckler repeatedly asked Larsen in a joking manner if he was sober. Larsen, known during his playing days as one who enjoyed a few beers on the town with teammates, responded with a cold stare to the heckler while continuing the interview.

Larsen made his major league debut April 18, 1953 for the old St. Louis Browns. He pitched for seven major league teams, compiling an 81-91 record and 3.78 ERA. He struck out 849 batters. But it was for the New York Yankees where he really shined. He pitched in New York from 1955 through 1959, compiling an impressive 45-24 record. He made 90 starts in 128 appearances under manager Casey Stengel.

Larsen reported to spring training with a sore shoulder in 1955. He was ineffective in the beginning of the  season and was demoted to the Denver Bears. However, he came back to the Yankees and pitched in 19 games, starting 13 of them. He had a 9-2 record with a  3.07 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 97 innings. He pitched his first career shutout against now Hall of Famer Jim Bunning and the Detroit Tigers on August 5, 1955.

The 1956 season was the best of Larsen’s career. He posted an 11-5 record, with a career best 107 strikeouts and 3.26 ERA.  He pitched in 38 games, starting 20. By the end of May, he had a 5.64 ERA. He steadily improved throughout the magical season which culminated for him with the perfect game.

In a seven-start stretch to finish the season, he had five complete games and pitched 10 innings in another. He pitched a four-hit shutout against the Orioles September 3 and finished the season with a 7-3 win over Boston September 28.

His perfect game came October 8, 1956 in Game 5 of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen had lost Game 2 of the Series. His opponent for Game 5 was Sal “The Barber’ Maglie. Larsen needed just 97 pitches to nail down the perfect game.

The only Dodger to get a three-ball count was Pee Wee Reese in the first inning.

“I had great control,” Larsen said. “I never had that kind of control in my life.”

The final pitch was a called third strike to pinch hitter Dale Mitchell, a career .311 hitter. The lasting shot of catcher Yogi Berra jumping into Larsen’s arms is considered one of the greatest moments in baseball history.

Larsen received the Babe Ruth Award and was named MVP of the 1956 World Series. Larsen did some promotional work throughout the country following his perfect game, but stopped soon after because he felt the endorsements were disrupting his routine.

Larsen had a 10-4 record and 3.74 ERA for the Yankees in 1957. He pitched in 27 games, 20 of them starts.
He picked up a win in relief in Game 3 of the 1957 World Series against the Milwaukee Braves. The Braves won the Series in seven games. Larsen won another game in the 1958 World Series. He slipped to a 6-7 record in 1959 and the Yankees traded him to the Kansas City Athletics in the deal that brought the Bronx Bombers Roger Maris. Larsen had an 8-2 record pitching for the Athletics and Chicago White Sox in 1961. Pitching for the San Francisco Giants in 1962, he won Game 4 of the 1962 World Series pitching in relief of Juan Marichal.

Larsen had a career 4-2 World Series record and 2.75 ERA. He was a two-time World Series champion. Larsen had a 4-8 record and 2.27 ERA for the Houston Colt 45s in 1964.He pitched for the Orioles in 1965, toiled in the minor leagues in 1966 and hurled the final four innings of his big league career in 1967 for the Chicago Cubs. Larsen pitched briefly in the minor leagues in 1968 before retiring.

Larsen was a good hitting pitcher. He finished his career with a .244 batting average and 14 homers. He was used as a pinch hitter 66 times and once had a stretch where he had seven hits in a row. There were many legends at PNC Field this past Father’s Day, but Don Larsen really stood out standing and staring in the corner of that dugout.

The master of the only World Series perfect game on a perfect day.

UNICO Chapter Honors President

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Keystone Chapter of UNICO National recently conducted its annual Presidents’ Dinner.  At this time, recognition awards are presented to members who have been most effective in fundraising for local charities. Certificates are awarded to members who have completed their term of office. Additionally, the incoming president, officers and directors are installed for the new UNICO year.

The evening began with a cocktail hour social with hors d’oeuvres followed by the evening’s program.  Mark McDade welcomed all present and introduced outgoing James Mack for his last duties as President of Keystone UNICO.  Ann Summa gave the UNICO Invocation with a moment of silence for deceased Charter Members Joseph Gentile and Leonard Verrastro, who past away this year.  Sgt. at Arms Ray Tropeano led the attendees in the pledge of allegiance which was followed by a moment of silence for our current and past service men and women of our Armed Services.  Secretary Marilyn Vitali reported on last month’s minutes and Val Riggi gave the treasurer’s report.  This was followed by the installation of the incoming Officers and Directors by PA II District Governor Mark McDade.

President James Mack awarded the Distinguished Director’s Service Awards to Tom Carlucci, Ernie DeStefano, Carmela Iannetta, Joe Michalczyk, Peter Noto, Joe Sadowski, Ray Tropeano and Marilyn Vitali.  This was followed by the presentation of the “Service Above Self” Award by President Mack to Catherine Bianchi, Ernie DeStefano and John Mecca for their outstanding leadership in fundraising for Keystone Chapter’s designated charities this past year.

After a sumptuous buffet provided by Pat and Mike Catalano and their staff at Al Mia Amore the program continued with District Governor McDade presenting the Chapter’s President’s Service Award to President Jim Mack for his successful term as leader of and representing the Keystone Chapter UNICO this past year.  At this time, Jim also received his Past President’s Pin from his and the Chapter’s First Lady, Mary Mack.  In turn, Mary received a beautiful bouquet of assorted spring flowers.  Jim gave a memorable farewell speech and was then cheered by all present.

Past UNICO National President Glenn Pettinato was on hand to install John N. Mecca as the fourth President of the Keystone Chapter.  Glenn presented John with the ceremonial gavel and with Mary Mack holding the bible John Mecca pledged his oath of office.  Mary then pinned John with the same President’s Pin that had been worn by the three prior presidents.  With a very moving and emotional presentation, John gave his acceptance speech which was received with a standing ovation.

The evening came to a close with Sandra Collins giving the UNICO Benediction.