The spring of 1953 was a special time for Purcell baseball. For the past 10 years, baseball in Cincinnati had been dominated by the west side of Cincinnati. Elder and Western Hills had won five of the last ten state championships.
What was clearly evident was that, if a youngster wanted to learn baseball at its best, the West Side of Cincinnati was the place to grow up, at least until the ’53-’54 group came along under the guidance of Elmer Martin. Even under Elmer, the West Side clipped our ears a few times until we learned our lessons.”
Martin was a local Knothole coach who drilled the fundamentals into players such as his son, catcher Gene Martin, as well as pitchers Beatty and Dick Meder, center fielder Chuck Lima and shortstop Tom Wohlwender. They all would become key members of the Purcell team that captured the 1953 Ohio Class A state championship.
All were juniors on that team, fortifying a senior class that included first baseman Don Waller, left fielder Jim Niemann, and right fielder Paul Schramm, but the team still needed a couple of pieces. Senior left-hander Bill Reynolds became one of them, along with senior third baseman Bill “Butch” Bomkamp. Purcell, led by second-year coach Jack Hanlon, lost four games during the regular season before earning a trip to Columbus by knocking off Dayton Fairmont, 7-1, in the regional semifinals on May 19 at Withrow and edging Roger Bacon, 3-2, in the regional final that same day at Taft Field.
Rain in Columbus forced Purcell to play the state semifinal and final on the same day – Saturday, May 23.
Meder pitched a complete-game, one-hit shutout as the Cavaliers rolled past Newark, 7-0. Meder piled up 10 strikeouts while improving to 7-2 and got help from a Purcell offense that erupted for five first-inning runs.
The Cavaliers had momentum going into the state championship game against a Tiltonsville team led by pitcher-shortstop Bill Mazeroski, who in 1960 as the Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman became the only man in history to hit a World Series Game Seven walkoff home run.
Mazeroski limited Purcell to four hits and one walk, but Bob “Rosie” Kroell, described by Beatty as a pint-sized but tough sophomore” who’d replaced injured second baseman Tom “Mouse” McDevitt at mid-season, broke up a scoreless tie in the fourth with a two-run double to right field, driving in Bomkamp and Lima. Tiltonsville pushed a run across in the seventh, but Meder relieved Reynolds for the final two outs that clinched Purcell’s championship.
“Perhaps the bigger trophy was replacing the West Side of Cincinnati as baseball kingpins,” Beatty wrote. “After licking our chops for years, we were the champs.”
To view the entire article by Mark Schmetzer from the Cincinnati Enquirer, please view the link below.