UPDATED AUGUST 19, at 6PM (see Ferry)
UPDATED AUGUST 18, at 3pm (see Bevan)
UPDATED AUGUST 16 at 8PM (see Hlopak)
UPDATEd: AUGUST 14 at noon (see Booth)
UPDATED 7:30 PM
RELATED CATEGORIES: Gloucester City History
"Funny how the mind works. I don't have vivid memories of good plays ( if any ) that I may have made but I can remember the runners that I didn't throw out at the plate or taking a 3rd strike with the bases loaded." ~ Charles Knute Cogan
THIS IS THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 1954 Gloucester City Little League All Stars, who were the South Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland Region 4 Champions. The team was defeated by Millbury, NJ, who represented the North Jersey/ New York Region. They were two games from the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA
Top Row: Jim Wachter, Knute Cogan, Jake Miller, Stan Booth, Ray McCann, Bob Bevan, John Bartley, Jim Stubbs.
Bottom Row: Bart Rettew, Ed Hlopak, Tom Ferry, Matt Mullin, Albie Brandt, George Cleary, Reds Richards.
REUNION CELEBRATION-In 1979, The Boys of Summer aka Gloucester City Little League All-Stars 1954 team, were honored by the City Little League organization on their 25th Anniversary.
First row: (left to right) Bart Rettew (right field, Fathers Club), Tom Ferry (second base, Lions Club), Matt Mullin (catcher, third base, Rotary Club), Albie Brandt (catcher, Rotary Club), Reds Richards (pitcher/left field, Lightman Motors).
(Standing) Coach Jim Watcher, Knute Cogan (left field, Firemens), Jake Miller (first base, Lions Club), Stan Booth, (?, Fathers Club) Ray McCann (pitcher and ss, Rotary Club), Bob Bevan (position ?, Firemens), John Bartley (pitcher and second base, Lions Club) (Missing from photo) George Cleary (third base, Lions Club), Ed Hlopak (catcher, Fathers), and Manager Jim Stubbs.
CNBNews Note: We wanted to know the position each player played on the field. When we asked one of the old-timers that question, (wont say who) he gave us the player's positions as they appeared in the photo. O' well! It will happen to all of us sooner or later. Some much sooner it seems. We added the positions to the caption above, along with the name of the player's sponsoring team.
LOOKING BACK AT THE JOURNEY
GLOUCESTER CITY NJ—The 1954 Gloucester City Little League All-Stars, the team that was two games away from heading to the Little League World Series, Williamsport, PA, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Several members of the team will be getting together in September at a luncheon to reminise about that journey. Those that will definitely be in attendance are Knute Cogan, Ray McCann, Bob Bevan, Albie Brandt, Bart Rettew, Stan Booth and Tom Ferry. Not bad, eight out of 14 after 60 years!
Bart Rettew summarized what happened that year in the following article. Below the article several of the players shared their thoughts about that series of games.
Sixty years ago this summer, the little league all-star team from Gloucester City brought a great deal of excitement to the city and the surrounding area as they made a historic run towards the ultimate goal of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Although coming up two games short of Willlamsport, losing in the Region 4 semi-finals, for a period of four weeks there was quite a buzz and baseball fever throughout Gloucester City. The surviving members of that team are planning a 60th reunion luncheon this coming September in memory of that exciting journey.
John Bartley (Ocala, FL), Bob Bevan (Gloucester, NJ), Stanley Booth (Cocoa, FL), Albie Brandt (West Palm Beach , FL) , George Cleary (Thorofare, NJ), Knute Cogan (Ocean City, NJ), Tom Ferry (?), Ed Hlopak (Montgomery, TX), Gary Marcucci (Haddon Township, NJ). Ray McCann (Voorhees, NJ), Jake Miller (Medford, NJ), Bart Rettew (Mantua, NJ), Matt Mullin(deceased), “Reds” Richards(deceased). Jim Stubbs and Jim Wachter were the coaches (both deceased).
The tournament began at Runnemede with Gloucester getting off to a strong start beating Mt. Ephraim 2 – 0, Williamstown 14 – 0, and Runnemede 4 – 0. The combined pitching of Ray McCann and John Bartley resulted in three consecutive shutouts yielding only 5 hits in the three games. McCann also hit a pair of home runs during the series.
Moving on to the District II championship at Glassboro it took extra innings for Gloucester’s 8 – 7 victory to then move on to Audubon to meet District I, III and IV for the South Jersey championship. Gloucester then beat Burlington 3 – 1 on McCann’s 4 hitter and the beat Penns Grove 4 – 2 on “Reds” Richards 6 hitter.
Gloucester then traveled to Frederick, Md. for the South Jersey, Delaware and Maryland Sectional Championship. Once again, McCann was exceptionally strong pitching a 3 hitter with 13 strikeouts as Gloucester beat Stone Bridge of Essex, Md. 4 – 1.
Next the team traveled to Salisbury, Md. for the Region 4 Championship with the winner to go to Williamsport for the Little League World Series. Unfortunately for the locals, McCann couldn’t pitch against Millbury, NJ who represented the North Jersey/ New York Region because he had pitched the game against Stone Bridge. “Reds” Richards gave a good accounting and it took two days for Millburn to beat Gloucester because of a thunderstorm which forced play to halt on Thursday night and resumed Friday morning. Gloucester lost that eventful game 5 – 1.
Every player on the team played a significant role in the success of the journey. Eight of the 14 players batted .300 or better. The pitching was strong with McCann, Richards and Bartley. McCann, who members of this team believe was arguably the most talented ball player to ever come out of the Gloucester City Little League, was obviously the pillar of the team with his great pitching and strong hitting.
This is just a brief summary of the Journey. The original detailed articles were written by famed, local sports writer Walt Burrows and appeared in the Gloucester City News in July/August of 1954. They were reprinted and appeared again in the City News in July/August of 1999. Copies of those articles can be found at the Gloucester City Library.
Bob Bevan shares his memories:
The unbelievable support of the City. The experience of traveling to Maryland. We were a close-knit group/team who supported each other on the field and off the field. We grew up without cable T.V. or A/C but we had sandlot baseball which made us better players.
Ed Hlopak recalls :
- Jelling as a team and winning so many games under the pressure of single elimination
- The heroes Welcomes we received from the residents of Gloucester when we returned home from Frederick, MD after our victory, and again when we returned home from Salisbury, MD, even though we were not victorious
- “Two Tomatoes” The nickname we gave to Stan in Salisbury because, if my memory serves me, that’s all he ate from one of our dinners we were served in the College cafeteria
- The contributions that each and every member of the team made at various times in various games; we had a dominant player in Ray, but everyone contributed and made it a real “team” effort
- The miraculous come-from-behind, extra inning victory over Glassboro on their home field in an afternoon game in sweltering heat. Walt Burrows article on the game described how bleak it looked for the “Good Guys”: “…down 7 -6 with two out in the last regulation inning and nobody on base…” “… McCann … lined a single to center, moved to second on a balk, stole third, and scored (the tying run) when Clark uncorked a wild pitch within one pitch of winning the game for Glassboro.” The wild pitch came on a 2-2 count to the batter who struck out on the next pitch. What the article did not mention is the freakish thing that caused the balk. On a day that had to have been in the high 90s (the Glassboro manager had to be taken to a hospital after the game for heat prostration) and so still you could hear your heart beat, a gust of wind came up from nowhere, blowing the pitcher’s hat on his head during his windup. He stopped his windup to catch his ball cap and the umpire immediately signaled balk, advancing Ray to 2nd base and giving us the chance for Ray to steal 3rd and score on the wild pitch. I also remember hitting a pitch in the top of the 7th, putting my head down and running for 1st, hearing a noise and then the crowd noise and being told by the 1st base coach it hit the scoreboard (I never saw it do that) and was out of the park: not a walk-off homer, but the closest I ever came to it.
- The sadness of losing to Milburn in Salisbury
- The embarrassment of being told I had to go sit in the stands in an early inning of a game in which I was not even playing because the opposing manager (I think it was against Runnemede) filed a protest that I was not eligible to play for Gloucester because I did not live in Gloucester. After the game, Beryl Hetherington (sp?) contacted Williamsport and confirmed that a youth living in a city or town with no little league team could play in another town if his parent helped coach one of the teams, which my Dad did do on the Fathers Assoc team as an assistant to Joe Younkers.
My best memory is the friendships we made especially with my roommates Bart and Bob. Bart is still my best friend after all these years and a thousand miles apart. It was a pleasure teaching all their children and I look forward to seeing them again. Congratulations to Bob and Janet on their Golden Wedding Anniversary. We have two more years and I think Bart and Jerry’s is this January. God we are getting old. I still dream about what it would be like to play in the World Series with Ray and Johnny pitching.
My fondest memory is when I hit my only home run off of Knute. I guess I pissed him off because on my next at bat he drilled me with a fast ball square in the back. I think I deserved it. Still love you Knute. Like Knute, I peaked at 12 years old, my next year on VFW I was the official score keeper. Until our catcher could make a game and I had to catch Ray. He struck out 14 players in 6 innings and I landed in the hospital when an opposing player threw the bat and knocked me out. By the way, our first baseman had 14 put outs because I couldn’t catch Ray.
Cogan, had this to say about his memories of those days:
Funny how the mind works. I don't have vivid memories of good plays ( if any ) that I may have made but I can remember the runners that I didn't throw out at the plate or taking a 3rd strike with the bases loaded. O well, life goes on. One event that sticks with me as an indirect result of " The Journey”. I was applying for my first civilian job after I left the Navy. I was 26. During the interview, one of the questions I was asked was, ” what would you say was the highlight of your career to date?” I suppose he was expecting to hear tales of flying Navy aircraft over Viet Nam but my response was, ”when I was 12, I was on a little league baseball team that came within one championship of going to Williamsport”. His response was, ”So you peaked at 12.” I guess I did.
Of all the sports I ever played, three most memorable moments were the 1954 journey, and in 1956, 1957 playing with the Gloucester VFW (Bill Flynn) in two national championships. We won the whole thing in 1956 and missed repeating in 1957. Played with Ray on that team too.
As to 1954, not sure I ever appreciated at the time what we accomplished, this group of 14 ball players from a tiny blue collar town in South Jersey. Mostly what I remember about the playing is the pitching and hitting of Ray and John. When I replay the Salisbury loss, I often believe we would have won if John had of started that game and then Ray would have pitched the next game and we would have gone to Williamsport. Oh well.
The time we spent together practicing, playing and traveling were precious. Certainly way to many stories to comment on. But the best thing about the journey was the camaraderie and friendships we developed and, as a result of our getting together 60 years later, are still strong and everlasting today. I’m fortunate to see some guys like Bob Bevan almost weekly and others have not seen for many, many years and I’m really looking forward to the luncheon. Need to stop now, Gary said no more than 1000 words.
ETC: Back in the day every kid in Gloucester City wanted to play Little League Ball. This turnout of kids (pictured) is typical for the start of the baseball season. Some of those who are in the photos above also appear in these two pictures. For example, you'll find (kneeling) in the front Bart Rettew, Matt Mullin and Albie Brandt. Click to enlarge.