After more than ten years away, the Three Mugs Pub Moondogs made a triumphant return to the Lehigh Valley Men's Baseball League on Saturday in the LV MSBL Game of the Week.
Led by former LV MSBL President Ernest "Turk" Starniri, the Moondogs bested Dick Prue's Dodgers 11-2 in the LV MSBL season opener at Norman Rockwell-esque Hackett Park in Easton. It was the first game for the newly formed 55+ Division
While the other matchups on the MSBL docket were postponed due to weather, the sun shone on this one.
A Penny Saved
Scott Pennypacker tossed eight shutout innings to lead the Moondogs. He was backed by Dan Martyak's 3-3, which included 3 RBI, as well as two hits apiece from Matt Hanson and Kevin Reid.
"The difference was Pennypacker pitching almost a complete game in his first start of the year," Starniri said. "The Dodgers have always played well against us, When you have Dennis Ritter, Steve Ramer, Dave Morris, John Entwisrtle, and Don Robertson, you can expect a competitive game. Today was our day and Pennypacker pitched a gem."
Rich Wescoe helped keep zeroes on the board, one of two third baseman who provided exemplary defense. "The Moondogs' Rich Wescoe and the Dodgers' Dave Morris both gave a clinic on how to play third. Exceptional play for both," Starniri said.
A player since the innaugural LV MSBL season in 1988 and a coach ever since, Starniri also served as LV MSBL president from from 1997 to 2005, an 8-year stewardship that helped grow the league into what it is today.
In the innaugural season, the LV MSBL consisted of six teams who played 16 games each with games held Sundays at four fields: the Scheresville complex, Fullerton A.A., Ironton, and the Bethlehem Township municipal field. (See more league history here.)
The league has since grown to approximately 40 teams and 800 players per year with games played at dozens of fields including the most prestigious venues the Valley has to offer.
Stray 'Dogs Come Home
The Moondogs, who were the Diamonds from 1989 until taking the new name in 1996, are distinguished in charity work.
Moondogs representatives were a driving force behind the LV MSBL 50 Hours of Baseball event that aimed to raise at least $10,000 annually for local children's charities. In its 17-year run, chaired almost exclusively by Moondog Ed Bartholomew, 50 Hours of Baseball raised $240,000 for Camelot for Children and Dream Come True, according to Moondogs records. In the last 10 years, Moondogs charity has pivoted toward the Miracle Leage of the Lehigh Valley, which provides baseball opportunities for children with disabilities.
When Starniri's tenure as president ended, the Moondogs moved from the LV MSBL to try out out new competition. And after 13 years, the 'Dogs have finally come home.