|Grzyb Brothers: Nicknames and Hog Lot Baseball|
Tuesday, June 12, 2001
by Ed Patenaude
So I've Heard Column
Hog Lot baseball was the topic recently during a chance meeting with Steve Plaza, the one-time machine shop owner and Dudley Veterans Services Agent.
The Hog Lot, officially Merino Park, and called Hug Lot by some people, was on Dudley-Charlton Road in Dudley, at the west-end to Pine Street. While there are some interesting suppositions, genesis to the name is unknown. It's a conundrum, like Merino Village itself: No one knows why it is more popularly known as Jericho.
Stevens A.C. was probably the last team to play on the field, developed for housing around 1950. Old timers remember the Hog Lot because the road ran through left field.
A number of baseball clubs played home games on the field, including the Grzyb family team, according to Mr. Plaza. I remembered when Ada pitched for the Stevens team, when Hot Dog played third base, when Lou-Lou cavorted about the infield, and when Hash played first base.
They were brothers in Jericho's Grzyb family but they weren't a team by themselves. "Your memory doesn't go back far enough," Mr. Plaza said. He detected another shortcomings. I didn't know their given names.
It turns out they were Adolph "Ada" Grzyb, Henry "Hot Dog" Grzyb, Louis "Lou-Lou" Grzyb, and William "Hash" Grzyb. The Grzyb family team, with nine brothers, played in the years before World War II, I learned after Ted Grzych
"Yea, I'm the last one," said Louis. "I'm pushing 83." The other brothers were Edward "Boobie" Grzyb, John "Sam" Grzyb, Anthony "Webber" Grzyb, Frank "Piot" Grzyb, and Peter "Smokey" Grzyb, said Louis. "Sam" was Dudley's highway superintendent for many years and "Hash" held elective office, serving on the Board of Public Welfare.
"Skeezik" Grzych and William "Pop" Twardzik weren't immediate-family but they were on the Grzyb squad. "We needed substitutes," Louis Grzyb declared. The brothers didn't play any assigned positions because the lineup changed game to game, depending on the pitcher, and personal inclinations. "Smokey" and "Ada" were the top pitchers, said Louis Grzyb, who also toed the rubber at times. When he wasn't on third base, "Hot Dog" pitched or caught.
William "Hash" Grzyb managed the family nine. "We played mostly evenings, during the week," said Louis Grzyb. "We had a 12 and 2 record one year." The older brothers played weekends with the Dudley A.A. or the Dudley A.C. before the war, and the younger brothers played with the Stevens A.C. after the war, according to Louis. Large crowds attended Saturday and Sunday afternoon games, and cross-town rivalries were a big thing. "Ada," a stylish left-hander, played in a Canadian League one summer along with Norman "Frenchy" Millette, Louis said.
The three younger guys and a couple of the older fellows served in World War II. "Five of us at one time," said Louis, remembering they all qualified for an emergency leave during their mothers last illness. "Three of us were on the high seas when she died," he added. "We all saw action and we all came home. I was the only one wounded." The family team dissolved after the war, but the younger Grzyb brothers still played weeknight baseball. Neighborhood veterans enjoyed pick-up games, Army against Navy, Louis chuckled. "We had a lot of fun. The losers had to pitch in and buy a keg of beer sometimes."
Like everyone else, Louis Grzyb remembers the Hog Lot because of its short left field. "Cars didn't come through (the field) too often," he said. "It was maybe 240 feet. The left fielder played in front of, on, or in back of the road." The back side was rocky and hilly. Bernard "Dusky" Stelmach, who patrolled left field for Stevens A.C. in the mid to late 1940s, played
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