It is unusual to mix baseball and Church in the same story, especially in the off-season, but Olyphant, Pennsylvania has done it.
The Borough has decided to name a baseball field in honor of Msgr. Stephen Hrynuck, Pastor of SS. Cyril & Methodius Ukrainian Catholic Church, and the late Joseph Beckage, former coach of the parish's baseball team.
Olyphant to dedicate baseball park
BY CHARLES SCHILLINGER
Published: Saturday, October 11, 2008
Updated: Saturday, October 11, 2008 4:23 AM EDT
Joseph “Boom Boom” Beckage and Monsignor Stephen Hrynuck will certainly be among the names of local legends from Olyphant not easily forgotten.
But to hedge bets, borough officials and residents on Sunday will make sure those names last forever by naming a local baseball park at the Joe Wargo Sports Complex on East Grant Street after the two men. The ceremony will be at 2 p.m.
Mr. Beckage coached the St. Cyril Athletic Association’s baseball team, the Saints, several decades ago. He presided over the team when it won an unprecedented seven consecutive season championships in the Scranton Association, a league of amateur baseball teams.
Monsignor Hrynuck, pastor of SS. Cyril and Methodius Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, was instrumental in organizing the association. An ardent baseball follower, he also helped the association financially.
Borough Councilman Bob Hooper said people felt Mr. Beckage and Monsignor Hrynuck deserved the recognition.
“These are great men of the town of Olyphant, and that’s where they made their mark,” Mr. Hooper said.
Sports could use more people like Mr. Beckage, who believed in discipline and had a motto of, “If you want to be a ballplayer, then look like a ballplayer.” Mr. Beckage died in 2004 at the age of 78.
His son, Joe Beckage of Olyphant, said his father wanted his players to be clean-shaven, wear the uniform properly and act professional.
“They were winners, and they played the right way,” said Mr. Beckage’s son about his father’s teams.
About the community honoring his father this Sunday, he added: “I’m sure he’s looking down right now thinking that’s pretty cool.”
Monsignor Hrynuck, 97, said he was also very excited about the honor, though he likely won’t be able to attend the ceremony.
“I’ll be there in spirit,” he said. “I was always very excited to be a part of it (the baseball association).”
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Olyphant has another connection to baseball history. SS. Cyril & Methodius is the home parish of the Hall of Fame Umpire, Nestor Chylak.