Catholic League Baseball

FRONT ROW: Nick Achille, Joe Toia, Jim Ferro, John Termini, Newt Boninio
BACK ROW: Coach “Sugar” Cipolla, Joe Magio, Moe Lago, (unidentified), Anthony Cipolla, (unidentified)

Michael Bushnell
Publisher


This week we visit the old Northeast ball yards just east of Montgomery Wards. Such was the scene when Northeast-based photographer Herb Harper shot this picture of the Assumption Parish School baseball team in 1949 or 1950. 


Local photographer David Remley was gifted boxes of negatives of Harper’s work including this gem which shows a “ragtag” team of Northeast kids who played for Assumption.


The Northeast News spoke with Jim Ferro, the kid in the middle of the front row without a uniform and asked him why he didn’t have a uniform like the rest of the kids. His response was pretty simple, “there wasn’t enough uniforms to go around,” he said. “So I played in jeans and a t-shirt. It was a great time to grow up as a kid. We didn’t realize how good it was in that time frame, growing up back then, that community made the difference of my life growing up, I had a great experience.” 


Assumption was part of the Catholic League, made up of teams from the various Parish grade schools that dotted the Northeast neighborhood back in the mid-twentieth century. 


Assumption, St. John’s, Holy Cross, St. Steven’s, all played each other on ball diamonds in the community, most notably the Northeast Athletic fields on the east end of St. John, across the tracks from Luce Luggage Company.

“In those days, everybody lived close, kids stayed outside to play, you didn’t have to worry about where you went, and you went home at dark,” Ferro recalled about growing up in Northeast.


We also spoke with Madalyn Achille King whose father, Nick Achille, is shown in the picture in the front row with Coach Cipolla’s hand on his shoulder.


After high school, Achille went on to barber school and had a shop on Independence Avenue and later, St. John across from Uncle Charlie’s Market at St. John and Cypress. 


“We could run all over Northeast from Garfield clear to Sunrise or to the high school,” said Achille King. “If something happened there was always someplace to stop along the way because everybody knew everybody.”


George Anthony “Moe” Lago, the tall kid in the rear of the picture, played first base and went on to play in the Ban Johnson league for LaPetina’s Funeral Homesfrom 1955 to 1959. He was the league’s MVP in 1958. 

In 1960, Lago was drafted by the Orlando Dodgers in the Florida State League. He moved to the Kokomo Dodgers in the 1961 season, finishing with a career high .272 batting average. 


Lago spent the 1962 season with the Greenville Spinners in the South Atlantic League and the Great Falls Electrics of the Pioneer League. Following the ’62 season, Lago returned to Kansas City where he remained active in the Ban Johnson league, coaching from 1965 to 1969. He was elected to the Ban Johnson Hall of Fame.


This has been an incredibly fun history item to piece together over the last week or so. We would like to thank local photographer and blogger David Remley for sharing the picture with us. Additionally, thanks to the Ferro family, specifically Jim Ferro, for sharing his memories about the old Catholic League. Also thanks to Madalyn Achille King for sharing her memories of her father Nick.

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