Henry, Born, Moyer help make Tourney a success
By Bill Carroll
New Era Sports Writer
The New Era Midget Baseball Tournament celebrates its 50th anniversary this summer and one of the main reasons for the success of this annual event has been the behind-the-scenes work of three men who have been connected with the tournament in one way or another for most of the past half century.Charlie Henry, Bud Born and Bud Moyer have acted as the official Tournament Commission for the past 25 years or so, but all of them have been connected with the tournament in one way or another almost from the beginning in 1946.
“I played with a team called the Grandview Panthers in 1946,” recalls Born. “It wasn’t a tournament of champions in those days and we played four or five games all over the place before we got to the tournament quarterfinals.
“We had a pretty good team and we lost to New Providence, the team who won it, in the quarterfinals at Stumpf Field.”
Born, 62, went on to play varsity baseball at Manheim Township and Franklin and Marshall.
“If I remember right I think I umpired 17 or 18 championship games in the New Era Tournament ,” he says. “I think the first year was about 1959. I worked games until I became part of the Commission.”
The original Commissoners were Walter Foust and Leon Duckworth, who served the tournament well until ill health prevented them from continuing. Howard “Spider” Keller, who died in 1968, was the first chairman of the rules committee.
One of Born’s favorite memories was the 1970 midget-midget championship game between Washington Boro and Local 285, which had won the tournament two of the previous three years and three times overall and would win it two more times in 1972 and 1973.
Local 285 looked like a miniature pro team with perfectly matched uniforms and a great tournament tradition which made it a big favorite over Washington Boro.
“They didn’t even have uniforms,” Born recalls. “All they had were caps and t-shirts..”.
The year was 1970 and Washington Boro upset Local 285 2-1 behind the pitching of Craig Forney to win the midget-midget title. Born umpired behind the plate in that game.
Henry started umpiring in the tournament in the early years, became a commissioner and then chairman of the rules committee when Keller died.
“I’ll never forget George Kirchner coming to a game at Conlin Field in 1965,” Henry recalls. “He was in his last days. (Kirchner, the sports editor of the New Era who started the tournament ) died of cancer a month later.) He came down to see a game. The way he looked. But he was so wrapped up in the tournament . I can still see him standing there besides the bleachers.”
Henry has always believed that the New Era Tournament has been a strong influence on baseball throughout Lancaster County.
“It was the start of the midget program in Lancaster County” he says. “Kids were enthused about playing in the tournament . I’ve talked to mothers and fathers who told me how enthused their kids were.”
Henry is a minister and spends much time visiting the sick in hospitals.
“I can be in the General Hospital on visitation and people walk up to me and say, “Hey, New Era Tournament.’ That makes you kind of feel good.”
Henry, 80, is a native of Manheim and still lives there, and although he has always been fervently impartial, he admits remembering the first team from his home town winning the title – the Manheim Chix, who captured the midget-midget crown in 1951.”They were in the tournament quite often,” he recalls.The Chix lost in the finals in 1950, won in 1951 then lost in the finals again in 1952.Henry mentioned his respect for and friendship with Keller, who he succeeded as rules chairman.
“I was a great admirer of Spider,” he says. “We always worked close to him. If we had a (rules) problem we always went to Spider and he took care of it.”
Despite his position as a key member of the commission, Henry is not adverse to chasing foul balls at games.
“I do that for several reasons,” he says. “First of all it helps to speed up the game. Secondly, it gives me a chance to look at the ball to make sure it’s not damaged. Thirdly (and probably most important) it gives me a chance to get out among the people.
“Last year a kid walked up to me and said, “Is it your job to chase foul balls?” About five minutes later another kid walked up to me and said, “Hey, are you the owner of the New Era ?’ So I went from a foul ball chaser to the owner of the New Era in five minutes. I thought that was great.”
Moyer remembers driving to towns throughout the county to umpire in the early days of the tournament .
“I can’t remember (specific) games or even most of the people,” Moyer says. “One I do remember was Charlie Siegel (Local 285 manager when that team won midget-midget titles in 1961, 1967, 1968, 1972 and 1973).”
Moyer credits Kirchner for launching the tournament .
“Before that there were no young boys who were playing baseball,” he says. “Before World War II, there was baseball in every town in the county. But after the war there weren’t too many baseball teams. They were playing softball.”
Moyer, who is 79, remembers the success of the Slaymaker’s Lock team which won titles in the midget-midget division in 1952, 1954 and 1956.
“I remember the Anderson’s Pretzels team was good,” he recalls. “And Hamilton. I used to umpire some of those grudge battles between Anderson’s and Hamilton.”
Hamilton won its first title in the midget-midget division in 1958, beating Slaymaker’s in the final. Anderson’s won the junior-midget title in 1964 after losing in the finals the previous two years. Hamilton won the J-M title in 1965 and Anderson’s regained the J-M title in 1966.
Moyer is amazed at how professional looking most of the teams are.
“When I go to the games,” he says, “I look at these kids and they have everything – uniforms, bats, balls. Everything’s organized. What a difference from when I was a little boy. We used to tape the baseballs. And these boys can play. I see plays some of these boys make and can’t believe them.”
It is men like Henry, Born and Moyer who have helped make the New Era Tournament a success. The have unselfishly donated their time and expertise over the years and everyone connected with the tournament owes them a debt of gratitude.