Doin’ Dunmore: A Field of Dreams For a Dad and His Son

baseball-picBy Steve Svetovich

Sometimes you just have to seize an opportunity. 

And on sunny summer day at Saint Anthony’s Park in Dunmore last month, a father and son had a chance to live a dream. 

The Dunmore Freedom League had a baseball game scheduled that day.

It started as an ordinary baseball game played between collegiate level players. 

And this scribe’s son Dylan was pitching for the Dunmore entry in the league.

But the team was one player short. And that is where this scribe fits in. 

My son Dylan, 23, has been playing in the Dunmore Freedom League for the past six years. The league is filled with mostly collegiate level players and beyond in their 20 and into early 30’s. There is one older player in the league, Charlie Terrery, Dunmore, who last played at 59.

My son Dylan always had a dream to play one competitive baseball game alongside his dad in the outfield.

Seeing the team was one player short, I asked Chaz Ehnot, the team’s manager, if he could use another player. 

So quickly this scribe was inserted into right field with my son Dylan on the mound in the second inning. With Dylan pitching, a ball was hit to the outfield which I fielded and threw to the cutoff man.

In the next half of the inning, I put on a helmet and came to bat against a pretty fast throwing collegiate level pitcher. I was batting in my first competitive game since my final Green Ridge Teener League game playing for the late Tony Miele in the 1970’s.

And with my old Rod Carew/Cecil Cooper batting stance, I squared to bunt, immediately pulling a muscle in the back of my left leg. The bunt attempt went foul.

Batting now with a pulled muscle, I dropped a bunt between the pitcher and first base on the very next pitch but was easily thrown out at first. I could not run due to the pulled muscle.

As the bottom of the next inning started, I asked to come out of the game due to the pulled muscle. But Dylan asked me to stay in, so he could play centerfield with me in right field. “I’ll cover for you, dad.”

And so I limped into right field with Dylan playing next to me in center field. “This is like Griffey, Sr. and Griffey, Jr.,” he yelled to me with a broad smile.

Another ball was hit my way which I limped to, fielded and underhanded to the cutoff man. Dylan signaled to me how many out there were with each out.

And after the third out he sprinted in while the old man tried running, but kind of slowly jogged in with a pulled muscle and noticeable limp.

The Dunmore team batted around and my turn came to bat again with a runner on first. My mistake was not telling the base runner to run on the first pitch because the only thing I could do with a pulled muscle was bunt again.

“Look for the bunt,” the opposing team’s third baseman yelled.

And so on the first pitch I laid down a nice bunt between the pitcher and first base again hoping for a sacrifice. The runner was not going on the pitch and he barely got thrown out at second. With me unable to run to first, the opposition turned a potential sacrifice bunt for me into a double play.

After that I was forced to leave the game with a pulled muscle, but not before a high five to my son.

It ended up as a two-inning stint in the field with two at bats. But I did not miss a pitch batting, did not strike out and did not make an error in the field. 

Not counting softball leagues, it had been more than four decades since I played a game of organized baseball. But this game meant more than any of them because I got to play next to my son.

It was always one of Dylan’s wishes for that to happen.

And for one moment of time on a sunny day in July, it was “our field of dreams.

Doin’ Dunmore: Dunmore Freedom League Gearing up for Summer Season

baseballBy Steve Svetovich

The Dunmore Freedom League (formerly Collegiate Summer Baseball League) has been going strong for over two decades now and this summer will be no different at Sherwood Park.

Charlie Ehnot returns as league commissioner for a 15th season. His son, Chas Ehnot, returns as a player-coach for a sixth straight year. Prior to that he played for several years in the league.

Chas Ehnot and Mark Simko, another former player in the league, return once again to coach one of the two Dunmore entries in the league.

Tyler Chulvick returns as a player/coach for the other Dunmore entry.

Honesdale will be another entry in the league. There is also a Mid Valley team.

“Right now we have four teams slated to play in the league,” said Chas Ehnot, “but we are looking to add more players and teams.”

Local baseball players 17 and older can play in the league. There is no maximum age limit, but players need to be very competitive to play. Charlie Terrery, still as competitive as the younger players, returns at age 60 as the oldest in the league. Most of the players in the league have played high school or collegiate baseball and are used to competition.

Those interested in playing can call Chas Ehnot at (301)503-0131.

“We are a very competitive league, but we also have a lot of fun,” said Ehnot. “My dad plans on getting back into the coaching side this year. He missed that part of it.

“This is a game. We should all compete, but have fun doing it. The game makes me feel a lot younger myself. We are trying to do the best we can for the kids here.”

Some of the better known players returning this season, said Ehnot, include Anthony Duchnowski, Dylan Svetovich, David Chromey, Chris Rinaldi, Corey Rinaldi, Tyler Fisch, Michael Villa, Corey Sullivan, Riley Sullivan, Alex Terrery, P.J. Mandarano, John Joe Gustin, Billy Keating, Justin Magistro, Zack McGinty, Harry Wildrick and Chulvick.

“The future of the league is in good shape,” said Ehnot. “We have reason to get more and more teams on the field.

“We have a lot of projects planned for the field. We are going to make some drastic improvements. We want to improve the playing surface. There are a lot of things we are waiting on. We want to insert new bases and rebuild the mound and the back drop.


“We want to keep the baseball field at Sherwood Park in great shape for years to come. We want this to be a top notch field in the area.

“And we want the field in use not only for us, but for the public. We want fathers and sons coming out to Sherwood Park to play catch and practice. We want it for everybody.”

Ehnot said the Dunmore Freedom League begins play Memorial Day weekend. Regular season games are played through the first week of August followed by playoffs. All teams are seeded in the playoffs. Semi final and championship final playoffs are slated to be best of three this season, said Ehnot.

Ehnot said the Dunmore Freedom League would like to add two more teams to its existing four clubs. He is encouraging local collegiate players and even older players to join. High school seniors are also eligible.

“This is a competitive league,” he said. “But there is a lot of fun between all the players involved. We look at it as a game to enjoy.

“We would love to have more teams and players. The Dunmore Freedom League at Sherwood Park is here to stay, so we would like to expand a little more. We can’t wait for the season to start.”

Doin’ Dunmore: Hall’s Biggest Crime is Omission of Crime Dog

Bybaseball hall of fame Steve Svetovich

There has been a lot of talk about the National Baseball Hall of Fame with the election of four players by the baseball writers and two by the Veteran’s Committee.

The group includes a pair of former New York Yankees, including Mariano Rivera, the all-time saves leader who was the first to receive 100 percent of the writer’s vote, and Montourville’s Mike Mussina who won 270 games in his pitching career. Mussina also pitched for Baltimore.

Former Seattle Mariners DH Edgar Martinez, a .312 career hitter, and late Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay, who earned Cy Young Awards with both teams, were also selected by the writers.

Former Chicago White Sox star Harold Baines and Big Lee Smith, who once held the career saves record, were selected by the Veterans Committee.

And that leaves the biggest question and the most startling omission.

What about the Crime Dog?

mcgriffIn his 10th and final year on the writer’s ballot, Fred “the Crime Dog” McGriff only received 39.8 percent of the writer’s vote, which was far short of the required 75 percent to be elected.

The Crime Dog hit 493 career home runs. That ties Lou Gehrig, a Yankees legend and member of the Hall of Fame. McGriff also drove in 1,550 runs and hit .284 over an 18-year career. He had a .377 on base percentage and 2,490 career hits.

He has more home runs than any player not in the Hall who is not suspected of alleged steroid use.

A five-time All Star and three-time Silver Slugger award winner, the Crime Dog hit 20 or more homers 15 times and 30 or more 10 times. He batted .300 or better five times and drove in over 100 runs eight times. He had seven consecutive 30-homer plus years from 1988 through 1994.

No MLB player hit more homers than the Crime Dog from 1988 through 1994. And that includes a list of players such as Ken Griffey, Jr., Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Juan Gonzales and Jose Canseco. With the exception of Griffey, all of those players were suspected of alleged steroid use.

And because the Crime Dog was 100 percent clean, he may have become a victim of his era with all of the inflated statistics of alleged steroid users. His stats just remained consistent.

And despite playing in the steroid era, McGriff, playing the game clean, led both leagues in home runs in separate years, the American League in 1989 and the National League in 1992.

He was born in Tampa, Florida. His mom was a school teacher and his dad an electronics repairman.

As a youngster, he hung out at Al Lopez Field where the Cincinnati Reds trained. He worked as a vendor at Tampa Stadium.

Nothing was ever fair for the Crime Dog. He was cut from his high school baseball team as a sophomore, but came back and made it as a junior.

After hitting a mammoth home run off Doc Gooden in a high school game he drew the attention of baseball scouts and accepted a scholarship to play for the Georgia Bulldogs.

However, he was drafted in the ninth round of the amateur draft by the New York Yankees in 1981 and signed for $20,000.

The great Don Mattingly had the Yankees first base position locked and was blocking the Crime Dog’s path to the big leagues. The Yankees traded him to Toronto in one of the most lopsided deals in MLB history. The Blue Jays had a star in the making.

McGriff emerged as a power hitter in the American League leading the circuit with 36 homers in 1989. Playing with the San Diego Padres, he then led the National League in homers in 1992.

mcgriff 2He played for six MLB teams from 1986 through 2004 and is credited with leading the Atlanta Braves to their only World Series title in 1995. He currently works for the Braves as a Special Assistant of Baseball Operations.

On July 18, 1993, McGriff was traded by the San Diego Padres to the Braves. He was the offensive spark plug as Atlanta finished 51-19 to overtake the San Francisco Giants and win a third consecutive NL Western Division title.

He hit a career high 37 homers and finished fourth in the NL MVP voting in 1993.

In 1994, he was hitting .318 with 34 homers when a baseball strike ended the season in August. He was MVP of the MLB All-Star game that season.

A year later, he was leading the Braves to a World Series title. He had a career high 107 RBIs and hit two big homers in the 1995 World Series.

McGriff’s nickname, “Crime Dog,” was created by sports broadcaster Chris Berman. It was a play on McGruff, a cartoon dog created by American police to raise children’s awareness on crime. McGriff is fond of the nickname.

For over a decade, the Crime Dog appeared in national commercials for Tom Emanski’s Baseball Fundamentals Training Videos.

Besides his bat, the Crime Dog was best known for those commercials.

A silent leader, he let his bat do the talking in 50 post season MLB games when he batted .303, with 11 doubles, 10 home runs, 36 runs and 37 RBIs.

A model of consistency, he also excelled playing for the Chicago Cubs, LA Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays at the end of his career.

The 1994 strike and a nagging injury in his final two seasons cost the Crime Dog the seven homers he needed to reach the magic 500 mark.

But he did it clean. No steroids. Class. Character. Professional. Clutch. And he had the numbers in both the regular and postseason.

Isn’t that what makes a Hall of Famer? The baseball writers failed on this one.  Now it will be up to the Veterans Committee to decide.