Player registration today
August 05, 2012 - Player registration is underway at the Holiday Inn in downtown Johnstown. Both local clubs, New Orleans, Zanesville, and Altoona have completed registration with Cleveland on deck.
George Arcurio, III - Johnstown Oldtimers
Johnstown Oldtimers' president George Arcurio, III talked with us about some of the changes for this year's tournament. One thing that's not changing, however, is a post-game concert by The Clarks on Wednesday night.
"We drew a very large crowd [last year] and our hope is that--if everything falls in place with the brackets--that we could have Johnstown playing Johnstown again," said Arcurio. Last year, the two Johnstown teams met in an elimination game on Thursday night with the popular Clarks playing afterwards, resulting in a sell-out crowd. "We want to educate the kids on AAABA baseball and there's no better way to do it than this. Where else can you go to see a number-one, first-class national tournament and get a first-class concert at the same time for $5?"
In addition to the post-game concert, Subway will have various giveaways through-out the week. No other promotions have been announced yet, as the Oldtimers are 'sticking to basics this year'.
The Pittsburgh Pirates' strong season may also help attendance at AAABA games this week. According to Arcurio, tournament attendance usually improves when the Pirates are playing well.
"It improves the attendance because it improves the spirit of baseball in the area," explain Arcurio. "It generates more enthusiasm for baseball and it has never hurt us, it's always helped us. We wouldn't be here for 68 years if people didn't love good baseball in Johnstown."
Ticket prices increased minimally from $4 to $5 for games at Point Stadium. Games at other fields remain free. Arcurio explained that the cost to operate the tournament has risen greatly over the years. The Oldtimers pay for meals and lodging for all of the tournament's players for the entire week.
An exciting change for this year is the use of Somerset High School for a game on Monday at noon.
"We're going to give it a try the very first day," said Arcurio. "We're going to see how the Somerset people respond, and hopefully the business community out there will support us in the near future. It's an experimental thing, but they have a beautiful field, it's well taken care of, and so we decided to give it a shot."
Roland Black, Johnstown (Berkley Hills Renegades)
First year entry Berkley Hills Renegades will represent host Johnstown after a strong regular season and equally strong playoff performance.
"Number one, I want [our players] to conduct themselves like men," said general manager Roland Black. The Renegades are in their 6th season and have finally come out from under the shadow of the Delweld / Martella's rivalry. "Our offense is just incredible. We have pitching depth and we have good defense, but our offense and our speed are our two strong points."
"You feel like [giving up]," admitted Black when questions about those earlier seasons when the team struggled. "But I just shut it down after a night and I sleep on things. I'm a competitor and it's not in me to give up, and it's trickled down to the players. They won't give up either."
The major change for the Renegades was the addition of coach Larry McCabe.
"He was the missing link," said Black. "I knew exactly what we needed, because the players were there, the administrative staff was there, the commitment was there, but we needed that day-to-day, x's-and-o's baseball guy that's committed and structured. There's none better than Larry McCabe in my opinion."
Chris Pfiel, Flood City (Martella's Pharmacy)
Martella's Pharmacy is back in the tournament for a fourth consecutive year, and third time as the Johnstown runner-up entry. Last year, they were the host entry, but lost to arch rival Delweld in the national tournament. This year, the Pharmacists finally eliminated Delweld in the semi-finals of the playoffs.
"We have a tremendous amount of respect for them," said Pfiel. "Chris Delsignore does a great job with that program."
In regards to their experience in the runner-up position: "You start with the same chance as any of the other 15 teams. Obviously it's not where we want to be, but there's pros and cons to it. There's a little less pressure playing the afternoon games. Hopefully we can get back into playing good baseball the way we did down the stretch and get on a roll for a couple of games."
In regards to the new Somerset field: "Somerset is a fantastic baseball town. They have a great American Legion program and a great high school program. I think it was a really great move by the tournament committee to go down here. Scott Klose, the athletic director down there, does a great job with the facility and the management of it. It's a first class operation from the minute you get there until the minute you leave."
Pfiel says that his team's strength is definitely their pitching staff. His offense has been inconsistent at time and his position players are mostly high school players, but he hopes his pick-up players will improve the offense for the week.