To fans who followed the Central Baseball League over the past 25 years, there was no one more dominant during that span than Mount Wolf's Keith Wentz.
Wentz, who was inducted into the league's Hall of Fame in 2010, spent 18 years with the Wolves (1987-2005) while compiling a slew of impressive offensive numbers. Here are just a few:
---1. His 1,060 career hits rank third in league history.
---2. He remains the only Central League player (.428 average) with more than 1,250 career at-bats to hit over .400.
---3. His 225 career home runs are 74 more than second-place Fritz Allison of Glen Rock.
---4. He drove in 893 runs during his career, 230 more than runner-up Tim Thoman of Stoverstown.
---5. He played on at least 12 teams that won the league and/or playoff championships.
Perhaps Wentz's best season came back in 1991, when he put up some of the all-time greatest single-season numbers in league history. He batted a remarkable .485 that year with 64 hits and 57 runs scored, while setting league records with 25 homers and 80 RBIs.
A local product, Wentz was a four-sport standout in high school at Northeastern, where he graduated in 1982. He went on to star at York College. He was then selected in the fifth round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft by the Oakland Athletics in 1985. He played a few seasons in the A's farm system and earned another short stint in the Cardinals' organization before coming back to York in 1987.
For all his accomplishments Wentz will be inducted into the York Area Sports Hall of Fame along with Central York football/boys' volleyball coach Brad Livingston during a ceremony on May 6. Those two will be honored later that night at Sovereign Bank Stadium before the York Revolution's home contest with the Bridgeport Bluefish.
We caught up with Wentz recently to talk about his career for this week's edition of Sports Q&A.
What went through your mind when you found out you were going to be inducted into the York Area Sports Hall of Fame?
"I was extremely honored, humbled and appreciative, not only to be considered but selected, given the amount of great athletes we have had in York County."
What was it like to play with Mount Wolf and in the Central League during your big years in the 1990s?
"Extremely enjoyable because of the level of commitment from the players. There was a passion and expectation to go out every game and give it our best with the intention of winning each game in a very competitive league. Overall, looking back, it was as close to a competitive professional experience as I can describe -- without all the long bus rides."
What have you been doing with yourself since you retired from playing?
"All of the things I couldn't enjoy while playing -- spending more time with my wife and our families. We go on weekend trips, do home projects and still watch Mount Wolf play when the opportunity presents itself. From a professional standpoint, I participate in charitable organizations such as the Rotary Club of York and the YWCA, serving on the Board of Directors."
What was it like when you signed on to play pro baseball?
"I fulfilled a lifetime dream that my parents and I always used to talk about. I was extremely excited and surprised because I had not spoken to, nor was I scouted by, the A's organization. I was also a bit nervous not knowing what to expect, but obviously proud and appreciative of being drafted.
How difficult was it to deal with the real ization that a profes sional career wasn't meant to be?
"It was disappointing, when you work extremely hard in chasing a dream and do not reach your goal, it's tough to take. On the other hand, I was paid to play a sport and be in a profession that many (others) wish (they) would have the opportunity (to play), but never get the chance to enjoy. I got to travel and see some beautiful parts of our country and meet other people with different backgrounds. In the end, I came to the realization that reaching the pinnacle of the Major Leagues was very difficult."
How big a role did coming back home and playing with Mount Wolf help in that tran sition?
"That's a three-part answer. First, I always enjoyed playing at Mount Wolf when I played Legion ball for Northeastern and wanted to come back and play on that field, given those previous experiences. Second, prior to signing with St. Louis, I got the chance to meet the players on Mount Wolf's team and saw very quickly their level of commitment and determination to win. Third, I heard what a great person and manager Rock Brenner was and felt the combination of those three things would make baseball enjoyable again. And it did. And after being there, I experienced a level of camaraderie both on and off the field -- we were intense on the field and enjoyed each other's company off it as well.
Are you still sur prised that a lot of your career stats are still at the top, or among the top, of the Central League's all- time leaders?
"I was never a statistical guy. I was more concerned with the team winning. When the team was successful, the individual stats just tended to follow. To me and my teammates, the team success was more important and our championships over the years are something we were, and continue to be, proud of."
Who played a big role in helping to make you the successful person and athlete that you are?
"My parents -- their support, advice, guidance and love was essential in my success over the years. In addition, my family played a big role as well. Beyond my family, the many coaches at the various levels were also critical to my success. They taught me the necessary skills to be successful. And in my later years, my wife Ramonda, who supported me and was always there."
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.