The 2018 LV MSBL All-Star festivities – most of them, anyway -- were held Saturday, July 21, at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, home of the Philadelphia Phillies top farm team, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
In Game 1, the all-stars from the 18 and 25 American divisions defeated the team of all-stars from the 43 and 55 divisions by a score of 8-2.
Game 2 between the 18 Premier and 25 National divisions was rained out and the makeup is Tuesday, Aug. 7.
Here are nine more things to know about the All-Star festivities.
1. We raised more than $2,000 for Carson and he’s going to join the Phantoms
The Lehigh Valley Men’s Baseball League and its players and partners raised $2,238 for Carson, an 11-year-old boy who has brain cancer and recently lost his father. In a surprise gift, Carson will also join the Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey team on a one-day contract.
The LV MSBL and the Bethlehem Umpires Association raised the money for Carson via Dream Come True, an organization that serves ill children. The fundraiser started as an initiative to raise money for Carson's dream of attending the Great Wolf Lodge waterpark in the Poconos, but Great Wolf donated the waterpark trip so that all of the funds can go toward Carson's care and comfort.
Dave Rifkin of the BUA made the connection with the Phantoms to provide Carson tickets to a Phantoms game as well as a seat on the bench during warmups and the honorary one-day roster spot.
Carson received a $2,000 check in an on-field ceremony plus $238 more from a donation jar from the league’s inaugural father-son softball game.
There was a moment worth a chuckle when Carson was asked on the microphone to name his favorite sport. We thought he would say hockey because that’s what he has said before. But Carson instead said baseball which kind of detoured the introduction to the Phantoms surprise. Can’t say we disagree with the kid, though.
2. There were at least five former pros in the senior dugout
Chad Arnold of the Springtown Mudcats delivers a pitch during the 2018 LV MSBL All-Star Game. Arnold is one of at least five former pros who played in the game.
Some of the younger guys balked at the idea of the 18/25 age group against the 43/55 age group thinking it would be a blow out. They had no idea what they were up against.
The 43/55 side included at least five former professionals:
- Tim Brader of the LV MSBL Springtown Mudcats was a Detroit Tigers draft pick.
- Chad Arnold also of the Mudcats played in the independent Frontier League.
- P.J. Yoder of our 43 Hurricanes was a Mets draft pick.
- Gene Vincent of our Moon Dogs played in the independent Pioneer League and California League.
- Moon Dogs coach and new LV MSBL Hall of Famer Ernest "Turk" Starniri never officially took the field in a pro game but was in Pittsburgh Pirates spring training when he was drafted into the Vietnam War.
3. Mark Matthews of the Black Sox made an all-time amazing play
Mark Matthews of the Black Sox swings during the 2018 LV MSBL All-Star Game. Matthews would later make one of the most impressive catches that any MSBL player has ever made at Coca-Cola Park.
Leftfielder Mark Matthews made perhaps the most sparkling defensive play that any MSBL player has ever made at Coca-Cola Park. Hurricanes hitting machine Chris Beaver laced a drawing liner down the left field line that would have gone for triple or maybe even more.
Matthews however made a full-extension, parallel-to-the-ground, diving catch in fair territory, sliding head first into the warning track gravel in foul territory. Matthews opened a big cut on his arm yet held on for one of the greatest web gems in the 11 years that the LV MSBL has performed at Coca-Cola Park.
If anyone has photos or footage of that catch, please let us know!
4. Turk was inducted into the LV MSBL Hall of Fame
Ernest "Turk" Starniri of the Moon Dogs (left, in red) and Dick Prue of the Dodgers (22, in blue) participate in the ground rules huddle at the 2018 LV MSBL All-Star Game. Starniri and Prue were later inducted into the LV MSBL Hall of Fame.
The league founding member, longtime coach, former league president, and part of the greatest fundraising team in league history was inducted into the LV MSBL Hall of Fame.
Turk used his speech to recognize the importance of the team behind any individual achievement and named players and officials who deserve consideration for induction. The former Pittsburg Pirates farmhand was a player in in the LV MSBL in 1988 when the league formed, and he has coached his Moon Dogs organization in LV MSBL or other baseball organizations every year since.Turk is a six-time MSBL National World Series Champion and served as LV MSBL president from 1997 through 2004.
Perhaps his most distinguished mark is as a driving force behind raising more than a quarter million dollars for local children's charities, primarily though the 50 Hours of Baseball event.
5. Dick Prue was inducted into the LV MSBL Hall of Fame
MSBL National Hall of Famer, former LV MSBL board member and longtime player and coach Dick Prue joined Turk as a new inductee into the LV MSBL Hall of Fame just as he has on so many successful trips to Arizona.
Dick is a two-time LV MSBL Most Valuable Player, a one-time LV MSBL Pitcher of the Year, a six-time MSBL National World Series Champion in Arizona, and the owner of a .451 career batting average.
Dick, a roofer, father of two, and a grandfather of eight, acknowledged support he’s received along the way to make a life of full baseball possible, including support from his wife of 48 years, Karen, who stood by Dick’s side as he was inducted.
6. Power of Pink
Tom Chiusano of the Pink Sox scrambles in a run down during the 2018 LV MSBL All-Star Game. Chiusano also delivered a warning-track fly for the longest hit of the game.
Two Pink Sox players put on power displays in consecutive plate appearances. Matt Dennig laced an extra-bases blast that reached the right-center wall on a hop or two for the second biggest blast of the game, only to be bested immediately by teammate Tom Chiusano who batted immediately after Dennig. What looked like a homer for the slight outfielder reached the warning track in the air for a triple. "Farthest he's hit a ball all year," All-Star assistant coach and Pink Sox Manager Rick Orengo said. Good timing by Chiusano.
7. The Iron Pigs are awesome
The Iron Pigs demonstrated once again that they are tremendous community partners. Iron Pigs staff were gracious in letting us play Game 1 through a bit of rain on their beautiful field, and provided a makeup date for the second game before we even left the stadium. The compassion and fairness that the Pigs show to the LV MSBL in particular and to the Lehigh Valley community in general is not to be understated.
8. The first father-son softball game was a success
The inaugural father-son charity softball game, which benefited Carson, was a success. The fathers decided they wanted to defeat their sons instead of playing on the same team and it turned into a very competitive game with plenty of friendly ribbing. Jovial to say the least, and a great opportunity to share the pristine Coca-Cola Park field with even more participants. The fathers and sons also tacked a 10%-plus raise into Carson's jar.
9. It's not just the ballplayers
Melody Cruz performed "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" during during the 2018 LV MSBL All-Star Game. Knyla Delvalle also performed the songs.
The players and coaches are so focused on their games -- rightfully -- that it's sometimes easy to take for granted the surrounding happenings that make the LV MSBL All Star Game an event and not just a game.
Turk enlisted a military honor guard to present the Stars and Stripes as two dynamic singers, Knyla Delvalle and Melody Cruz, provided stunning renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Elvis impersonator and cancer survivor Andy Svrcek performed so well that some people debated whether he was singing or lip syncing (he was singing).
Recognition goes as well to sponsors Girls Gone Styled Salon & Spa, M&T Bank, Great Wolf Lodge, the Bethlehem Umpires Association, Hound Hunters of NEPA, Big Pixel Studio and vendors including The Painted Sun Studio Face Painting and Advanced Massage Therapy & Wellness Center.