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  • January 11, 2024
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After winning the North Schuylkill League Championship in 1965, MCA baseball suffered through 9 consecutive losing seasons. In 1975, Coach Ed Kaczmarek took over the reigns and immediately led the Tornadoes to an 8-8 mark in his first season. That was only the beginning as Big Red would go 13 – 5 in 1976 and 12 – 7 in 1977 and win two Northern Division titles, only to lose the championship series to Pottsville and Blue Mountain respectively. As the 1978 edition took to the field, they vowed to take it the distance. It would all come down to game three in a best of three series with Saint Clair, when the Tornadoes sneaked a run across in the 7th inning to give MCA a 3-2 victory and the Schuylkill League Championship.

Years later, baseball fans would remember that team as being Bob Zavarick and John Andrade’s team, but it was much more than that. It was Joe Zavarick and Bob McAndrew, who had a 6-0 records as a pitchers and Greg Filohoski, who would cross the plate with the winning run in the championship game. It was Ron Basso, who bunted to advance Filo into scoring position for Andrade’s game-winning hit. Mark Koveleski, Bob Murray, and Basso, formed as good an outfield as there was in the league. First baseman John Hancock produced three-hit games against North Schuylkill and Mahanoy Area. Filohoski and back-up Gary Marinelli held down the third base spot. Catcher Kevin Kwiatkowski was the leader from behind the plate, while Mcandrew, Joe Zavarick, and Mark Zosh handled much of the pitching duties. Rob Gergen, Ed Diminick, Ed Skonecki, Dave Hodrick, and Bob Sedor also chipped in with timely performances off the bench.

It was Bob Zavarick, however, who came in to pitch in the sixth inning of the championship game to shut down the St Clair offense, after only pitching six innings in relief during the season. And, it was Andrade who had the game winning hit. Together, they formed the best second base-shortstop combo in the league at that time. They both proved their worth with full-ride scholarships to the University of Maryland and Towsend State University.

The 1978 team caused writer Ronnie Christ of the Harrisburg Patriot News to proclaim that “baseball had replaced track and field as the premier sport at Mount Carmel Area.” Their 17 wins in 1978 were the most in school history at the time, while their 42 wins in the three year period from 1976-78 was the most ever until teams from 1987-89 won 44. The ’78 team has set the bar for all future baseball teams at MCA, and, until someone wins another championship, will stand alone at the top of the ladder.

Categories: 2008 Hall of Fame