The players who put on their uniforms to compete in baseball for either the Central or Susquehanna leagues typically share one particular trait.
Long known as leagues for the working man, the Central and Susquehanna leagues are filled with current and former high school standouts who still have the burning desire to compete and win.
Many of them are in their late 20s to mid-30s.
The dreams of playing the sport they love at the professional level are now mostly just that — dreams. Still, they have a passion that compels them to continue to put on their uniforms several nights a week to compete against friends and peers.
For some, however, playing is just not enough.
A seemingly growing number of Susquehanna and Central players are now choosing a another avenue to quench their baseball thirst — coaching.
When you looked around the York-Adams League during the high school baseball season this spring, you were likely to find at least one coach who either played, or still plays, in the local adult sandlot leagues.
Several of them are head coaches now, such as Dallastown’s Greg Kinneman, York Suburban's Casey Markey, Eastern York's Brett Heiser, Spring Grove's Kevin Stiffler, Susquehannock's Tim Hare and Northeastern’s Andy Srebroski.
Markey, in fact, was the York-Adams Division II Coach of the Year this past season, while Kinneman guided Dallastown to the PIAA Class 6-A title game in 2017.
"Love of the game:" Even Central League president Mark Skehan, who played for and managed several teams in the Central League in the past, has joined the act as a junior varsity coach at York Catholic.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of them around,” Skehan said. “And I think it’s great.”
Skehan knows the challenges of both playing and coaching first hand. Both require a lot of time commitment at the expense of other duties — work, family, relationships — that a particular player may have.
For the most part, all of them do it for one reason.
“These guys all share a love of the game,” Skehan said. “It requires a lot of sacrifice to play in either men’s league. You give up a lot of free time, and most of them have families, so they’re sacrificing family time. And you don’t do that unless you have a real passion for the game.”
Spreading passion to new generation: Spreading that passion to a new generation of players is perhaps the biggest reason that many of the current and former Susquehanna and Central players get into coaching. Skehan, for one, doesn’t buy into the talk nowadays that baseball is boring.
“If your total exposure to baseball is watching major league games on television, I can see where you might think it’s boring,” he said. “You don’t see the hit-and-runs, you don’t see a lot of bunts for base hits, at least not as much as you did 20 years ago. But that’s not the game that we play in the men’s leagues.
"York County baseball plays a fun brand of the baseball and we have a lot of people that just want to continue to pass that along to the next generation.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.
Here’s a list of some high school coaches who have played, or are playing, in either the Central or Susquehanna leagues. This list is not necessarily complete.
Greg Kinneman (Shiloh/Vikings)
Jaron Shimmel (Hallam)
Andy Srebroski (Mount Wolf)
Adam Hoff (East Prospect, Wrightsville, Jacobus, Hallam, Mount Wolf)
Casey Markey (York Township, Jacobus)
Darren Hake (Red Lion, Windsor)
Steve Kline (East Prosepct)
Kevin Stiffler (Southern, Springfield Township)
Brett Heiser (Hallam, Wrightsville)
Jake Schoelkoph (Columbia, Wrightsville, Hallam)
Mack Miller (Hallam)
Fritz Allison (Glen Rock)
Tim Hare (Southern, Glen Rock)
Barak Gohn (Felton)
Mark Skehan (Jefferson, Shiloh, Vikings)
Clay Smeltzer (Conrads, Stewartstown).