STATE COLLEGE >> MJ Weller couldn’t recall the last time he sat down at the dinner table with his son, Ryan.
And by no means was he complaining about it.
“These guys are at the practice field an hour before practice is even supposed to begin,” said MJ before Boyertown’s PIAA-AAAA Championship game against Plum at Penn State University’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Thursday. “They do it on their own. They’re the ones going in early and coming home late.
“They earned this.”
Sitting in the stands, preparing to watch Ryan — Boyertown’s starting catcher — in the final high school game of his career, a proud father was taken plenty back.
A 1987 graduate of Boyertown High School, MJ was the third baseman of the Bears’ 1987 Legion World Series Team. Also part of that squad was Peter Kurtz, the father of current Boyertown sophomore Noah Kurtz.
“The comparison is eerie,” recalled MJ, “both teams are very, very similar to one another. The Boyertown game from over 25 years ago is still put into play today. It’s amazing to sit here and see.
“Small ball — getting the hits when they’re needed. Most importantly, it’s putting the ball hard on the ground. When you put the ball on the ground, things happen. All of that mixed in with some strong pitching means everything.”
And how would Ryan’s team stack up against his dad’s 1987 team?
“We could beat them,” said MJ, mixing a stern and humorous grin.
During MJ and Peter’s time at Boyertown High School, current skipper Todd Moyer served as an assistant to the Bears baseball team.
Peter deemed Moyer ‘a breath of fresh air,’ being only a few years older than those players.
“He was only a few years ahead of us, which made him really easy to relate to as a coach. That was refreshing for all of us.”
Now with a chance to watch his son play on a similar stage, Peter admitted the players should embrace Thursday, because it’s a memory that will live forever, much like that 1987 team.
“This is a once in a lifetime game for a lot of these kids,” he said. “There’s only one team that makes states and wins their last game. They can be that team.”
Jeff Pinder, father of Boyertown shortstop Mitchell Pinder, was part of two consecutive Junior Legion title teams with the Bear Cubs during the 1987 and 1988 seasons.
Moyer was also an assistant coach during Jeff’s time with the Bears.
Having a chance to watch his son compete for a state title has given the Pinder family to end a little unfinished business.
“Boyertown won the 1991 state title the year after I graduated,” said Jeff with a laugh. “It was great for them. The culmination of them working hard for all the years they’d been playing baseball — they deserved it.
“Same with this group,” he said of the current Boyertown team. “A lot of them have been playing together since they were six-years-old. Now they’re in a state title game. It’s special, not just for the kids and the parents, but for the parents who came up through Boyertown and played under Todd. It’s been amazing to watch.”
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