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West End’s Winning Ways

What a fantastic sports year it’s been for so many teams from across our area. As we close out July and head to August, it’s always a lot of fun when we have local teams still on the diamond trying to play their way to a World Series. Congratulations to West End Babe Ruth’s 13-year-old All-Star team, who have already done just that and will compete at the Babe Ruth World Series in Glen Allen, Virginia. Lou Hunsinger has our cover story featured on page 4 as the boys will try to bring home West End Babe Ruth’s first World Series Title.

West End has had amazing success since 2005, with currently nine teams reaching World Series, 21 teams winning state titles, and appearing at Mid-Atlantic Regionals. This first number could be added to as both the 14 and 15-year-old All-star teams were competing at Regional Finals as I was penning my column. I must add here that I am a huge believer in West End Baseball, as my sons reached a combined four World Series during their playing days. My family saw parts of our great Country we would have probably never visited if it wasn’t for the great people that make West End Baseball possible.

They were special days as my kids were growing up that we shared with wonderful teammates, coaches, and families. I treasure the memories, especially the time spent with my Father during Jimmy’s first World Series run to Salt Lake City. Unfortunately, when Hunter made his World Series appearance in Lawrenceville, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville, my dad had already left us.

Incidentally, Jimmy holds a 3 to 1 advantage over Hunt on World Series appearances.

The Babe Ruth World Series experience was just the icing on the cake for the players and coaches who put in so much time and hard work. As I look back, the opportunity to learn baseball on the big diamond after moving up from Little League, and to play and make friendships with kids from across the West Branch Valley, are two of the most important aspects of West End Baseball.

I am a huge believer in both Little League and Babe Ruth and how they fit into a young baseball player’s life from the ages of 5 to 18.

West End Baseball is the oldest organized league for 13- to 15-year-old players in our Nation. It actually began in 1943 when Carl Stotz organized a league for his first players from what was to be the basis for Little League Baseball. It became known as the West End Boy’s Hardball League until 1976 when it then became West End Babe Ruth Baseball.

Now back to the great people that make West End happen.

Hitting leadoff in the lineup are Jim and Bonnie Winder. Jim is officially league president and Babe Ruth state commissioner. Wife Bonnie is officially league treasurer and secretary, but her duties cover so much more than that as she keeps Jim on track. For 41 years, the couple has dedicated their time and efforts to the league. That is truly remarkable, and a heartfelt thank you to both.

In talking baseball with Jim about West End past and present, he wanted me to recognize a long-serving group of volunteers that have gone above and beyond for the league in a multitude of ways.

First up is Mike Sharrow. Mike has been involved for 45 years with West End, all in regard to umpiring.

Next up are George Lepley, Tom Marnon, and Dale Diermeyer; all have been involved in the league for 27 years. George, whom I have known for many years, has managed both my sons during the regular season and World Series. He always made it as much about having fun and enjoying the journey as winning baseball games.

Dale has been a coach, security, manager, and player evaluation coordinator to Tom, who is taking a break from coaching all-stars this season as he recovers from surgery; he helped Jim with anything you can imagine.

Dave Cipriani has been involved in West End baseball as an umpire, manager, and coach for over 20 seasons and is tied with George with three World Series managerial appearances. Scott Niklaus and Mark Rogers also have been part of West End Baseball for 20 years. Jeff Heintzelman has 18 official years of service to the League as announcer and statistician.

It goes without saying that an organization is only as good as its people. The continuity created by having this long-time group of dedicated volunteers has provided the foundation for West End Baseball. It is also important to continue to add new faces to any organization, which West End is always looking to do.

In closing things out this week, Jim Winder is looking for donations to West End Baseball to curb the cost associated with reaching a World Series. It goes without saying everything costs more in the world we live in today. Whether it is your business, organization, or just an individual contribution, if you are interested in helping the team or teams, a check can be written to West End Baseball, 30 Eldred Street, Williamsport, PA 17701. If you have any questions, please give Jim Winder a call at 570-220-2570.

Good luck to all still playing!

God Bless America.

Jim Webb