The 1963 season was a magical time for Lou Romanoli and a talented team of Wilmington ballplayers.
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As the general manager of Village Printing, Romanoli (named Wilmington Jaycees Young Man of the Year in ’64) was in New Jersey on business when he read about Ray Narleski in a local paper. Narleski, who had World Series and All-Star experience while with the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians, was then pitching for a local Jersey team. The tenacious Romanoli tracked him down and persuaded him to sign on with Brooks.
Carpenter helped recruit fellow Yale grad Bob Davis, who had pitched for the Kansas City Athletics in ’58 and ’6o and was now studying for his doctorate in clinical psychology at Temple.
Romanoli found Jack Crimian pounding out fenders at John’s Body Shop in Wilmington. Crimian, a Claymont resident who is a story himself, had 15 years of pro experience, including Major League stints with St. Louis, Kansas City, and Detroit. He had retired four years previously and was 37 in 1963, but the stocky right-hander still loved baseball and knew how to pitch. He went 10-0 with Brooks in that championship season.
But perhaps the rookie manager’s biggest “get” was Harry “The Horse” Anderson, a left-handed power hitter who smacked 23 homers and batted .301 with the Phillies in 1958. His short professional career ended in ’62, after which the 32-year-old Anderson had settled into domestic tranquility in Westgate Farms. But with help from team owner Brooks, who had attended West Nottingham Academy with Anderson, Romanoli hounded the slugger until he agreed to join the team—eight games into the season. Anderson’s arrival in the league swelled the crowds at Brooks games. “Fans wanted to see Harry the Horse up close and personal,” says Romanoli.
Anderson solidified a lineup that was already imposing. Playing right field was the 23-year-old Carpenter, who had been Ivy League batting champion while playing for Yale. Catcher Vinnie Scott, also 23, was a near-legend at Salesianum before captaining the University of Maryland football team, followed by a tryout with the Baltimore Colts. He led Brooks in scoring.
Romanoli also snagged the league’s best shortstop, John Pfander, who was named the team’s MVP.
The player/manager, of course, handled the hot corner. A bit slow of foot but strong-armed, Romanoli batted .305, led the team in RBIs, and made the All-Star team.
The rivalry between Brooks and Parkway grew throughout the season, reaching a crescendo in those playoffs, which Brooks swept, four games to none. “A lot of people wanted to see someone else win the championship besides Parkway,” says Romanoli. “On the other hand, Parkway had built a fan base over the years, so they had plenty of people rooting for them.”