1976 Brookline Little League Association

Boys Little League
Final Season Standings

American Legion

15

8

Quaill's Cleaners

14

8

B.Y.M.C.

11

9

Droz Steel

10

11

St. Mark's

7

13

Brookline Pharmacy

6

14

Second Half Standings

 

First Half Standings

American Legion

8

3

 

Quaill's Cleaners

8

2

Droz Steel

7

4

 

B.Y.M.C.

7

3

Quaill's Cleaners

6

4

 

American Legion

5

5

B.Y.M.C.

4

6

 

Brookline Pharmacy

4

6

St. Mark's

4

6

 

Droz Steel

3

7

Brookline Pharmacy

2

8

 

St. Mark's

3

7


* Playoff Summary *

2nd Half Playoff - American Legion beat Droz Steel, 11-1.
Championship - American Legion beat Quaill's Cleaners in three-game series, 2-0.
(Championship Series Scores: 11-6, 8-3.)

A Couple Photos of 1976 Little League Action
"A Base Hit and a Run Scored for B.Y.M.C. on Opening Day!"

featuring Chris Brendel and an All-Star Cast of Characters

The sequence of action photos shown here were sent in by Doug Brendel, an old friend, and in 1976 a member of the Denmark's Cafe Senior League team. They show a lot about what Little League, and Senior League baseball action was like back in the summer of 1976.

#1 - A Hard Hit Single To Get Things Started

Little

MAY 16 - Batter Chris "Fritz" Brendel, a 12 year old member of the B.Y.M.C. (Brookline Young Men's Club) team takes a fast ball from a St. Mark's pitcher on Opening Day and drills a line drive to left center. Long-time manager of the B.Y.M.C. team Joe "The Old Pro" Powers stands at his familiar post along the third base line. This was a special day for Joe Powers, as he was honored during the pre-game ceremonies for his 25 years of service to the league, along with another old-timer, umpire Bud Auen.

Other familiar faces in this photo would be umpire Jack "Stanky" Lombardi, wearing the "tools of ignorance" behind the St. Mark's catcher, ready to make the ball or strike call. Standing behind the backstop tarp, arms folded, is Mike Joseph, one of the best ballplayers to play in the Brookline Little League program, in his American Legion uniform. Standing behind the backstop fence, leaning on the concession stand wall next to the scorers table is another familiar face, John Wheeler of the Brookline Pharmacy Little League team.

Next to John, behind the scorer's table, obscured from view by the gentleman with his leg propped on the fence (Mr. Hamilton) behind third base, sitting in the spot usually reserved for "the father of the Brookline Little League" Sam Bryen, is Mr. Angelo Masullo. Ange stepped down in 1976 as the distinguished coach of the American Legion Little League team to take over as League President, replacing the beloved Mr. Bryen, who relinquished his post prior to the start of the season, after seventeen years of faithful service, due to a sudden illness.

Also notable in this first photo are the Senior League bleachers, freshly painted yellow for the new season, and the "Spirit of '76" red, white and blue garbage can, freshly painted in honor of the country's Bi-Centennial. On the Senior League field are the Brookline Lions, in the yellow caps, and behind the fence I can make out Carmen Tripodi in the red high-top Pro Keds. Also of interest is the round loud speaker, which had been used for years to announce the Little League games. I can remember how loud it was standing in the on-deck pad to the far left. People on the other side of Brookline Boulevard could sit on their porches and listen to the game progress! It was almost as good as being there.

#2 - At First Base ... Listen To Coach Burton

Little

Fritz now stands with his foot firmly planted on first base, awaiting a chance to take a lead or advance with the crack of the bat. Coach Jerry "Big Bite" Burton, Joe Powers assistant from 1972 through 1976. stands in the coaches box, surveying the situation at the plate. I can't tell who the players are for the St. Mark's team, nor do I remember the name of the umpire positioned on the first-base line. The St. Mark's pitcher, however, does show some nice form.

Watching the action from the fence are an interesting group of managers and players from yesteryear. I can make out Phaintin' Phil Sciulli (St. Mark's manager in light blue trousers), Ted Gielas (Sr League Lions manager, arms raised), Johnnie "Spider" Lee (Sr League Legion player in white t-shirt), Eddie "Spinach" Beveridge (Sr League McGaffins player in yellow shirt), Bud Vietmeier (former Lions manager in white trousers watching a fly ball on the big field), and Rich Anderson (longtime Droz Steel/Tony's Barber Shop coach in dark blue jacket and jeans.)

On the Senior side, the Brookline Lions are playing DeBor Funeral Home. DeBor is at bat and a pop-up appears to be headed over the short chicken wire fence for a ground-rule double. The two Lions outfielders have their eyes on the ball, as does their manager Ted Gielas, spectator Bud Vietmeier and the DeBor players standing near the fence along the third base line, next to the old corrugated steel dugouts. Of the several DeBor players standing near the dugout, I can make out Al Scalo (dark hair, no cap) and John Boyle (standing to his right.)

Also with his eyes on the ball is the notorious baseball scavenger Tommy Mooney (barely visible in his red hat and shorts beyond the wire fence). The Moondog, one of my teammates on Sr League Healthland, is set to scoot down the hill and retrieve the ball, adding another prize to his ever growing collection. Tommy, Doug, Mark Duglonski and myself, along with many other friends, used these balls for our daily afternoon pick-up games.

#3 - "Get Back to the Base "Fritz!"

Little

This photo shows mostly the same individuals, with two notable inclusions. George Kinzel (long-time Denmarks and Castle Tavern manager in the light blue shirt) is now standing to the left of Phil Sciulli, and next to him is Mr. Graham, whose son Donnie played for Gentleman Jack Henry's Quaill's Cleaners Little League team, the defending 1975 champions. Donnie Graham was another standout Little Leaguer who, when the 1976 season had come to an end in August, had claimed the home run title, banging twelve round-trippers. His true calling however, was on the football field. He went on to a stellar collegiate career for Joe Paterno at Penn State University, where he played linebacker.

All eyes are now on the Little League action as Chris Brendel scoots back to first base after what appears to have been a close play, possibly a line drive that found the glove of a St. Mark fielder. The first baseman looks prepared to take a throw in his direction, and coach Burton has a look of mild concern on his face. Phaintin' Phil is pointing towards second base in an obvious state of excitement. The first base umpire has his gaze fixed on first base, prepared to make a call if the throw comes that way, but "Fritz" arrives safely before any throw is made. Phaintin' Phil is possibly telling his fielder to hold on to the ball and not risk a bad throw. "Hold the runner!"

#4 - Safe At Second ... A Stolen Base

Little

"Fritz", always a base-running threat, steals second. The throw is close, but Chris' blazing speed puts him in a position to score! Look at the outfield grass, or should I say dirt. After many years of play, the three outfield positions were marked by large circular spots where the grass just would not grow. For years, the league tried seeding these spots, but with all of the field usage, the seeds never had a chance to take root.

#5 - A Base Hit Will Score A Run

Little

Young "Fritz" stands patiently at second base, waiting for the batter to hit the ball, or maybe a wild pitch, so he can advance to third base. All eyes are on the action at the plate, except for George Kinzel and Mr. Graham, now standing near the outfield fence, gazing out at what will someday be a new Senior League field.

Those of us who were around during the 1976 season, remember it as the season that almost wasn't, at least for the Senior Leaguers. This was the year that the new lower field was to have been completed and ready for use. For two years the city had been dumping landfill into the ravine to enlarge the park. Grading had been done and several feet of the old Senior League field was cut away during the process. The work stalled, however, and the new field was nowhere near complete. With the old Senior Field, which was always kind of short in left field to begin with, now "extremely" short and without a fence, the season was threatened.

Due to pressure from the community, the city finally acted and installed a new fence on the old field and added a high chicken wire addition. It was a quick fix to a bad situation, but we did get to play Senior League ball that year. The field was so short, however, that anything hit over the chicken wire was considered a double. You could hit rockets all the way to the boulevard and still got a double, or you could hit short popups that barely cleared the fence, easy outs on any other field, and still get a double. A good shortstop could practically play his position and play left field simultaneously. It made for an interesting season, with a lot of ground-rule doubles.

After Opening Day, the city began work in earnest on the new field, and by the second half we were playing on a new regulation field. It was quite an experience for most of us, as it was the first time we played on a such a large field. The open expanses in the outfield were quite novel, and the game of baseball took on a whole new set of dynamics. The triple, the inside-the-park homerun, and the gap shot, heretofore unheard of terms, became a reality, and for the first time since 1961, the Brookline Senior League was playing baseball the way it was meant to be played.

Now, back to "Fritz" and his quest to score a run on Opening Day!...

#6 - An RBI Double to Left Center Brings Our Hero in for a Score!

Little

At the crack of the bat, All eyes follow the ball on its way towards the fence in left center, except for young "Fritz" Brendel, who took off on his way towards home plate, waved on by The Wise Old Pro, Mr. Powers, who then turned to watch the outcome of the play in the field. Never taking his eyes off of his goal, #13 scored the first run of the 1976 Little League season. His team, B.Y.M.C. went on to win the game over Phaintin' Phil Sciulli and his St. Mark's crew.

Mr. Masullo, now visible among the throng of players now standing behind the backstop, announces the play. Although Big Ange had stepped down as manager of the American Legion team, his presence behind the scenes (mostly a bet for a free steak dinner, according to Legion player Gary Gielas) helped propel his former American Legion team (pictured further below on this page) to the 1976 Brookline Little League crown. But this Opening Day moment belonged to B.Y.M.C.'s Chris Brendel and his unknown teammate, who brought "Fritz" home with an RBI double.

#7 - Chris "Fritz" Brendel - 1976 Little Leaguer

Chris Brendel in 1976

These seven photos alone tell so much about how things were "back in the day." As I look closely at them, and all the characters shown, I can't help but think how much fun we had playing back then. It's hard to believe that it has been almost 30 years since I was a fourteen year old Senior Leaguer. The memories all seem so vivid, as if they happened only yesterday. Thanks to photographer Joe Brendel, and "Dugout Doug" for sharing these photos with us.

As for young Chris, he went on to play Senior League baseball with George Kinzel for Castle Tavern, helping lead the team to championship seasons in 1978 and 1979. Also a fine pitcher, Fritz tossed a no-hitter during the 1979 season. He went on to play in Colt League and American Legion, then went on to a college career with Gardner-Webb University and Slippery Rock. Chris finished his ball playing career in the softball work leagues of Southern Virginia. Today, he has joined the ranks of Little League coaches, like many of us "old-timers", passing on his knowledge and experiences to the next generation of youngsters.

A short post-script on the Wise Old Owl, Joe Powers...

Seeing these pictures of Joe Powers, especially the last one, really hit home with me. I played for Mr. Powers for four years. He was such a fine man, with a gentle demeanor, and a keen knack for getting the most out of his players. He was a true student of the game, and a great teacher for several generations of Brookline Little Leaguers. I truly loved the man, and to this day remember him with a fondness reserved for only a chosen few.

People called him the "Old Pro" because in his youth he had been a Minor League pitcher for many years, never quite making it to the Majors. During the second half of the 1976 season, Mr. Powers suffered a skating accident, which robbed him of many of his motor skills and took him away from the game that he had devoted most of his lifetime to, the game of baseball. It may have been only two years later that he passed away. This man touched the lives of so many of us youngsters.

The photos above are exactly the way I remember him, wearing a button-down shirt, with his glasses case and notepad in the chest pocket, and his gray hair protruding from his burgundy baseball cap. Our manager always had the day's batting lineup and fielding positions written in the notepad, and occassionally he would take out his glasses and write down some notes about the players on the other teams. He always seemed to know what to do, whatever the given situation, and being picked to play on his team was an honor and a privilege. I'm sure that young Fritz would agree. If there is Little League baseball in heaven, you can bet that Joe Powers is a coach, teaching the young angels how to throw a palmball.

Picture of 1976 American Legion Little League Team

1976 Little League Champions

Front Row: Frank Cambest, Mark McPeak, Chris Joseph, Mark Erickson, Mike Szewczyk.
Second Row: Gary Gielas, Mike Healy, Mike Joseph, Charles Tommarello.
Third Row: UNKNOWN, Jim "Buckner" Manning, Ed Hartman, Kevin "Little Biggy" Price, Jake Zucco.
Rear: Manager Gus Lannon and Coach Jay Malfatti.

For more information on American Legion's championship season, and a friendly wager between former Manager Angelo Masullo Sr and his "Bad News Bears", click here.

* Photo provided by Gary Gielas *


Legion Comes On Strong To Take Championship

Second Half Playoff

Legion spotted Droz a homerun by Tony DeMaio in the 1st inning, rebounded to score 10 runs in the 4th, survived a 30-minute rainstorm and scored one more run to record an 11-1 victory, which qualified it to meet Quaill's defending champions in the championship series.

Ed Hartman and Jim (Buckner) Manning belted two hits each while Kevin (Little Biggy) Price drove in two runs to spark Legion's victory. Price struck out nine as he recorded his 7th victory against only one defeat.

Hartman, who also walked twice, started Legion's big fourth with a single. Jake Zucco walked. Price singled and Charles Tommarello flied to right, where the fielder dropped the ball for an error. Gary Gielas walked and Mike Healy singled. After Szewczyk whiffed, Mike Joseph was hit by a pitch and Manning singled.

Carmen Cirigliano relieved Jim Herron and Hartman walked. Zucco also walked and Price got his second single of the inning before Tommarello grounded out and Gielas struck out. Legion's ten runs came on four hits.

Championship Series

Mike Healy and Mike Joseph slammed homeruns to lift surprising Legion to an 11-6 victory over Quaill in the playoff opener, with Ed Hartman striking out seven for the slab success.

Charley Tommarello drove in four runs with a 4-for-4 batting feat while Joseph, Jake Zucco and Kevin Price drilled two hits each. Steve Tripodi smashed a three-run homer, his 9th of the season, and Tim Tarr drove in a pair with two singles for Quaill.

Legion clinched the championship and dethroned Quaill as Kevin Price notched his 8th victory against a lone loss with an 8-3 conquest as Jake Zucco, Charles Tommarello, Mike Szewczyk and Mike Healy delivered the big blows on offense.

Don Graham clinched the LL homerun trophy by blasting his 12th with one on for Quaill. Don also singled and was the losing hurler.

* Reprinted from the Brookline Journal - August 19, 1976 *


Legion 1976 Regular Season Highlights

JUNE 15 - Mike Healy's two-out, bases-packed single in the bottom of the 7th gave Legion a 3-2 overtime victory over Droz. Kevin (Little Biggy) Price won his 3rd game in relief after Ed Hartman had flipped six as the Legion starter. Carmen Cirigliano was the loser in relief of Jim Herron, who had pitched six as the Droz starter. Legion had deadlocked the game at 2-2 by scoring in the bottom of the 6th. Tony DeMaio doubled and walked twice for Droz while Steve Quinn drove in both runs for the losers with a two-bagger.

JUNE 18 - Southpaw Shawn (Deadpan) Kelly ran his slab mark to 4-1 as BYMC hustled by Legion, 5-3. Chris Brendel scored twice and smacked two hits but Rusty Miller was the big gun for BYMC with a 3-for-3 night and two ribbies. Jake Zucco and Jim (Buckner) Manning smacked two hits each for Legion.

JUNE 22 - Kevin (Little Biggy) Price squirtballed his way to his 4th pitching victory as Legion tripped first-half champion Quaill, 10-5, despite Don Graham's homerun and single. Jake Zucco, Price and Mike Healy slapped two hits each for Legion. Healy scored four runs.

JUNE 27 - Manager Phaintin' Phil Sciulli's St. Mark crew finally put it all together behind Matt Wohlfarth's pitching (2-0) and the hitting of Luke (McGluke) Vietmeier and Mikey Hamilton to nip Legion, 4-3. Luke and Mikey rapped two hits each. Vietmeier also drew two free tickets. Mike Joseph homered to keep Legion in contention.

JULY 2 - Droz, with Carmen Cirigliano whiffing 11, made it 4-0 in the second half by slipping past Legion, 10-7. Andy Kalafatis drove in five, including three on a homerun. Tony DeMaio slapped three hits and Danny Fischer rapped two and walked. For Legion, Charley Tommarello, Jim Manning, Ed Hartman and Kevin Price rapped two hits each.

JULY 5 - BYMC, with Dan Schumacher providing the heavy hitting by driving in six with a grand slam and single, thumped Legion, 13-8, as young Dave Mangan ran his pitching record to 3-0. Walt (Rusty) Miller and Bob Matrascia also supplied a pair of hits to the BYMC attack. Ed Hartman drove in five and batted 4-for-4 to lead Legion. Ironically, he was the losing flinger.

JULY 9 - Legion dented Quaill hopes for making another sweep of LL title honors with a 7-3 victory despite eleven strikeouts by Steve Tripodi, who also walked ten. Charles Tommarello slaped three hits and Jake Zucco a pair to help the Legion cause. Don Graham socked two hits for Quaill.

JULY 11 - Hard-luck Brookline Pharmacy can't seem to win for losing and it was proved again as Legion battled back twice to nail a 9-8 victory in an extra inning. Trailing 7-3, Legion ralied in the last half of the 6th to tie. Then BP pulled ahead at 8-7, but Kevin Price delivered a two-run single in the Legion half of the 7th for the victory. Gary Gielas slapped a two-run homer for Legion. Price rapped three hits. Other Legion hitting stars were Jake Zucco, Gielas and Ed Hartman. Larry Meyer and Jim Raimondi singled twice each and drove in two runs apiece for the losers.

JULY 14 - Jim Manning and Ed Hartman shared a five-hitter as Legion spilled St. Mark, 5-1. By contrast, St. Mark pitchers Bob O'Malley and Vince DePippa yielded only three hits, two of them off the bat of Kevin Price. O'Malley and Danny Walsh slammed two hits each for St. Mark.

JULY 18 - Mike Joseph southpawed a three-hitter and fanned seven as Legion hurdled Brookline Pharmacy, 4-1. Joseph also was the hitting star, socking two singles and driving in two runs.

* Reprinted from the Brookline Journal - June/July, 1976 *

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