by Clark Groome
The Carpenter Cup is 30 years old. The presentation event, mounted in cooperation with the Phillies, is a showcase for high school baseball players.
According to Springside Chestnut Hill Academy coach and history teacher Stan Parker who’s been involved with the program since its inception, the Carpenter Cup is designed to benefit the players.
Among those benefits, he says, are “the opportunity to attend college, the opportunity to attend college with financial assistance, and the opportunity to be scouted and potentially drafted by pro teams.”
Here’s how it works. Sixteen 25-player teams, called franchises, compete in the single elimination tournament. The franchises represent geographic areas or leagues. The first two rounds of games are played on Ashburn Field at FDR Park in South Philadelphia with the semis and finals played at Citizens Bank Park. This year’s tournament will conclude June 23.
The Phillies make the facilities available for the cup, which is named in honor of former Phillies owners Bob and Ruly Carpenter. They also supply the grounds crew to tend to the fields at FDR Park and at their home park.
Phillies PA announcer Dan Baker is on hand to announce eight to 10 of the games each year.
Since the Carpenter Cup is a showcase, the game rules are slightly altered. Twenty-one of each team’s 25 players must play in each nine-inning game. Position players can play no more than six or fewer than three innings. Pitchers can be on the mound for no more than nine outs. There is also no bunting until the 7th inning, and any batter must have at least one at bat before he can bunt.
The Carpenter Cup began after the traditional Catholic League/Public League city championship game was discontinued in the early 1980s. Parker was asked if he would help put together a new competition. After the event got off the ground, Parker, 65, stayed involved. He’s now its executive secretary.
“I coordinate all the pre-game stuff: making sure the umpires are there, making sure the stadium tickets are available, security guards are there, there are baseballs, teams arrive at the designated times, that they’re familiar with the rules.
“I’m also,” – no surprise to anyone who knows my old friend – “the on-field grouch.” Which basically means that if something comes up that needs to be taken care of, he’s there to make sure it happens.
“This is not just show up and play baseball,” Parker said. “There’s a lot that goes on here. The Phillies deserve a huge amount of the credit.” Almost all involved with the program are volunteers: umpires, executive committee members and coaches.
Phillies chairman David Montgomery supports the Carpenter Cup, and similar programs wholeheartedly.
“This,” Montgomery said, “is our game. It’s our game at the 12-year-old level, at the American Legion level, the Babe Ruth level, at the high school level, at the college level. It’s the game of baseball, and shame on us if we aren’t trying to develop the game at [every] level.
“If there’s one kid who can play our game and somehow they get to college or they get signed and their life gets turned around, then we should be there to do that.”
Parker agrees, and said he’s involved not only because he loves the sport – he coached the Chestnut Hill Academy varsity from 1978 to 1985 and again from 1999 to 2012.
“It’s part of the education process I’ve been in [since joining the CHA faculty in 1973],” he said. “It’s helping kids. The bottom line is when the executive committee meets, it’s not about this team winning or that team winning. We’ve got 400-plus kids we need to help.”
Since its inception, more than 350 Carpenter Cup alumni have been helped by their participation in the event. Some of those who have gone on to the Major Leagues are Malvern Prep graduate and current Phillies announcer Ben Davis, who spent seven years as a major league catcher; CHA alumnus Mike Koplove, who pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Cleveland Indians; Norristown native and all-star catcher Mike Piazza, widely believed to be a future Hall of Famer, whose 16-year career included significant stops with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets; former Phillies catcher Brian Schneider, and Vineland, N.J.’s phenom Mike Trout, currently the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s center fielder and thought to be one of the top five players in baseball.
So it is about the kids. And Erdenheim’s Stan Parker has been a big part of that. As David Montgomery said: “Stan’s a very passionate guy about the game of baseball. He cares so much about other people, something he has demonstrated all those years coaching and [teaching].”