Oldtimers hold first meeting after death of founder

The Oldtimers Bats and Balls Association met last week, but as member Tom McGuckin said, missing was “the heart and soul of this whole place.”

Chuck Newns was one of the founders of the Oldtimers, a group consisting of former athletes and officials that meets four times a year at Randi’s Restaurant & Bar, 1619 Grant Ave. in Grant Plaza II in Bustleton.

Newns, who controlled the luncheon meetings with his old referee’s whistle, died on July 3. He was 82.

Ron March, another founding member, described Newns as a “helluva umpire” for 40 years.

“Chuck was a terrific guy,” March said.

At the next meeting, the Oldtimers hope to welcome Newns’ widow, Phyllis.

At the Aug. 12 meeting, the Oldtimers were hoping to honor 16-year-old Mike Brodzinski, who saved an umpire’s life by giving him CPR during a recreation league game in Delaware County in June. However, the teenager could not attend.

Among those attending the Aug. 12 luncheon were Bobby Shantz, a former American League Most Valuable Player who’ll turn 90 on Sept. 26; Doug Clemens, a former Phillies outfielder; Joe Scarpati, a former pro football player best known as the holder for Tom Dempsey’s then-NFL-record 63-yard field goal in 1970; Skip Wilson, the retired longtime baseball coach at Temple; Sean Landeta, who punted for the Philadelphia Eagles and Philadelphia Stars; Immaculata assistant softball coach Holly Schell; and Dick Richards, a star football and baseball player at West Chester who is best known as the ori-gin-al drum-mer for Bill Haley & His Comets, whose smash hit was Rock Around the Clock.

Landeta, who also punted for the New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers, said Eagles coach Chip Kelly decided to part ways with several key starters in an effort to turn a team that won 10 games in each of the last two seasons into a squad that can challenge the Packers, Seahawks and Patriots for the Super Bowl.

Landeta said the Eagles secondary will have its hands full in the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, who feature wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White.

As for new Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford, Landeta believes that the team’s offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, told Kelly that Bradford is very good when healthy. Shurmur was offensive coordinator in St. Louis when Bradford was the №1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft.

One player hoping to back up Bradford is Tim Tebow, and Landeta reminded the Oldtimers that Tebow owns a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers when he played for Denver.

Landeta, who dated Marla Maples before Donald Trump, was even asked to comment on the controversial presidential candidate, whom he’s known for 30 years. He told the crowd that Trump has loved Philadelphia since his days as a student at Penn’s Wharton School.

“What he said about John McCain, I didn’t like,” Landeta said of Trump’s remarks about the former prisoner of war not being a war hero.

Still, “It’s pretty amazing he’s leading the polls. You’ve gotta give him credit.”

Clemens played in the major leagues from 1960–68, including his last three seasons with the Phillies. He and Shantz were playing for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964 when they were traded to the Chicago Cubs in a six-player deal on June 15 of that year. The Phillies blew a big lead in the National League standings, and the Cardinals went on to win the World Series.

“How could the Cardinals give up Bobby and me for Lou Brock?” Clemens asked jokingly about being traded for a future Hall of Famer.

The next Oldtimers luncheon will be at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 11. The club hopes to welcome the Phillie Phanatic.

Lunch costs $11. For in-form-a-tion on the group, call Ron Fritz (215–491–9380), Jack Purdy (215–968–0404) or Ron March (609–209–0849), or vis-it www.bat-sand-balls.org ••