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  • Sandy worries some in Valley of the Sun


    Lehigh Valley Moondog players kneel in prayer following a game at Maryvale. Many of the players come from Allentown, Pa. which was in the direct path of Hurricane Sandy.

    By Steve LaMontia, MSBLNational.com

    As super-storm Sandy ravaged the east, there were some very concerned ball players out West keeping one eye on the diamond and one on the storm.

    That group included several members of the Lehigh Valley Moondogs from Allentown, Pa., located about an hour north of Philadelphia and directly in Sandy's path.

    The Moondogs, one of six teams in the 60 Mountain wood bat division, put the storm out of their thoughts long enough to beat, ironically, Windy City by a score of 21-3 Tuesday at Maryvale.

    Any celebrations were short-lived as players thoughts turned quickly from baseball in Arizona to the weather back home.  "We have very mixed emotions," said winning pitcher Dan Waelchli (pronounced Wake-lee). "Now when we go back to the motel we pull up the weather channel and not ESPN.”

    "We had a good game but our thoughts and prayers are obviously with our families back home,” said co-manager Turk Starniri.

    "We stay in constant contact back there and thankfully our families are safe, though some of our properties are not. Yes, we feel a little bit guilty but we also need to take care of business here and hurry back home to help.”

    One of the Moondog players chimed in, "My wife's name is Sandy. I must have really ticked her off!”

    Co-manager Dick Prue might be the poster child for mixed emotions. "I am a roofing contractor and have had fifteen calls since this morning,” said Prue. "I'll be going back to plenty of work.” Prue also added, "My son is with me in the business and it took him an hour to get to work and it is a fifteen minute drive. There is water and debris everywhere. But we're still happy to be out here playing baseball.”

    After the game all of the players met at the pitcher's mound and prayed. Some took solace in the fact that players in this age division often have children or even grandchildren back home who are old enough to take care of things.

    Gordon Santee keeps the book, and the players, in line


    One of the feel-good Moondog stories is Gordon Santee -- scorekeeper emeritus. Santee is 83 years young and has been coming down with the Moondogs since 1993 and keeping them all in line. "My children and grandchildren know that this is what I love to do. I'll keep coming down as long as they want me around.”

    Santee does more than keep a book back in Allentown. This year he was named winner of the Fowler Founders Award from the Keystone Athletic Field Manager's Organization --KAFMO -- in Pennsylvania. That organization is dedicated to sharing knowledge about how to care for athletic fields -- including baseball fields. The Fowler Founders award is named in honor of Donald Fowler, retired Penn State Extension Agent, who is credited with helping to organize KAFMO. Award recipients are chosen because of their dedication to KAFMO and for doing their part in making a difference in the sports turf industry of Pennsylvania.

    KAFMO recognizes the facilities in the organization that have been dedicated to providing safe, playable conditions for their users regardless of the level of play.

      Editor's Note: We couldn't resist this comedic nugget which has been making its way through the World Wide Web:

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