Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mavericks Baseball

After digging out from all the recent snowfall we've received and bundling up to brave the frigid temperatures outdoors these days, I am looking forward to spring training, baseball and warmer weather much more so than usual.

While I love the Fightin' Phils as much as anybody, I'm especially fond of local baseball.  While we all know about our local Babe Ruth league teams at ARA (Audubon Recreation Association), and its girls' softball and boys' baseball leagues for the under-12 set, I bet you didn't know that Lower Providence has its own namesake Connie Mack team...the Lower Providence Mavericks.  

Designed as an alternative league to Junior Legion and Legion for those maxing out of ARA (ie, turning 13), up to a maximum age of 16, it's a competitive, exciting and less restrictive option than the rigors of those leagues, yet allows players time to do homework and have some time with their families.

First put together about ten years ago by a former township resident, the Mavericks teams were carried forward by Lower Providence resident Tom Culligan of Audubon when his son Tom (who also plays football as a defensive tackle for Methacton) grew too old for ARA.  Tom's brother-in-law, John Wolfe of West Norriton, joined him when his son John also outgrew ARA several years later; both coached at ARA. What started out as a one-team experiment has, in just a few short seasons grown to four, and possibly five this year, teams.  Some of the players' fathers have provided much needed assistance in coaching, field maintenance, scorekeeping, and running practices.

With home fields at both Gaugler Field in Lower Providence and Heebner Park in Worcester, the teams regularly play other Connie Mack opponents in the area, including Souderton, Lansdale, Warrington, Doylestown, Perkasie and others in both Montgomery and Bucks Counties. There's also an annual All Star game and a playoff series. In 2009, the team my son plays on won its championship.

The majority of the players come from Lower Providence, although there are a fair number from Worcester and a handful from other local townships. Many of the boys also play for Methacton's baseball team. One of the strengths of this league is that the coaches have been successful in keeping core groups of players from ARA together post-Babe Ruth. Since these young men have been literally playing together on teams since they were swiping whiffle balls off of tees at age 5 or 6, they have a tight bond and commitment to each other that comes from knowing each other's talents and personalities well, and truly enjoying each other's company.

The parents, too, have formed an alternate family of sorts, socializing together on and off the field, helping carpool to practices and games, and coaching. It's a tightly knit, family oriented league.

The coaches hope to continue to grow the league as time goes on and are always looking for sponsors; they made a major investment in new equipment and uniforms last year. I can personally attest to the number of hours these gentlemen contribute and the level of skill they've imparted to the players.  The boys are always exceptionally well prepared and most of the games are very exciting to watch - some, a little too exciting -, but the Mavericks are resilient and have waged some electrifying come-from-behind victories.

Registration for 2011 Mavericks baseball is now open; the sign-up fee is $250. Any registrations taking place after February 28 will incur the full fee of $300.00. Also, a uniform deposit will be collected (undated & separate check) as well, and will be returned at the end of the season when each player's uniform is returned.

Registration checks can be made payable to Montco Youth Athetic League and mailed to:

John Wolfe
2475 Stinson Lane
Trooper PA 19403

Depending on the ages and number of players who register, there could be 3 levels of Connie Mack teams: “A”,“B1", and “B”. Competition is open to all players, ages 12 through 16, providing that players 16 years of age do not reach their 17th birthday prior to May 1st of the current baseball season.

Roster spots are assigned based on tryouts and is limited, and it is possible that a player may not make a team. Any registered player who does not make a team will be issued a full refund. However, anyone who is selected for a team and decides after the selection that they do not wish to play, will not be refunded their registration fee.

Come on out and catch a game this spring/summer, or register your son to try out for one of the teams. To learn more or to register, visit

News link from 2010:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Funny Business

If you're like most people, every week you go to work, pay your bills, feed your dog, play with your kids, and put out your trash. If you are like most people, that is.

If you are Lower Providence Township supervisor Don Thomas, you undoubtedly do all that, and put your trash out, too, but the difference is, who is picking it up?

G&C trash truck pulling out of Thomas' driveway on trash day
As I'm sure most everyone knows, like many other communities on the East Coast and in Pennsylvania, our community has one company, J.P. Mascaro, under contract to remove residents' trash. Unless you can  prove you are eligible for an exemption or, in rare instances, grandfathered from compliance by having another contractor in place prior to 1990,  the current contracted hauler must pick up your trash.

One such exemption is that if you own a business, you can use whatever company hauls your business trash away in lieu of the Township trash hauler. Supervisor Thomas claims that he owns and runs a valid business, Earl Thomas Heating Oil,  out of his home address and is thus exempted from compliance with the Township ordinance, a claim he substantiated by taking out a business license with the Township in that name. Accordingly, he is having HIS family's trash picked up by a private hauler, G & C Waste Services of East Norriton (see photos).   

While it is true that at in the past, there WAS a family business - Earl F. Thomas Heating Oil Inc.  - being operated out of  Don's home address, that business was sold to competitor Jay Gress, Inc. approximately three years ago, according to a principal at Gress. My understanding is that a condition of the sale was that Mr. Thomas was to be given a desk job at Jay Gress, and my sources confirm that not only does Mr. Thomas work there in a full-time capacity as a dispatcher, but that he "shows up for work every day and apparently only ever leaves the office to eat lunch..." Really? So when, exactly, is he running this business of his? Why would he even have another job if he was running his own business?

I suspect Jay Gress, Inc. would be very interested to know that a company they acquired and presumably paid good money for is allegedly still operating, particularly if there is a non-compete provision in the agreement of sale.

A Gress source told me that as a typical rule, whenver Jay Gress has acquired a business, it keeps the old entity name open, but the business address is changed to Gress' corporate address in Conshohocken to facilitate the transition from the old business's customers to Jay Gress. So, although the business name may still be active (and per the State Corporation Commission, it is), it is no longer owned or operated by the Thomas family and as such, the business license taken out by Don Thomas in their former company's name could potentially be considered fraudulent and taken out in an effort to evade compliance with the ordinance and payment of the contracted trash fees - fees that the rest of us must pay. 

G&C trash container awaiting pickup at the Thomas residence
Whether or not you agree with the issue of a single hauler or not, it is the current law of the land, and it's only fair that if residents are subject to it, supervisors should be too unless there is a legitimate exception.  

As an elected official, supervisors take an oath to "serve with fidelity", which Webster's defines as "strict observance of promises and duties".  One would presume compliance with the Township's own ordinances would fall into that category, and that our elected officials would not try to get away with any 'funny business', as it's no laughing matter to the rest of us.