Eli And The Old Gang - 1959
Here is a photo of Sam Bryen (front row second from left), known by many as "Eli", the Big E, or to four generations of Brookline children as just Mr. Bryen, along with the managers and coaches for the 1959 season at Little League try-outs in April. It was men like these who donated their time and hard work to shape the Brookline Little League Association into the best youth baseball league in the city of Pittsburgh.
Many of the men pictured were part of the original group of baseball lovers who formed the Brookline baseball program, and the rest are the second generation of BLLA pioneers. Several of them are no longer with us, and today, nearly half a century later, they surely look down from the heavens and marvel at the fruits of their labor. Thousands, probably tens of thousands, of Brookline children have passed through the program that they, with their bare hands, grit and determination, made possible.
How can we ever repay the debt of gratitude that we owe these founding fathers of the Brookline Little League Association? The best answer I can think of is by getting involved ourselves and carrying on the proud tradition that they themselves started. It's the least that we as adults can do for the children of our community.
The occasion of this particular photo was the first try-out of the 1959 season, which was cancelled due to inclement weather. The rain did not stop Eli and his crew from showing up, though, because they knew that the kids were depending on them, and that was all the motivation they needed to make the effort.
Pictured are: (lower portion of steps left to right) James Klingensmith, Sam Bryen, John "Lefty" Voelker; (back row left to right) Bud Auen, Pete Green, Walt Evans, Bill Schiebel; (upper portion of steps) Sam Blefere, Bill Neumann, "Smokey" Rossa, Jack Flavin, John Leaf and Norbert Winters.
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