Junior Legion Team, Now Senior Citizens, Remembers 1973


by Kim Heisler Slonaker

Those of us who are old enough to remember 1973 all have different memories. 

For example, some of you may be thinking about the top grossing movie of the year, “The Exorcist," while others are remembering the top song, which was Elton John’s “Good-bye Yellow Brick Road," even though Hip Hop was also born that same year. Others may be reminiscing about watching the top television shows:  “All in the Family," “The Waltons," and “Sanford and Son."  

While wearing platform shoes, bell-bottom jeans, plaid, paisley, or tie-dyed shirts, we bought gas for 40 cents a gallon, milk for $1.40 a gallon and Oreos for 59 cents a pack. The most popular names were Jennifer and Michael. We didn’t have Smart phones, but the hand-held cell phone was invented, weighing in at 2 ½ pounds.

A group of former teenagers who are now senior citizens recently remembered 1973 in a special way. The 1973 Pine Forge Jr. Legion Team gathered at the Douglass Berks Township baseball complex for Pine Forge Athletic Association’s (PFAA) Opening Day Ceremonies. Following the introduction of the current athletes, PFAA honored the 1973 team on the 51stAnniversary of their 1973 Jr. Legion State Championship. 

PFAA President Richard Zuber (wearing the original jacket that was given to all players and coaches upon winning the State Championship) introduced the players from that team who were present; Todd “Scrufty” Slonaker, Leon Sendecki, Rowan Carter, Pete Madeja, Donnie Weller, Brian Moatz, and Steve Steinmetz. He also recognized those who were unable to attend the ceremony: the late Scott Harner, Mark Lessig, Doug Trainer, John Myers, Steve Baro, Randy Mest, Rick Hartman, Mark Nuscher, Bobby Kish, and Mark Lucas. Zuber noted the coaches for the team were the late Merle Harner, the late Marvin Harner, and himself.

“Oh my goodness, look what we started,"  Zuber remarked, looking to the outfield to see the hundreds of players who are now involved in the Pine Forge program. Sendecki commented, “I have great memories of playing baseball at Pine Forge for Skip Trainer, Merle Harner, Marvin Harner and Rich Zuber. They taught us how to play the game the right way and to have fun!” 

Slonaker noted, “I am very proud that many of the players from our 1973 team are still connected and enjoy sharing their old stories. I also loved playing for Merle Harner, and I learned so much from Merle, about baseball and about life. I was fortunate to play for and with Rich Zuber. Rich has been a great mentor, and we are all very proud of Rich for what he and the PFAA boards have accomplished in the last 51 years.”

The players were recipients of current Pine Forge swag, including jerseys, t-shirts, and hats. They also received Certificates of Achievement. Following the ceremony, the team gathered for lunch to continue to share stories, catch up on life, and talk about when they can get together again. 

Following the official events the 1973 teammates met at Spunktown Tavern to reminisce.
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