Opening night. The AAABA Tournament. The combination always is special. But even more so during the 75th anniversary of the August tradition in Johnstown.
Defending tournament champion Martella’s Pharmacy won a back-and-forth game against a determined Youngstown Creekside Crocodiles team 7-6 in front of an estimated 5,500 fans at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point on Monday night, August 5.
Each team scored three runs in the eighth inning to set a 6-all score. Martella’s produced one more run in the top of the ninth and then held off Youngstown’s bases-loaded rally in the bottom of the frame to send the hometown fans home happy.
The build-up to the big game included the traditional Flood City Corvette Club parade with AAABA Ambassadors sitting in convertibles and greeting the fans. The 14 teams not playing in the night game followed Corvettes into the stadium holding signs touting their respective cities.
The Bomb Squad on the hillside above the stadium made its presence felt. Organist Rick Oswald entertained the crowd with his numbers.
Johnstown Oldtimers official Mark Critz emceed introductions and award presentations. Debbie Keiper Anderson presented Martella’s catcher Andrew Pasko with the second Ken Keiper Memorial Scholarship named in honor of her father, the longtime AAABA Tournament manager who led Johnstown’s Hahn Packing franchise to the 1956 AAABA Tournament championship round before finishing runner-up to Washington.