Flashback: RVL All-Stars vs. Tri-County All-Stars - July 1987
The below article was kindly provided by resident league historian and researcher, Keith Babula, manager of the Burlington Mets baseball club and previews an all-star game between the RVL and Tri-County Leagues back in 1987.
Diamond Luster Baseball Stars To Come Out Friday In Battle Between Leagues
By Marc Narducci, Special to The Inquirer
Posted: July 15, 1987
Baseball bragging rights will be at stake Friday when the the Tri-County League and the Rancocas Valley League meet in their first annual all-star game.
The all-stars will represent the two men's amateur baseball leagues in the Camden, Gloucester and Burlington County area.
The game will be played at Burlington Memorial Field in Burlington City and will begin at 7:30 p.m. The game originally was set for June 27th but was postponed because of rain.
There are 11 teams in the Rancocas Valley League, including nine from Burlington County. The two others are from Cherry Hill and Northampton, Pa. The Tri-County League consists of 10 teams - seven from Camden County, two
from Gloucester County and one, Delran, from Burlington County.
Most of the participants were high school stars. Many are either playing
college baseball or had successful college careers. And a select few use the leagues to display their skills to major-league scouts.
But the majority of the competitors are involved for a simple reason: a love of baseball.
"I wasn't ready to pick up the softball bat when I retired from pro ball," said Pete Dempsey, 30, of Pennsauken, a star in the Rancocas Valley League who will play Friday. "This still gives me a chance to enjoy the game. I won't get extra pumped-up for the all-star game because I enjoy playing any game, but I think it's good for baseball in South Jersey to have this event."
Dempsey, whose Cinnaminson team is sponsored by the Kardon Auto Mall, is a 1975 graduate of Pennsauken High School who played three years for Temple before signing with the Phillies in 1978. He played in the Phillies organization for three years - 2 1/2 in Reading and a half-season in Oklahoma City. His final two years were spent in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor-league system.
Dempsey has been playing in the Rancocas Valley League for the last five years, since his retirement in 1982.
The league is considered a notch above the Tri-County League. It is a league that is dotted with numerous players who went through the rigors of professional baseball in the minor leagues. The all-star game is a showcase for the upstart Tri-County League, which hopes to demonstrate that the talent gap between the leagues is being closed.
If anybody has a handle on the strengths of the two leagues, it would be catcher Rick Santarone. The former New York Yankees minor leaguer plays in both leagues - for Vincentown in the Rancocas Valley League, and for Cherry Hill in the Tri-County League (the rules permit players to participate in both leagues). Santarone, a star at Cherry Hill High School East and Camden County
College, played in the Yankees organization for two years before suffering a career-ending elbow injury.
It is not unusual for the 27-year-old Santarone, who lives in Mount Laurel, to play five games a week in the two leagues. He says the Rancocas Valley League is his top priority, and he will represent Vincentown in the all-star game.
"I think both leagues are pretty competitive," said Santarone, who is an assistant baseball coach at the University of Pennsylvania. "The pitching in the Rancocas Valley League is a little better. The defense is basically the same, but the RVL has more depth in pitching and power hitting."
The top Tri-County all-stars include Tom Troost, 22, of Cherry Hill, and Fred Bianculli, 21, of Washington Township, former star infielders at Glassboro State College. Tim Walsh, 22, of Voorhees, an Eastern High graduate who recently graduated from Colgate, leads the pitching staff.
Besides Santarone and Dempsey, the Rancocas Valley League's roster includes two accomplished pitchers, Mike Behrend, 26, of Willingboro, formerly of the St. Louis Cardinals system, and Jeff Gyamarti, 25, of Princeton, who played in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Gyamarti was reported to be unable to play in the game, however, because of a shoulder injury.
Both rosters were chosen by league managers.
RANCOCAS VALLEY LEAGUE ALL-STARS
Kardon Auto Mall - 1b, Pete Dempsey; 3b, Tak Upshar; ss Rich Damush; outfield, Jim Filotti; outfield, Bruce Carter; c, Todd Powell; p, Kevin Fynan; p, Mike Behrend; p, Don Enoch; p, Jeff Gyamarti; p, Larry Lewis.
All Star Sports - 1b, Steve Eager; dh, Lou DiPietro; p, Al Collins.
Burlington - 2b Bob Osborne; p, Darrin Kotch; p, Sanvo Porto.
Northampton - 2b, Scott Csaszar; outfield, Jeff DiPiano; outfield, Tom Rockhill; c, Rob Ricciani; p, Dink Burkhead; p, Mike Wieczorek.
Delran - 3b, Bob Gaskill; outfield, John Siemanowski; p, J.D. Paternoster.
Maple Shade - ss, Joe Catalino; p, Mike Brady.
Vincentown - outfield, Ansley Jessup; c, Rick Santarone; dh, Rick Lombardi; p, Steve Praino.
Bellmawr - c, Walt Dzierzgowski; 2b, Tom Troost; 3b, Fred Bianculli; ss, Bob Cleaver; outfield, Mike Basara; p, Steve Mondile; p, Buddy Blackiston.
Cherry Hill - outfield, Joe Davis; outfield, Steve Grizer.
Delran - ss, Mike Kean; infield, Jay Tiziani; p, Cory Satterfield.
Haddonfield - c, Ted Frangos; 2b Lee Deloach; ss, Bill Kohut; outfield, Nick Caputi.
Heights Blue Jays - 1b, Mike Malloy; infield, Juan Mandizabel; outfield, Bill Grubb; p, Glenn Leary; p, Bill Reese.
Hardenbergh - 1b, Mike Leise; outfield, Bill Hunt; dh, John Gardiner; p, Doug Whilley; p, Ron Arons; p, Ted Bickel.
J.D. Stars - dh, Pete Gwason.
Miller's All-Stars - c, Mark Masterson; 1b, Gary Madrack; 3b, Mike McLaughlin; outfield, Mike McKeever; dh, Joe Spinuzza; p, Tim Walsh; p, Lance Hudak.
West Deptford - p, Jim DeLucas.