They Came From Pennsylvania
Blair County native Gene Decker started to play baseball in the Blair Twilight League. Then, a guy from Altoona came out to see him play in Woodbury. He ended up signing him up for an Altoona team in the City League. That was followed by getting involved with a team from Six Mile Run. "While I was playing for that league, a guy from Everett came out to see me play. That's how I got involved in the Pen-Mar League."
The Pen-Mar League was a semi-pro league which consisted of teams from Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia. "I started to play in that league in 1971. The guy, who got me involved with that league was Richard Crawford. We became very good friends."
He ended up playing with and against a lot of guys who had made the pros. They included Johnny Kruk, who was with the Phillies.
In 1995, a guy by the name of Joey Piotti got a team together to go down to Florida. It was called the Roy Hobbs Tournament. It was made up of guys 40 and over. "At the time, I think that I was either 58 or 59. I played in that and was seen down there by a lot of guys. I played with them up until I quit in 2015." He continues, "I played with them for twenty years, going to Florida, Phoenix, AZ, Vegas and all over the place to play ball."
There were a lot of former pros in that league as well. "A teammate of mine was Ron LeFlore and I played against Bill Lee, who had pitched for the Red Sox, and Bert Campanaris." He adds that no one could believe that I never had a sore arm. "I could pitch two days in a row."
Decker says that he can't explain his love of the game. He says that he just loves baseball.....
***To read the complete article, please check out the upcoming book release They Came From Blair County Volume Two due out by the end of 2021
***Information for this interview was obtained through an in-person interview with Gene Decker
***Photos for this article were provided by Gene Decker