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Newspaper Articles

The following newspaper articles have appeared  referencing the work of PNYBF and Baseball in Poland

Polish American Journal (July, 2015 Vol 104, page 1, 4)

STAMFORD, Conn. — Baseball in Poland is alive and gaining popularity every year. Ever since president and founder of the Polish National Youth Baseball Foundation, Stanley Kokoska, went to Poland in 1987, the boys and girls of that country have embraced the American sport of baseball.

The 15th Annual International Baseball Tournament was held in Dzialdowo, Poland in March, and over 200 children from Poland. Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Lithuania took part. The tournament was held in an Olympic Size Gymnasium in Dzialdowo and the children played and had their meals and sleeping accommodations in the school, all free of charge.

Those of you who know these countries know that they were all part of the former Soviet Union and are now independent countries. The children are poor and the tournament is a treat for them to travel and play baseball in Poland. The Polish National Youth Baseball Foundation is a major sponsor of these tournaments and has been since their inception. Thanks to the dedicated volunteers, who collect used equipment from U.S. Little Leagues and schools, this ample equipment is sent annually to fulfill the needs of the children.

Recently the PNYBF has sent equipment to camps in Poland, where English is taught by the TEIP program, sponsored by the Kosciuszko Foundation, all free of charge. Tom Krajewski is National Director of the Great Lakes Region; Stan Kokoska is New England’s director; and Al Koproski handles the lower Connecticut area.

If you would like to help collect equipment or promote baseball in any way, please contact Al Koproski. The PNYBF needs your financial help to pay for shipping the equipment to the children. Please contact your clubs and organizations for help. All donations are tax deductible, as the Foundation is a 501-C-3 not-for-profit all volunteer organization.

Please send donations to: PNYBF, 222 Ocean Drive East, Stamford, CT 06902. Al Koproski can be reached at (203) 323-9944 for more information.

Polish American Journal - Cieradkowski Book (July, 2015 Vol 104, page 10)

This article is about a book written about major leagurers and some players of Polish descent

Cieradkowski Book is a Baseball Gem
His love of baseball and his late father inspired Gary Cieradkowski to talk to about his passion for the sport in a blog, a set of cards, and now a book. The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes, is a beautiful and unique contribution to baseball history.

Cieradkowski is an award-winning graphic artist and illustrator whose work has included Bicycle Playing Cards and graphics for Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The native of New Jersey was born into a family of what he refers to as “third generation New York Yankees haters.”

This book is the next step from his Infinite Baseball Card Set, which features famous, infamous and not-so-famous players from the past. They’re not the more modern bubble-gum cards, but the old fashioned style tobacco cards with original, one-of-a-kind portraits. On the backs, instead of numbers and statistics, are interesting and well-researched stories about the player. His cards featured well-known players like Stan Musial (though it has him wearing a uniform from his team at the Bainbridge Naval Training Center in Maryland) and lesser known ones like Oscar Bielaski (who became the first Polish American to play in the majors in 1872). There were also cards featuring Johnny Grodzicki, considered a future pitching star until he suffered severe leg wounds during World War II, and “Silent Joe” (Bolinsky) Boley, a “quiet Pole from Pennsylvania” who was one of the great shortstops of the 1920s.

The book builds on the card set, adding more beautiful illustrations with longer stories. Again, some of the ballplayers featured as big names like Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente, but Cieradkowski focuses on their minor league days before they achieved greatness. However, most interesting are the lesser known players with unusual stories and unique backgrounds. Negro leaguers, career journeymen, foreign players and barnstormers are featured. Also included are some figures who were famous for doing other things, but played their share of baseball, like John Dillinger, Fidel Castro and George H.W. Bush.

A proud Polish American, Cieradkowski features a number of Polish American players, including:

*The Stanczak Brothers, the 10 sons of Polish immigrant Martin Stanczak, who were proclaimed the “1929 World Brother Champions” of baseball;

*Joseph Styborski, the mysterious man in the 1927 New York Yankees team photo. He was unidentified for years, but turned out to be a batting practice pitcher who’d recently graduated from Penn State University;

*The legendary Steve Dalkowski, who was widely considered the fastest pitcher in baseball. He was probably also the wildest, and never made it to the big leagues;

*Sig Jakucki, whose masterful pitching helped the St. Louis Browns win their only pennant in 1944. A tough, hard-drinking man, once when out for a drink when a Mafia thug pulled a gun on him, and Sig “beat him into hamburger meat right at the bar.”

* Frankie Zak, the Pittsburgh shortstop who had only 208 at-bats in his three major league seasons, but was an All-Star in 1944. */B> Eddie Klep, the pitcher from Erie, Pa., who integrated the Negro Leagues in 1946.

Superbly illustrated, carefully researched, and very well written, The League of Outsider Baseball is a fascinating book that’s a must-have for any baseball fan.

PERFECT PACIOREK. Gary Cieradkowski might include John Paciorek in his next book under “Could-Have-Beens.” The older brother of baseball great Tom Paciorek has the distinction of a perfect 1.000 batting average; the problem was that he only played in the big leagues for one day.

Steven K. Wagner’s Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder tells of the Polish kid from Hamtramck who had one perfect day in the majors. On the final day of the 1963 season he went 3-for-3, 2 BB, with 4 runs scored and 3 RBI. Unfortunately, he never played in the majors again. Of the 80 other players in major league history with perfect career batting averages, all were 2 for 2 or 1 for 1.

Paciorek was considered “a natural,” an incredibly gifted talent who was destined for stardom. However, at the time of that perfect game Paciorek was experiencing serious back problems, likely brought on by his fanatical fitness regime. He soon underwent a number of surgeries but was never able to return to the majors.

The author not only tells about Paciorek’s memorable day, ties it to other events and players. He also points out that, on that same day, Stan Musial played his final game in a Cardinals uniform.

Pacoriek, who hung up his spikes in 1968, didn’t let himself be defined by that one day. He led a fulfilling life, becoming a teacher and also helping coach many other young ballplayers. Paciorek looked at the bright side: he said that if he had a healthy back he might have been sent to Viet Nam and maybe gotten killed; if he had had a successful big league career he might not have gotten married and had children.

AmPol Eagle - Baseball in Poland (June 30, 2014)

The Polish National Youth Baseball Foundation (PNYBF) was founded by Stan Kokoska of Willimantic, CT. Kokoska has continued to serve the children in Poland since his first summer teaching the children to play baseball in 1986.

Things have progressed since then and in 2004 a Polish team came to the United States to play in the Little League World Series. Now, it is almost impossible to have a team come to the United States as the cost of a visa, passport, airfare, housing and meals are too expensive for the families of the children, who are mostly poor people.

This spring, the 14th annual Dzialdowo Cup Tournament was held, with the winning team receiving a beautiful crystal trophy from the president of Poland. This summer, the baseball field in Dzialdowo, Poland was expanded to allow the now senior boys and girls to play ball. This field can be used for tee ball, little league, Babe Ruth and senior teams.

We at the PNYBF want to thank all of our supporters who have donated towards the building of the baseball field and towards shipping the donated equipment to Poland by boat. From the port it is delivered by truck to many cities all around Poland and to summer camps sponsored by the Kosciuszko Foundation.

If you would like to donate to continue the promotion of baseball in Poland make your check out to PNYBF and send it to 222 Ocean Drive East, Stamford, CT 06902. For more information, call me at 203-323-9944. We are a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible to the extent of the law. If you would like to join our volunteers, call us or e-mail oceanvu222@sbcglobal.net.

AmPol Eagle July 23, 2013 by Thomas Terapacki

My All-Time Polish-American All Star Baseball team

It’s baseball all-star time, so here’s my All-Time Polish American All-Star Baseball team. Just keep in mind that all my selections were retired ballplayers. No current major leaguers like A.J. Pierzynski and Troy Tulowitzki were considered.

Outfield: Stan Musial, Al(Szymanski) Simmons, Carl Yastrzemski. This is an outstanding Hall of Fame outfield headed by “Stan the Man,” who had a batting average of .331, 475 home runs and 1,951 RBIs. He is joined by Simmons (.334, 307, 1,827) and Yaz (.285, 452, 1,844). This trio is so remarkable that I had to leave off Barney McCosky. McCosky (his last name is actually derived from his Lithuanian father’s name; his mother was named Magdalena Rutkowski) was considered the best leadoff hitter of his era, and had a .312 career batting average over his 11 seasons. However, he lost three seasons to military service, and then suffered serious back problems. If Barney had been able to play longer, he’d likely be in Cooperstown too.

First base: Ted Kluszewski. Yankee greats Bill “Moose” Skowron and Joe (Kollonige) Collins were good, but “Big Klu” was special. He’s remembered as the slugger with the big arms who had fiveseasons of 100 RBI or more and led the NL with 49 homers and 141 RBI in 1954. Despite his size and power, he was an excellent hitter who batted .300 or better seven years in a row and was difficult to strike out, and a very smooth fielding first baseman.

Second base: Bill Mazeroski. An easy choice – the Pirate great and Hall of Famer is widely considered the best defensive second baseman ever. A clutch hitter, he’s best known for his dramatic World Series-clinching home run against the Yankees in 1960.

Shortstop: Alan Trammell. Trammell (his mother’s name was Anne Panczak) isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he should be. The long-time Detroit Tiger retired in 1996 with 2,365 hits, 1,231 runs scored, 185 home runs, 1,003 RBIs and four Gold Gloves.

Catcher: Frankie Pytlak. I chose Buffalo native Pytlak over John Grabowski, Stan Lopata and Carl Sawatski. Pytlak was a terrific hitter in the 1930s and 1940s (he batted over .300 three times) and was a fine fielder. He once set a Major League record for handling 581 consecutive chances without an error. (Most people don’t remember Grabowski, since he retired in 1931, but he caught for the team many consider baseball’s best ever, the 1927 New York Yankees).

Third base: Whitey Kurowski. The hero of the 1942 World Series was an excellent all-around third baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals – despite the fact that childhood osteomyelitis left him with his right arm shorter than his left.

Utility Infielder: Tony Kubek. Kubek gets the nod here ahead of Bob (Bialogowicz) Bailor and Ted Kubiak. The latter two were more of the traditional utility men, but Kubek first appeared on a New York Yankees roster as a utility ballplayer before becoming the regular shortstop. He also filled in at several infield positions and the outfield during his career. He retired prematurely at age 29 due to serious neck and back problems, possibly costing him a place in Cooperstown.

Designated hitter: Greg Luzinski “Bull” was chosen over Richie Zisk by virtue of his greater home run production. Both played around the same time – 70s and early 80s – and were prototypical DHs: big, powerful guys with bad knees. Luzinski hit .276 with 307 homers. Zisk hit just 207 homers, though he batted 11 points better over his career, .287.

Righthander Pitcher: Phil Niekro. Niekro, with a career record of 318-274 is one of just 24 men with at least 300 wins. The great knuckleballer had a long and productive career, utilizing the polka as part of his workout regime. Stan Coveleski (215-142) was no slouch, either, using the spitball in the 1910s and 1920s when the pitch was legal. Both men are in the Hall of Fame. Other great rightys include Jack (Picus) Quinn (247-217), Phil’s brother Joe Niekro (221-204), Steve Gromek (123-108) and Hank Borowy (108-82).

Lefthander Pitchers: Frank Tanana. Tanana (240-236) tops another impressive group of hurlers. Both Eddie Lopat (166-112) and Johnny Podres (148-116) had great career numbers, and much success in World Series play as well. Tanana, despite having had a fantastic career, played for many mediocre teams and never appeared in the fall classic. A former Angels No. 1 draft pick, he threw a 100-mph fastball and made three consecutive All-Star games (1976-78). He suffered a shoulder injury that cut his fastball down to 88-mph, but he reinvented himself as an outstanding junk-ball pitcher.

Reliever: Casimir “Jim” Konstanty. Konstanty was the first relief pitcher to be named MVP. That happened in 1950, when he led Philadelphia to the pennant with 16 wins and 22 saves, both NL highs. He beat out Ron Perranoski, who posted a 79-74 record, 179 saves and a 2.79 ERA during the 1960s and early 1970s. Also, don’t forget Myron “Moe” Drabowsky, who won 88 games pitching mostly in relief. In 1966 and 1970, the Polish-born righty played a big role in the Baltimore Orioles World Series championships.

Manager: Danny Ozark. Daniel Leonard Orzechowski was born in Buffalo and grew up in Cheektowaga. The WWII veteran played in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization before coaching under the Dodgers Manager Walter Alston. Ozark was eventually hired to take over the last place Philadelphia Phillies in 1972, and led them to three NL Eastern Division titles from 1976 to 1978. He posted a 618-542 record managing Philadelphia and San Francisco. Ozark was a clear choice over John Goryl, who managed Minnesota in the early 1980s and John Lipon, who managed briefly with Cleveland in the early 1970s.

AmPol Eagle October 23, 2013 by Greg Witul

Bielaski baseball card is a big hit

The best thing about October, other than being Polish Heritage month, is the baseball. It’s the time of year when even the most casual fan puts on a cap, pulls out the old glove and watches a game or two on TV. It’s also the time when sports card shows kick into high gear, cashing in around the excitement of the World Series. If you have a few dollars you could find a nice Carl Yastrzemski or a Stan Musial card. But one card you couldn’t find is Oscar Bielaski, Polonia’s first baseball player, because until recently one didn’t exist. This week we’ll take a look at Oscar Bielaski’s only baseball card, a part of Gary Cieradkowski’s Infinite Baseball Card Set.

Oscar Bielaski was born March 21, 1847, in Washington D.C. His father, Alexander Bielaski was a lieutenant during the November Uprising of 1831, and became a captain in the U.S. Army after he fled to America. During the Civil War, Alexander rose to the rank of aide-decamp to General John McClernand before being killed in the Battle of Belmont.

To avenge his father’s death, a 17-year-old Oscar joined the Union Army as a Private on Sept. 8, 1864 and was assigned to Company H,11th Cavalry Regiment New York. It didn’t take the Army long to figure out that Oscar was underaged and by Oct. 8, 1864 he was discharged.

Oscar may have not seen any action on the battle field in his month in the Army, but he did see some action on the “baseball” field. Oscar got even more experience on the field when he joined the Navy after the war. Oscar’s skill in the outfield and his determination at bat earned him a place on the newly formed Washington Nationals of the National Association. On April 24, 1872, Oscar stepped onto the field and made his debut as a professional baseball player.

Sadly, the Washington Nationals had no wins that season. The next year, the Nationals became the Blue Legs and they had a better season, winning eight out of 31 games. Oscar had a good year with a respectable .283 batting average.

In 1874, Bielaski became the right fielder for the Baltimore Canaries. The Canaries, like the Nationals were a terrible team. They came in dead last in the National Association that year, winning nine of 38 games.

After playing for two horrible teams, Bielaski jumped at the chance to play for the middle-of-the-pack Chicago White Stockings in 1875. The team, true to form ended the season in the center of the standings with 30 wins and 37 losses. When Bielaski hung up his cleats at the end of the season, he had little idea how big the next year would be.

In 1876, William Hulbert took over the Chicago White Stockings and changed the universe around Bielaski. The White Stockings new owner William Hulbert took the team out of the National Association and incorporated it into the new National League. Hulbert also eliminated over 80 percent of the players from the previous season, keeping only Bielaski and three others.

The rest of the club was replaced by some of the best baseball players of all time. The new pitcher/manager was Albert Spalding, Hall of Famer and founder of Spalding Sporting Goods Company; catching was Deacon White, a Hall of Famer who had the best batting average in the league the year before; infielder Cap Anson, Hall of Famer and the first player with 3,000 hits; and Ross Barnes, one of the forgotten legends of 19th century baseball.

With this lineup, Bielaski was now on one of the greatest teams of the 1800s. The White Stockings played spectacularly, winning 52 of the 66 games they played. On Sept. 26, they beat the Hartford Dark Blues earning the first pennant of the National League.

The 1876 season would be Oscar’s last. He returned to the Navy and spent the rest of his days working in Washington, D.C. He passed away Nov. 8, 1911, and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

With only five years in the major leagues, 52 runs batted in, no home runs, and a .243 lifetime batting average, Bielaski would be a long shot to make it to Cooperstown, but that doesn’t mean he’s not in the Hall of Fame.

On June 9, 2005, the 500 voting members of the National Polish- American Sports Hall of Fame inducted Oscar into their hall in Orchard Lake Village, Mich. Seven years later, Bielaski was immortalized again, this time in cardboard.

In 2012, Polish-American artist Gary Cieradkowski included Bielaski in his Infinite Baseball Card Set. A series devoted to the greats, the underrepresented, and the people who made baseball interesting.

There are cards of Eddie Gaedel, the shortest player in Major League Baseball, Eddie Bennett, the greatest bat boy of all time and even Boston relief pitcher and bar owner Sam Malone.

Keeping true to his Polish roots Cieradkowski has created cards of Stan “The Man” Musial, Sig Jakucki, Frankie Zak, and Joseph Styborski to name a few. If you want a Bielaski card of your own, you can order it through Mr. Cieradkowski's website, infinitecardset.blogspot.com.

AmPol Eagle February 12, 2013 by Robert Strybel

Pol-Am Baseball great Stan Musial dies

Stan Musial, one of baseball’s all-time greats, died at his St. Louis County home Jan. 19, surrounded by family and friends. His health had declined in recent years as a result of various afflictions including Alzheimer’s disease, and he was under hospice care when he quietly passed away at the age of 92.

Stan “the Man” Musial was the greatest player in the history of the St. Louis Cardinals and the quintessential Cardinal down to the very end. Musial played his entire 22-season career with the Cardinals, from 1941 to 1963.

A .331 lifetime batter, Musial hit .300 or better 16 straight seasons, beginning in 1942. He played on three world championship teams (1942, 1944 and 1946) and in 24 All-Star Games, tying a record. He won three National League Most Valuable Player awards.

A friendly, fun-loving likable sort, Musial enjoyed making other people happy. He would tell a joke or play his harmonica at the drop of a hat and was always baseball’s perfect goodwill ambassador.

In 1969 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. When Polonia’s Orchard Lake Schools first established the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame (http://polishsportshof.com) on their lakeside campus near Detroit in 1973, Musial was the first Polonian athlete to be so honored.

A large bronze statue to Musial at St. Louis’ new Busch Stadium carries the inscription: “Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.” In 1999, Musial was named a member of the 20th century’s All-Century Team, and in 2011 President Barack Obama presented him with the Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian decoration.

A proud Polish American who spoke a fair brand of Polish, in his later years Musial wanted to share his love of the sport with kids in his ancestral homeland. Born in Donora, PA, a town some 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, he may have come close to ending up in the NBA.

His Polish-born dad Lukasz had been pressuring him to accept a basketball scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, but his mother Marysia went to bat for her son. “Why did you come to America?” She asked her husband. “Because it’s a free country,” he replied. To which she retorted: “Yes, and that means a boy is free NOT to go to college if he doesn’t want to.”

I had the good fortune to meet Musial in Warsaw during some of his numerous trips to Poland when he was working on various pro-Polish projects with his good friend Edward Piszek, Philadelphia industrialist and humanitarian. Having heard that coaches from Castro’s Cuba were planning to introduce baseball to Poland, they put their heads together to do something about it.

After years of effort and sizable financial outlays, Musial and Piszek were largely instrumental in introducing Little League Baseball to Poland. Their negotiating skills were also responsible for the central Polish town of Kutno becoming the Little League headquarters for all of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Initially the German city of Ramstein had been nominated for that distinction. One of Kutno’s seven stadiums is now officially known as Stan Musial Little League Stadium.

Am-Pol Eagle - Baseball in Poland (July 27, 2006 Vol 47-22, page 12)

The Post Eagle - Assist Baseball in Poland (June 7, 2006 Vol 45-22 1, 4, 14)

 

The Post Eagle - PNYBF Web Site (April 12, 2006 Vol 45-14 page 11)