ASTON >> The 33rd Joseph J. Barrett Memorial All-Star game featured defense, daring base running, clutch hitting, shutdown pitching and a score to reflect it all.
The Del Val All-Stars’ 5-3 victory over their Central League counterparts, ending a run of seven straight losses in the series, was the postscript on what turned into a postcard perfect Saturday at Neumann University.
Top it off with two $3,000 scholarships for baseball student-athletes and you had an event that would have made its late honoree wink, maybe even blush.
“He’d love this,” said Patti Langdon, Barrett’s granddaughter and chairman of the All-Star game committee. “He would love this. Knowing Pop-Pop, he’d want to umpire it.”
Langdon, a Neumann alum, proudly represented her grandfather, a Delaware County icon in baseball, basketball and officiating circles, presenting scholarship packages of $3,000 each to Andrew Todaro of Springfield and Deandre DePass of Penn Wood.
Shortstop Matt Daller was the game’s Most Valuable Player, and deservedly so. Daller went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer, two doubles and three runs scored, including the winner in the top of the ninth inning.
The Del Val squad included players from the Del Val League, Catholic League and Inter-Ac League.
Daller is the second Malvern Prep MVP in the series, joining shortstop Phil Gosselin from 2007. Gosselin spent five years in the big leagues, starting in 2013 with the Atlanta Braves.
“It was fun just coming out and playing with all these guys and being teammates with them,” Daller said. “I didn’t really know what to expect but this was awesome. We came in just to have fun. But we wanted to break that streak, that losing streak.”
Daller is headed to Rhode Island on a baseball scholarship.
While the new breed of Barrett game participants were born long after the icon passed away in 1985, on this day they became part of its rich history with Langdon and Tony Iacone, who organized the first game, and folks like John Spano, the longtime official. They’ve been to each and every game starting with the opener at Swarthmore College.
The game featured pitcher Rick Balabon (Conestoga), who became a first-round draft pick of the Yankees and Joel Johnston (Marple Newtown), who pitched in the majors for the Royals.
It was a day for friends and colleagues to remember Barrett.
“Joe liked cigars,” Iacone said. “It was me, Allen Thomas and Joe and we went outside so Joe could have a cigar at Walber’s (On the Delaware), which isn’t there anymore in Essington. So you know that was a while ago. We were shooting the breeze about sports, about anything, everything. He was just an amazing guy. You felt like he was your father. He was that kind of guy. You felt comfortable. The next thing you know it’s 3:30 in the morning and our wives are wondering, ‘Where the heck are they?’”
The game was decided in the ninth inning, although it also should be mentioned that Marple Newtown and Springfield players headed for the state tournament were held out of action, as well as Bonner players, also in states, for the Del Val stars.
Daller’s alert base running on third after a throw to first put the Del Val stars ahead in top of the ninth. Eric Stewart singled home the insurance run and Cardinal O’Hara teammate Isiah Hammond put the Central stars down in the bottom of the ninth.
It was one of the more enjoyable Barrett All-Star games for Spano, who has participated on some level in all 33, this one in a variety of capacities including dispensing T-shirts to the players.
“The only thing that’s changed over that time is the shirt sizes of the kids,” Spano said. “They used to like them XXL, XL and now they want to wear them tight.”
Tight also describes the bond of numerous volunteers who worked the game. From the umpiring crew of Mike Markunas, David Splain, Rich Mehosky, Tom Ellis, Mike Still and John McCullough, to the color guard and Brianna Fili, who woke up Bruder Field with a stirring National Anthem.
From Langdon and her volunteers, to public address announcer Joe O’Loughlin, who put the game into words.
Barrett would have loved it. Or, as his granddaughter said, umpired it.
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