MOUNT WOLF — For many, it will be hard to imagine baseball in Mount Wolf without Tim Brenner.
For nearly four decades, starting in 1979, Brenner has been involved with the Wolves as either a player or a manager.
During his playing days, Brenner was one of the Central League’s best. He regularly was among the league leaders in hits, batting average, doubles and home runs. Those exploits earned Brenner induction into the league’s Hall of Fame back in 2007.
During his eight seasons as manager, Brenner led Mount Wolf to two regular-season titles, including a York County Championship in 2014.
There was more to Brenner, however, than just gaudy numbers and championships. He was also a coach, a father figure and a leader to many. He was also described as a generous and caring friend.
All of that makes the recent death of Brenner, at age 53, disheartening to to those who knew him.
“Going to the field in Mount Wolf is just never going to be same without Tim around,” Mount Wolf standout Dan Dierdorff said after learning of Brenner’s death on April 2. “We were just in the Mount Wolf clubhouse the other day looking at a bunch of newspaper clippings just sitting in the corner, and not one of them failed to mention Tim. It is going to be hard knowing that he won’t be around anymore.”
That sentiment is shared by many.
“Tim lived and breathed baseball,” former Jefferson manager Steve Gentile said. “During the game he was like a pit bull, always getting after (you). But after the game we were friends and that’s the kind of guy that we was.”
Gentile and Brenner — who were rivals as managers — became good friends after a token of generosity extended by Brenner back in 2011.
“I remember we played (Mount Wolf) to a tie one day,” Gentile said. “So we went back to Mount Wolf to finish it, and it turns out it was like for only an inning. We got out (butts) beat and lost the game. After that, Tim asked me to coach in the Colonial Tournament with them and to bring some of our guys. We were just starting to get some good ball players on the roster. And that was just kind of the beginning of it.”
Just a few years later, Gentile was happy to return the favor after his Jefferson squad won the Central League playoff crown.
“He kind of mentored the Titans and helped us along,” said Gentile, who recalled several difficult years when his Titans won just a handful of games. “He really taught some of my guys how to win every day instead of once in a while, and that was what helped our big turnaround.”
Dierdorff said it was Brenner who gave him his first shot at regular playing time with the Wolves while he was still in college playing at West Virginia.
Having played under Brenner for eight years, Dierdorff learned a lot about his manager. Perhaps the biggest things he took away was Brenner’s love for the game.
“When Tim was at a baseball field, it seemed like he was always at peace,” Dierdorff said. “Especially after that year that we had in 2014, where everything just kind of came together. It was a blast. He was in good health, we were playing really well and it was fun to be playing together.”
The realization that Brenner will not be in the dugout the next time the Wolves play a home game later this year hit Dierdorff pretty hard, but Dierdorff was mostly thankful for having the privilege to call Brenner a friend.
“You cherish all of those memories you had with him now,” Dierdorff said. “And you wish that you could still have more again.”
A visitation for Brenner will be from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. Monday at The Diehl Funeral Home & Cremation Center, 87 S. Main St., in Mount Wolf.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.