Village Green shined in the fast pitch era

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 11 July 2020 at 8:49 am

Contributed Photo – Co-managers Louie Foreman, left, and Bill Board Jr., right, are shown here with ace pitcher Joe Morien during the Village Green’s big 1961 fast pitch softball season.

In recent decades slo-pitch softball has proved very popular but in the 1950’s and 60’s fast-pitch softball was the name of the game and one of the memorable teams was the 1961 Village Green squad.

Co-managed by Louie Foreman and Bill Board Jr., the Village Green team posted a near perfect 12-1 record while playing an independent schedule against teams from all around Western New York.

Joe Morien, a long time local pitching ace, headlined the Village Green lineup. Inducted into the WNY Softball Hall of Fame in 1970 and the New York State Softball Hall of Fame in 1991, Morien had been a fireballing pitching whiz since the early 1930’s.

Board and Bill Lynch also shared in the pitching duties with either Foreman or John Eppolito behind the plate.

The Village Green lineup also included Bill Smith at first base, Jim Cotter or John Hydock at second, Jim Taylor at third, either George Hotchkiss or Chuck Tuohey at shortstop with Dean Allport, Glenn Stalker, Dick VanAuker, Bob Kiebala and Archie Blake sharing the picket duty in the outfield.

Village Green enjoyed a most successful season opener edging GE of Brockport 5-4 at Vets Park on a two-run fourth inning single by Hotchkiss which followed singles by Board and Cotter. The Green’s other runs came in he first inning on a two-run homer by Taylor and an RBI single by Cotter. Morien went the distance scattering six hits and striking out five.

The season was highlighted by a lengthy 10 game winning streak which was finally ended in a 6-2 loss to Third Ward of Tonawnada. Eleven stranded base runners and five errors proved costly in that setback.

In putting together that long win streak Village Green defeated teams such as Navy-Marine Club of Lockport (16-3), Colonial Inn of Brockport (12-3), Batavia All-Stars (7-1), Getzville (5-1), Wagners of Lockport (8-3), the Batavia Polish Falcons (10-5) and the Tonawanda Pirates Inn (6-5).

In the narrow win over the Pirates Morien had a clutch game winning bunt to cap a three-run sixth inning.

Morien registered a season high 14 strikeouts while giving up only three hits in a win over Niagara Sporting Goods for Village Green’s 10th straight win.

Village Green  bounced back strong from that streak ending loss to Third Ward by downing Niagara Falls Volkswagen 8-6 in the next game on a three-run home by Stalker.

In capping off a very successful inaugural campaign, Village Green bested Lewiston Restaurant 6-3. A two-run fourth inning single by Foreman proved to be the game winner as Allport tacked on a solo home run in the fifth. Morien struck out 11 and allowed only four hits.