South Jersey Baseball History:
Friday, May 26, 2000
By Charlie Schick
In a hard fought slugfest on May 26, 1951, Camden Catholic came out on top of Collingswood High 12-8. The victory was a historic one, for it enabled the "Irish" for the first time in their school's history, to finish a baseball season undefeated. Their 13-0 perfect record represented the school's most successful baseball year ever.
Collingswood, however, was not a willing victim, as they gave Catholic a real run for their money for the first five frames of the contest. In fact, the Irish only held a one run lead to 9-8 after five, thanks mainly to All State outfielder Joe Strippoli's 3-run home run in the top of the fifth frame.
Since the Collingswood offense had shown earlier that they were capable of coming from behind, Catholic brought in relief pitcher Joe Kotch in the latter innings to try and cool off their bats. Kotch answered the call magnificently, as he shut down the "Colls" on only 1 hit, and no runs over the last three frames. In the meantime, Camden Catholic added 2 runs in the eighth and 1 in the ninth to increase their advantage to 12-8 and guarantee their first undefeated season.
All State first baseman Don McComb and Strippoli were the hitting stars for the Irish with 3 hits apiece. The big strapping McComb roped 2 doubles and a single, while Strippoli collected 2 singles and a tremendous homer.
The Irish victory assured them their first South Jersey Parochial "A" crown, to go along with their previously captured City Series championship. Besides the titles and perfect record, coach Johnny McCarthy's squad also featured some of the most outstanding players in the state. First baseman McComb and outfielder Strippoli were joined on the All State Parochial squad by second baseman Joe Burke and outfielder Dick Scott.
FIRST HIGH SCHOOL THREE-TIME ALL STATE PLAYER - 1952
In the early 1950's, Camden Catholic High enjoyed the greatest sports era in the school's history. The numerous successes covered all fields of competition, as baseball, basketball and football championships were claimed by the Irish's powered teams.
Their baseball squad in particular enjoyed its most rewarding times during this period as a Camden City Series title and South Jersey Parochial "A" championship were captured by the Irish. But, without question, the undefeated 1951 season, the first ever in school history, had to be the ultimate highlight in the school's history.
Head baseball coach John McCarthy's hard-hitting squads of the times consisted of some of the finest players in the entire state. Second baseman Ed Burke, first baseman Don McComb, catcher Phil Raimondo, outfielder/pitcher Dick Scott, and outfielder Joe Strippoli all distinguished themselves as top players in New Jersey.
One of these young men, however, accomplished something no other South Jersey scholastic baseball player had ever done. Outfielder Joe Strippoli, eight varsity letter winner, was selected All State three consecutive years - 1950, 1951 and 1952.
As a sophomore, Strippoli's power hitting, strong arm, and clutch hits gained him both local and statewide notice, as he became the area's first sophomore to be selected to the All State Team. In his junior year, Joe once again starred, and it was his 3-run home run in the last game of the year that gave Camden Catholic its first undefeated baseball season. For his excellent play, the baseball experts and scouts honored him with his second straight All State Team appointment.
And finally, in his last year at Camden Catholic, Strippoli continued his outstanding diamond play to heights that attracted interest from major league scouts. As a fitting end to his brilliant scholastic career, he was for the third consecutive year placed on the elite All State squad, thus becoming the first South Jersey baseball player in history to accomplish such an honor.
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