POTTSTOWN >> Bobby Shantz debuted a brand new pitch from his arsenal on Monday afternoon — one he never threw during his decorated career in Major League Baseball.
“I had to throw it right-handed,” said Shantz, 92, of delivering the ceremonial first pitch alongside Pottstown superintendent Stephen Rodriguez prior to the Trojans’ game against Methacton. “They wanted me to throw left-handed but I can’t get my arm up like I used to.
“I can still throw it (lefty), but I don’t know where the heck it’s going anymore,” he added with a laugh.
Shantz certainly knew where his pitches were headed during his memorable professional career, which began in 1949.
The Pottstown High School grad pitched for eight teams during his major-league career: The Philadelphia (1949-1954) and Kansas City (1955-1956) A’s, New York Yankees (1957-1960), Pittsburgh Pirates (1961), Houston Colt .45’s (1962), St. Louis Cardinals (1962-1964), Chicago Cubs (1964) and the Phillies (1964). Switching from starting pitcher to reliever midway through his career, the southpaw had a career win-loss record of 119-99 and earned-run average of 3.38.
His most memorable season came in 1952 when he was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. He won 24 games that season and helped the A’s to finish fourth in the league that year. To date, he’s the oldest surviving MVP in MLB history.
Shantz won eight consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1957 to 1964 (American League, 1957-60; National League, 1961-64) and was selected for the All-Star Game in 1951, 1952 and 1957. He appeared in relief in three games of the 1957 and 1960 World Series with the Casey Stengel-managed New York Yankees.
All his accolades and accomplishments aside, Shantz admits that one of his biggest accomplishments is having his namesake field to visit back home in Pottstown.
“I’m so happy that all of these people still remember me,” said Shantz, who now lives in Ambler. “I’m so glad that they asked me to come back here. It’s so nice of them to bring me back here year after year. I hope they keep asking me to come back.
“They do such a nice job on this field; it’s always one of the nicest ones I get to see.”
Methacton starter Josh Dubost didn’t debut a brand new pitch Monday, but his stuff proved to be plenty filthy enough.
Dubost limited Pottstown to just two hits across six innings of work in his team’s 10-1 win in a Pioneer Athletic Conference matchup.
The Warriors’ senior right-hander was popping the glove with a strong fastball then returning with some effective off-speed pitches to keep the hitters off-balance throughout his stint.
“I was hitting on a lot of fastballs on the outside corners,” said Dubost (6-0, 0.43 ERA), who tied a season-high with 12 strikeouts. “I was hitting my spots which made it pretty easy for me out there.”
With the result, Methacton claimed its seventh straight win and improved to 11-3 in the PAC (14-3 overall). Pottstown dropped its seventh straight and currently sits at 2-12 PAC (3-14 overall) with two games remaining.
With next week’s PAC playoffs looming, Methacton manager Paul Spiewak points to his three starting pitchers — Dubost, Ben Christian and Zack Griffin — as the guys who have gotten the team to this point.
“Josh has thrown a ton of big games for us,” said Spiewak, “and Zack and Ben have been just as impressive for us at this point. Come playoff time, those are the guys who give us a chance to be in every game.”
Dubost found himself in a dual with Pottstown starter Aidan Leh in the early going.
Then in the fourth inning, first baseman Christian broke it open with a two-run double to the gap in left-centerfield to make it 2-0. An inning later, second baseman Conor Smith blasted an RBI double off the fence then came around to score on an infield single by third baseman Demetrio Rodriguez in the inning to give the Warriors a 4-0 lead.
For the game, Kevin Trafford finished 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored to go along with a sprawled out catch in center field for the game’s final out.
Pottstown got a run back in the bottom of the fifth Dalton Mullen reached on an error to score Todd Schadler (pinch running for Cole Miller who was hit by a pitch) and make it 4-1.
Although pleased to see his team get a run back, Pottstown manager Geoff Thomas says the Trojans left a lot of meat on the bone. Pottstown stranded runners on second and third in the bottom of the first inning and struck out 14 times on the game.
“We’ve been in a lot of ball games this year,” said Thomas. “We just have to change the culture to learn how to close out games. We’ve got to learn that when things don’t go our way, we can’t let things spiral down from there.”
Leh turned in a solid outing but ran into trouble during the latter stages. He was tagged for seven runs on eight hits and four walks.