Bonk’s Café 1952 Baseball Team
The 1950’s have often been called “The Golden Age” of amateur baseball in Lorain. The Bonk’s Café 1952 baseball team, composed of 17 and 18 year-old high school players, were an outstanding team that exemplified this claim.
Organized and managed by LSHOF 1972 inductee Frank “Hawks” Pawlak, former Lorain Chief of Police, and Joe Godlewski, the team played under the Pulaski name and produced an outstanding record in winning the 1951 Lorain City Class ‘C’ league championship in convincing style.
In 1952, the team was reorganized under the sponsorship of Bonk’s Café and continued their dominating play to again win the Class ‘C’ league championship which qualified them to play in postseason competition.
First opportunity was at the Junior American Baseball Congress (ABC) series in Toledo, Ohio. They recorded their first game win by defeating Toledo 8 to 1, with Steve Matesick allowing two hits with 16 strike-outs. Next was a 3 to 2 victory over a heralded Dayton team, behind the pitching of Dick Ridenour and Del Bastock. They then hammered a powerhouse Canton Timken squad 17 to 2 to win the 1952 Junior American Baseball Congress State of Ohio Championship. Bonk’s had 17 hits in the game with three each by Bob Armstrong, Eugene “Yogi” Berens and Tom Johnson. Jim Yurman just missed a shutout and struck-out 13 batters in the seven-inning game.
The Championship qualified the team to play in the American Baseball Congress Junior Amateur World Series in Niles, Michigan. They won their first game against Abbottsford, Wisconsin, 2 to 1 behind the 11 strikeout pitching of Del Bastock. Their series play ended with losses to Springfield, Illinois and Detroit Trumbull Chevrolet for a final sixth place finish out of the 24 participating teams.
Other members of that Bonk’s Café team included Bo Richards, Nick Dugovich, George VanNeil, Dave Glaser, George Reichlin, John Lachowyn, John Witkowski, Steve Perkovich and bat boy, Bob Witkowski.
Numerous players on the team went on to play professional baseball included Del Bastock, Tom Johnson, Steve Matesick, Bill Mihalik, Dick Ridenour, Doug Swartz and Jim Yurman.