Angelo Masullo, W-I-N-N-E-R
Winner is a noun which describes
"one that seems destined to win or be successful." That's how Webster's
New World Dictionary of the American Language defines the
In Brookline, natives simplify it
by breaking down their interpretation to two words. Ange Masullo! By
contrast, Ange pleads ignorance to any knowledge of another Webster noun -
Vince Lombardi is a sobriquet
applied to Ange Masullo, earned because of so many successful seasons in
Brookline Little League's American Legion in the '70s and the Senior
League's Stebbrook Pharmacy in the '80's. Also under Masullo,
Resurrection Grade School's proud Raiders provoked shudders among their
South Hills basketball rivals in their heyday under the reigns of "Big
The late Vince Lombardi's
oft-quoted "winning isn't everything, its the only thing" doesn't stir a
flicker of interest in Ange Masullo. Big Ange never tracked the wins.
If the league kept records, he would stand in the upper echelon of Little
League greats, alongside Joe Power, Walt Evans, Jack Henry and Bob
That doesn't faze Ange. "I never
kept count of wins. That was never the important thing. My teams didn't
worry about winning, we just never thought about losing."
Losing was never an Angelo Masullo
Forced into an early retirement by
an on-the-job injury, Ange has devoted his life to youth and his
community, in which he takes so much pride and is so eager to
"I remember my days on the Hill,
where our parents didn't allow us to play football and some of the other
tough stuff," Ange recalls, "so we had to sneak. Chink Affif (he boxed as
Young Zivic and was a topnotcher in the 1950s) and Guido Leone (a traffic
cop) kept us off the streets and out of trouble. We rode streetcars to
our games, sometimes trucks and cars, when we could get them. Played our
home games at Washington Park."
"I remember breaking a leg sliding
into third base. They hustled me to the hospital. My dad, who came from
the old country after he married mom, walked into the room and I was
soaked with sweat, fearing what he'd say and do. He let me off easy, but
let me know he didn't like me sneaking around playing
Ange married his neighborhood
sweetheart and moved to Brookline in 1957. Chance meetings in 1967 with
Sam "Big E" Bryen and Walt Evans sparked Ange's interest. Angelo Jr, "Little Ange", was at Little League age
and little Joey, later a speedball with Quaill's and the Brookline Lions, was almost ready. With proud mom Millie
and elder sister Pam as the cheerleaders, the man noted for his gruff
bark signed on with Tony Colangelo and never looked back.
Ange put his no-nonsense approach
to work, and although it has provoked parents and kids, over the years
they have realized that his demand for discipline "before even talent" is
what makes winners and good citizens of their sons and daughters. The
winning seasons soon began rolling in.
Wistfully, Ang recalls his
Washington Park athletic days in the Hill District. I played with Tony
Bartirome, the ex-Pirate trainer, Bobby DelGreco, Corky Albert, Ray
Budway, Joey Petraglia, oh just so many guys who went on to more
important things. Great gang. But for Chink Affif and Guido Leone, who
knows...we might have been in all kinds of trouble. They gave us
discipline and love."
Angelo Masullo Sr. (back
right) and his 1973 Legion squad, the first in a long line of title
Big Ange spent 33 years with the Brookline Little League
In 1970, Ange replaced Bud
Vietmeier as manager of Little League's American Legion. Almost annual contenders followed.
Legion won championships in 1973 ("the year we discovered
Ray-Ray Benvenuti",) 1976 and 1981 under Masullo's wing, and were runners
up several times. Among the boys he remembers as the "good ones" are
Jimmy DelGreco, probably my best; Benvenuti, who could do it all; Johnny
Lee, who had the most "unorthodox pitching delivery I've ever seen";
Eddie Hartman, Mark Bazari, Carmen Tripodi, Mark Sciulli, Kevin Price and
"oh yeh, don't forget the girl I had, Donna Caterino, MVP in the Robinson Township tournament
Masullo took three Brookline
Little League All-Star teams into the Williamsport tournament, with the
1974 team advancing the closest to the state semi-finals. The years
were 1972, 1974 and 1977. The players he recalls as most
outstanding alphabetically and by year: 1972 - Eddie Beveridge, Rege
Carver, Georgie DelGreco, Jimmy DelGreco, Timmy "Crazy Legs" Schumacher.
1974 - Ray-Ray Benvenuti, Johnny Boyle, Clint "Bo" Burton, Timmy Gremba,
Brian Phillips. 1977 - Cathy Caterino, Eddie Hartman, Jim Herron, Mike
Joseph, Walt "Rusty" Miller.
Ange pulled double-duty from 1976
through 1980 by managing Legion and holding the position of Little League
president, the esteemed throne vacated by Sam Bryen after nearly a
During his tenure as head honcho,
the Brookline Little League entered a new phase with the building of
Danny McGibbeny Field and the Sam Bryen Baseball Complex. Under a 1966
agreement, the community sold the Communtiy Center, now Brookline
Park, to the city for $1 with the promise that a million-dollar
recreational facility would be built. The city stalled, and stalled some
more. It was the persistance of Masullo, and then Community Council
president Elva McGibbeny, who prodded the city to fulfill its promise.
When the 1976 season was threatened due to more municipal delays, Masullo
personally led the effort to get the Parks Department to
Again in 1980, when the city
cited funds shortages as their excuse for post-poning the final
development of the pool and Sam Bryen fields, it was Masullo and
McGibbeny who "persuaded" Parks Department head Louise Brown to find the
remaining $200,000 to complete the project.
There is no question in anyone's
mind that without the dedication of Big Ange, and his tireless
no-nonsense approach, that Brookline Memorial Park would not be the
first-class facility that we enjoy today. The thought of losing never
entered his mind.
Ange passed the presidency on to Ed
Motznik after the 1980 season and relinquished his Legion team to
newcommer Jack Kobistek after the 1981 championship season. In the years
immediately following, he devoted his time to his other coaching job as
leader of Ressi's Raiders.
Beginning in the mid-70's, Big
Ange's bellow could be heard echoing around the gymnasium at Resurrection
Grade School, were his sixth through eighth grade hoopsters were making
their mark as a Diocesan powerhouse.