Altoona, Pennsylvania is the closest franchise to Johnstown, excluding the host city itself. The city made its name as a major railroad hub and is famous for the Horseshoe Curve that winds its way through the Pennsylvania hills. The city's minor league baseball club--the Altoona Curve-- takes its name from this landmark.
The Rail City has been competing in the AAABA since 1952, but it took until 1965 for the franchise to register its first win in Johnstown: a 5-2 victory over Baltimore at Roxbury. Altoona only appeared in 13 tournaments in its first 35 years. It lost 5 consecutive one-game play-in series to local rival Pittsburgh, and was later forced to qualify out of regionals nearly every season. Its only two regional championships during that time came in 1965 and 1966. The franchise compiled a 5-26 record in 13 tournaments from 1952 through 1986.
In 1977, the Johnstown Flood wreaked havoc on the traditional host city and threatened to cancel the tournament for the first time since its inception. Hard work and last minute arrangements by Altoona representatives enabled officials to move the national tournament to Altoona for the summer. As a sign of good will to the suffering folks of Johnstown, the Altoona club declined their role as host city and allowed Johnstown to retain that position. Thanks to the dedication of the Altoona staff, the flood-year tournament was a success despite all the hardships and returned to Johnstown in 1978.
Altoona was winless in the national tournament from 1980 to 1986. Then in 1987, Ron Fiochetta's LS Fiore General Contracting team brought Altoona into national contention. The franchise won 2 games in a single tournament for the first time ever with victories over New Brunswick and Lansing. LS Fiore represented Altoona 13 times in the next 15 years, amassing a 22-26 record. During that time, the club was national runner-up twice, first in 1994 (losing to Brooklyn) and again in 1999 with James Ronan III as manager (losing to Washington). The 1994 team set a franchise record of 5-consecutive wins before losing Brooklyn twice in the championship. The 1999 club faced and defeated host Johnstown twice, winning by scores of 16-6 and 18-6.
In 2002, Johnston Realty became the face of Altoona in the AAABA. The team collected 10 wins in 9 tournaments, with 7 wins going to manager Kurt Farabaugh. Johnston Realty's best finish was 4th place in 2008 after a 3-0 start.
Today, the Greater Altoona Baseball League's AAABA Division has 4 teams and fields a strong team each season. In addition to competing in the AAABA, Altoona has hosted 44 regional tournaments and has won the regional championship11 times.