History

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In 1944 Glen L. Martin, an early pioneer in flight technology and founder of the Glen L Martin Company, the forerunner of Lockheed Martin gathered representatives from several major cities across the eastern part of the United States to form an organization called the All American Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA 'Triple A-B-A'). The primary goal of the organization was to promote the advancement of amateur baseball.  Mr. Martin backed his idea with his own money in the early years and, upon his death in December 1955, he provided a substantial donation to perpetuate the organization.

 

 

The Early Years...

Initially the amateur tournament was to be held for two divisions of play. A Junior division which was geared for teenagers, deemed the "Limited Division" and an open amateurs or an "Unlimited Division". The best of twenty-four teams from the North and South East Coast competed in the opening series in Baltimore, MD (September 7-12, 1944). Baltimore went on to win the first ever AAABA Tournament, establishing a precedent of future titles to come. In later years as the tournament grew the competition would focus on the younger level of play and became a Limited baseball tournament to showcase young amateur players.

The AAABA held its games in the city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania during August 22-26, 1945, when the city won a bid to host the tournament. And in 1946, the AAABA was moved to Harrisburg, PA., for they received that years bid to host the games.


The birth of the AAABA tournament coincided with a rebirth of the Johnstown Oldtimers Baseball Association. Created in the 1930's by retired baseball players to propagate the sport, and meet regularly to discuss baseball and to reminisce about old times. Walter W. Krebs, then editor of the Tribune Democrat newspaper and George S. Cooper, the sports editor for the company, attended an Oldtimers meeting in 1946. At this meeting, Cooper suggested that the AAABA be moved back to the city of Johnstown. Cooper's suggestions were readily accepted by the Oldtimers. The plan was set in motion by Krebs and he would underwrite the expense to bring back the tournament with Cooper at the helm. Thus in 1947 Johnstown would see the return of this sporting event. That started a relationship that has continued for more than 60 years between the Oldtimers and the AAABA and city of Johnstown. In 1993, the All American Amateur Baseball Association Board of Directors made Johnstown the official permanent home of the AAABA Tournament.

 

 Catastrophe Strikes, AAABA Continues...

Since 1947, only once has the tournament been moved outside of Johnstown. In 1977 a third catastrophic flood ripped through the city and would send the AAABA tournament games to the city of Altoona, PA, just 30 miles north. Although Johnstown was and continued to be the official host site and the Oldtimers the official sponsors, the games had to be played in Altoona due to the extensive flood damage suffered by the city.

 

Downtown Johnstown Just Blocks Away From Point Stadium - 1977

 

The AAABA has continued to be held each year in Johnstown for over 60 years because of the efforts of the Oldtimers Association. They continue to find ways to pay for the tournament every year and the many expenses that go along with it. In addition to their financial assistance, the Oldtimers organize and plan the tournament, a year round job that begins the day the previous tournament ends. And because of the fan support, people who have never watched a sandlot amateur game come back year after year to participate in the AAABA tournament. Baseball fans whose fathers brought them to the games now bring their children and grandchildren to carry on the tradition of the AAABA Tournaments.


In 1981, the tournament became more than baseball under the guidance of Oldtimers president George Arcurio Jr. and the groups secretary Dennis Grenell, the man who began “marketing” the AAABA as an event unto itself.

Arcurio is the first local official to be elected to a post on the AAABA national committee. Grenell soon became Johnstown's version of baseball entrepreneur Bill Veeck when he brought sky-divers, hot air balloons, fireworks, Frisbee-chasing dogs and major league team mascots to the Point Stadium. The AAABA now stands as one of the community's most important events, not only from an athletic standpoint but as an economic boost, as well.

Roger Tremaine, President of the AAABA, said in 1993:
“After 36 years in amateur baseball and involvement with many different amateur baseball programs, I feel that outside of the College World Series. this is the most outstanding amateur baseball tournament I have ever seen.”


Ironically, a Johnstown entry has never won the tournament that it works so hard to produce every year. However Johnstown has advanced to the Championship game four times (1956, 1995, 2001, and 2003), losing all four contests. The Johnstown franchise is still chasing down that elusive first AAABA National title.

 

Dynasties Emerge...

So attractive did the AAABA tournament become over the years that many franchises played in leagues that existed solely for the purpose of sending a team to Johnstown in August.
Powerhouse franchises would eventually emerge. Commonly known as “The Big Four”, Baltimore, Detroit, Washington, and New Orleans have established an impressive track record of success in AAABA play. Baltimore’s franchise, the equivalent of the AAABA’s New York Yankees, has won a staggering 27 AAABA titles including winning 5 straight from 1979 to 1983 and 6 straight from 2003 to 2008. Rich in talent, tradition, and managerial experience, the Baltimore franchise is consistently one of the finest amateur baseball teams in the nation.

Other teams such as New Orleans have become a Johnstown favorite, our adopted Home Team if you will. The Scheuermann family is largely responsible for this bond with the Johnstown people. Former Manager Louis “Rags” Scheuermann (1923 -1997)
RagsScheuermannObit(April1997).pdf   and his son Joe (former Manager) have made the annual pilgrimage to Johnstown since the 1950’s . New Orleans lays claim to an impressive 13 AAABA National titles.

 

 

Also rich in AAABA history, the Washington DC area franchise has been a staple of the tournament since its early days. Always armed with top talent, the DC franchise has won 10 titles including three in a row from 1997 to 1999. Washington has recently overthrown Detroit now laying claim to having sent the most players to the major leagues. Over the last 15 years, no other team has consistenly brought major league talent to Johnstown like Washington


Although the Detroit franchise no longer actively participates in the tournament, they have reached legendary status. Winning 7 titles overall, the first in 1964 and the last in 1978, the Detroit franchise has sent approximately 60 players to the major leagues. Again, even more impressive considering the team hasn’t participated in the tournament in nearly twenty years. Michael Adray, long time Detroit franchise sponsor, brought many high caliber teams to the tourney. Among his players were Steve Garvey, Orel Hershiser, Jim Abbott, Barry Larkin, Bob Welch, Jim Leyritz, and Chris Sabo.


Although a local entry has never won a AAABA title, there has been a victory every year in Johnstown, where the hospitality and friendliness of local residents does more for the city's image than any trophy.

 

 
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