Dunmore Pony League Team Wins Big in Championship Game

By Steve Svetovich

Memories are often created by youngsters on a baseball diamond.

Take the case of the Ackourey and Turel Pony League team in the Dunmore Little League.

This group of youngsters came into the Dunmore Pony League Tournament as underdogs this past June 27.

Coached by Mark Levendoski, the boys had a 12-5 regular season record entering the Pony League Tournament. The team defeated Eastern Residential Solutions 6-2 in the first round of the playoffs. Then after a bye, the team faced the undefeated 3 Jacks Bar and Grill in the championship game. The 3 Jacks team was 16-0 and the favorite coming into the game.

But the Ackourey and Turel Pony League team, a group of youngsters between 6 and 8, rose to the occasion and easily beat the favored team, 16-2, to capture the Dunmore Pony League championship. 

“I can’t even single one player out,” said coach Levandoski. “Every player on our team had multiple hits. They kept hitting and hitting. It is just a great group of kids who all get along with each other. They are all students at Dunmore Elementary Center.”

Levandoski is assisted by coaches Mike Coleman, Chris Bantell, Ashley Lancia and Luke Coleman, a former college baseball pitcher.

“It is coach-pitch, so our kids really rocked Luke Coleman, a former college baseball pitcher, who was pitching to them,” said Levandoski, a 1998 Dunmore High School graduate who works for Schiff’s Food Service, Taylor. “We were kidding him about that.” 

“The kids were all excited after we won. They were presented with medals and all had pizza at the field after winning the games. It was an all day tournament. They really enjoyed it.”

Levandoski said most of the youngsters will be playing fall baseball in Dunmore starting in early September. “They are looking forward to it already,” he said.

This was Levandoski’s second year coaching the team. He has been involved in the program for the past five years.

“All of the kids played great during the tournament,” Levandoski said. “They were all hitting and making the plays. These kids are all friends in school. They are all good kids and love playing the game. They get along well.”

Levandoski said the kids were so excited after winning the championship that they poured water all over him. “Yes, I was soaked. But it was all good. The kids were happy and having fun.”

Team members include Marcus Levandoski, Michael Coleman, Jack Coleman, Kate Coleman, Connor Sciartilli, Brady McCarthy, Hunter Smolskis, Carter Bantell, George Siracuse, James Archer and Hannah Scanlon. 

The graduating members are Marcus Levandoski, Connor Sciartilli, Hunter Smolskis and Michael and Jack Coleman.

“The graduating players kind of led the way for us this year,” said Levandoski. “They got us going.” 

Levandoski said the graduating players will go on and play in the Dunmore Minor League which consists of 9-10-year-old youngsters. After Minor League, the kids progress to the Dunmore Little League.

“These kids will just keep on playing and having fun,” he said. 

Svetovich to be Inducted in NE Chapter of PA Sports Hall of FameĀ 

Dunmorean sports editor Steve Svetovich is being inducted this fall into the Northeast Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. 

The longtime Dunmorean writer received his induction letter last month. One member of the media is selected each year.

Bob Walsh, Dunmore, is president of the Northeast Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. There are 32 chapters throughout the state.

The induction ceremony will be held Sunday, Oct. 24, at Fiorelli’s, Peckville. Cocktail hour for family and friends will be from 5 to 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 6 p.m. 

“I am thankful to the committee members for this honor,” Svetovich said. “Writing and sports have always been my passions in life. I thank my publisher John Hart at The Dunmorean for allowing me to cover Dunmore for the past 31 years. I always loved Dunmore. I thank my late mom and dad for always being supportive of my passion. My mom gave me my initial push and my dad continues to read all my stories.”  

Svetovich, a resident of Dunmore, will go in with eight other members. The late Bill Terlecky will receive the service award, with his son representing him.

Born and raised in the Green Ridge section of Scranton, Svetovich is a graduate of the Green Ridge Little and Teener Leagues. He received the Butch Miele Memorial Award upon his graduation from the Teener League. He is a graduate of Saint Paul’s Green Ridge Basketball League. 

Son of Stan and the late Ellen Svetovich, he is a graduate of Scranton Preparatory School and the University of Scranton where he received a bachelor of science degree cum laude in social sciences with a minor in communications. He later went on to receive a bachelor of science degree in occupational therapy from Misericordia University.

During his teen years, Svetovich worked as an official scorer and team statistician for the Scranton Red Soxx of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL). He worked under coaches Gary Ruby, Jerry Valonis and the late Bill Howerton. 

He served as a coach in the Green Ridge Teener League for one year and was an official scorer for the Scranton Tavern League during his teen years. He also delivered the Scrantonian Tribune for 10 years.

Svetovich started covering sports at age 20 as a stringer for The Scranton Times, working under the direction of late sports editor John McCormick, past president of the Northeast Chapter of the PA Sports Hall of Fame. It was McCormick who hooked Svetovich up with the Scranton Red Soxx.

The longtime scribe also covered all high school sports for The Pennsylvania Athlete newspaper from 1982 through 1996.

Svetovich did free lance sports work for The Dallas Post, Abington Journal, The Wayne Independent and The Times Leader. 

In 1986, Svetovich interviewed Pete Gray, the only one-armed position player in Major League Baseball history. The recorded and published interview earned Svetovich an award from the United Press for best sports story in a small market in Pennsylvania or New Jersey in 1986. The recorded interview and published story are both in the library of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. where Svetovich received a lifetime pass. The story was published in the Hazleton Standard Speaker and The Baseball Bulletin, a national monthly publication. The recorded interview was featured on WARM Radio. 

Gray was interviewed by Svetovich on the back steps of his Nanticoke home. Svetovich kept a close friendship with Gray until his passing over a decade later. He also assisted “This Week in Baseball” in doing a segment on Gray. 

Svetovich also did a recorded interview with the late Jim Crowley, one of the famed Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. 

Svetovich worked in 1986 as a sports editor for The Potter Enterprise in Coudersport. He worked as a reporter for The News Eagle in Hawley and contributed a sports feature story every month to The Baseball Bulletin, a national monthly baseball publication, until that newspaper folded. 

He then went on to write for The Scrantonian Tribune where he toiled from late 1986 until the newspaper’s eventual demise in 1989. He served as a general assignment reporter and occasionally assisted sports editors Jack Seitzinger and Guy Valvano. He later became the Dunmore and Clarks Summit correspondents.

He then went on to work for The Sunday Sun where he served as sports editor and Dunmore correspondent.

Svetovich quickly hooked up with The Dunmorean in 1990 working under owner/publisher John Hart for the past 31 years. 

Svetovich, currently sports editor for The Dunmorean, writes a human interest column and a sports column, Dishin’ Dirt, for The Dunmorean. 

He has also written for other newspapers owned and operated by John Hart over the years. Those publications include The Mid Valley News, The Scranton Weekly, and The Paper as well as several other newspapers. 

Svetovich credits his editors at the defunct Scrantonian Tribune for helping to develop his journalistic style. He particularly credits the late Doug Miele, the late Ray Flanagan, Joe Pesavento, Lew Marcus and Valvano. 

He also credits the late McCormick and late columnist Joe Flannery of The Scranton Times for helping to develop his news writing skills. 

He credits Sandra Buzas, his eighth grade teacher at North Scranton Junior High School, and late novelist Gilbert Sorrentino, a professor he had at the University of Scranton, for helping him to develop his writing style.

He is thankful to John and Maureen Hart, the owners and publishers of The Dunmorean, for allowing him free reign with his stories and for their friendship and support during the past 31 years. 

Svetovich coached baseball in both Green Ridge and West Scranton for 15 years at every single level from t-ball to the college level. He also coached biddy basketball. 

Svetovich has also been a home health occupational therapist for the past 27 years and currently works for Comprehensive Home Health Care Services, Dupont. 

Svetovich has written over 5,000 stories throughout the years. He has met and interviewed the likes of Mike Schmidt, Mike Hargrove, Claude Osteen, Bill White, Gaylord Perry, Luis Tiant, Bill Giles, John Felske, Tom Foley, Pete Gray, Jim Crowley, Moose Krause, Davey Jones of The Monkees, George Burns, Barbara Eden, The Drifters, Bob Friend, Dick Groat, Ed Ott, Elroy Face, Phil Rizzuto, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Gary Sanchez, Johnny Van Zandt of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Don Larson, Tommy John, Derek Jeter, Luke Sewell, Mike Kreevich, Howard Johnson, Joe Grzenda, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Chris Snee, and Dick Tracewski, among others.

His favorite interviews are those he conducts with the students of Dunmore and Holy Cross High Schools. He helps choose an Athlete of the Month as well as a Dunmorean of the Month for each issue for The Dunmorean. He also conducts the interviews and writes those stories. 

He remembers the words of legendary Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons who he met at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. He introduced himself to Gammons as a small town writer. 

Gammons responded, “There is a little small town in all of us big time writers, but there is also a lot of big time in the small town writers.”

Svetovich has a brother George and sister Denise who are always there for him. 

He is most proud of his two sons, Dylan, 25, a former high school basketball player and college baseball player who has an master of science degree in health care administration from Marywood University and is a pharmaceutical sales representative, and Ryan, 22, a guitarist with The Sperazza Band and an accomplished songwriter/musician who produced his own CD under the name of Ryan Sal. 

“My sons will always be my legacy in life,” Svetovich said. “They mean the world to me.” His sons will be his escorts at the induction ceremony. 

Doin’ Dunmore: Bucktown Music Fest Kicking Off This Month

By Steve Svetovich

Ready for the music, fun and dancing? 

The anticipated Bucktown Music Fest will kick off at Dunmore Corners on four Sunday evenings July 11, July 18, July 24 and August 1, all from 5 to 8 p.m,

Admission is free. Those who attend are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to sit and relax, enjoy the music and dance in the streets.

Dunmore Councilman Tom Hallinan, former Dunmore Mayor Patrick “Nibs” Loughney, and local Dunmore musician Brian McGurl are chairpersons for the event. 

Dunmore Borough is sponsoring the four Sunday evenings through a grant from the Lackawanna County Commissioners and donations from local businesses. 

“On behalf of Dunmore Mayor Tom Burke and Dunmore Borough Council,” said Hallinan, “we want to thank Lackawanna County Commissioners Notariani, Domenick and Chermak and the local merchants for their generous support of events. We will continue to accept business donations right through the Festival dates to help offset ongoing expenses.”

Opening night on Sunday, July 11 will feature music by the Luongo Brothers Band, Dunmore’s own Pat and Nick Luongo. The duo, formerly of The Poets, have been performing for decades. The Luongo Brothers will be joined by veteran favorites Alan Shield and Rich Marmo.

Sunday, July 18, will feature the Dashboard Mary Duo, the spinning grooves of the popular E.J. the D.J., and a special appearance from “Old Blue Eyes” himself in the form of Chris DiMatteo singing the hits of the late Frank Sinatra. Dashboard Mary features Dunmoreans Rob Roman and Joe Del Rosso who have been performing for the past three decades.

Sunday, July 25, will feature QBall with Dunmoreans McGurl and John Quinn along with Jim Davis and Bob Crossman. QBall plays classic rock, including the music of The Doors, Tom Petty, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones. 

Sunday, Aug. 1, will be a “Dunmore Musicians Family Reunion.” Young musical performers will come together for three hours at Dunmore Corners to play together and entertain the crowd. It will be a true celebration.

Dunmore residents have filled the rosters of many of the area’s top bands over the past seven or eight decades. The Shindig shows at Dunmore High School in the 1960’s and 1970’s were incubators for so many talented performers. The same can be said for Dunmore’s marching band and school talent shows, class nights and plays at Dunmore and Holy Cross High Schools. Many young performers show talent and promise which will be exhibited Sunday, Aug. 1, at Dunmore Corners.

“I think it is going to be a great night of music for the young and old,” McGurl said regarding the final event on Aug. 1. “Everyone is volunteering their time and talent and it is going to be a lot of fun.”

Bands, singers and musicians slated to perform the final night include the East Coast Trio, The Violet Sisters, Corner Pocket Blues Band, The Mesos, Dashboard Mary Duo, Pappa, Beckage, and Boylan; English, Tim McGurl, Janice Gambo, Katie Errico, Donna Polizzi Loughney, Luke Tinklepaugh, Emma Pasko, Julia Pasko, Lenny Carlucci, Mike Kwaitek, Dan Zayac, Paul Arduino, Len Nole, Jack Garvey, Kevin Regan, Mike Seamon, Joe Pannick, Marty Ort, Chuck Scrimalli, Brian McGurl, Phil Rossi, Mara Hennigan, Dan Cox, Jim Kernan, Dom Fortese, Rob Roman and Joe DelRosso. 

“I first thought about this while driving through Dunmore Corners one Sunday about 5 p.m.,” said Hallinan. “It looked desolate, like a bit of a ghost town. I thought it would be nice to bring some life back to Dunmore Corners. What better way than with music?

“Music would be the best way to bring people back together after months of isolation due to COVID. I ran the idea through Brian McGurl. He thought it was great and we ran with it. 

“Now Dunmore Borough can’t wait for all of the music and entertainment. It’s going to be a lot of fun at Dunmore Corners.” 

Dunmoreans Vito Ruggerio, Sally Judge and Jean Hill also assisted with the coordination of events.