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Nanty Glo sports legend

Charlie Metro, long-time baseball player, manager, coach and scout, passes away

Charlie Metro autograph on a 1967 Topps baseball card.

Charlie Metro went to the "natural grass diamond in the sky" at 3:33 p.m. on March 18, 2011, at age 92. Charlie had three loves in his life: his wife of 70 years, Helen; baseball, and horses. He was one of the fortunate people in the world who got to work at what they love. Charlie started his baseball career in 1937 with the Easton, Maryland, Browns.

In 1939, he was playing for the Mayfield, Kentucky, Browns when a cute little "Dixie Cupcake" caught his eye. They were married on April 3, 1941, in Texarkana, Texas, at the start of the baseball season. Charlie played for the Philadelphia Athletics and the Detroit Tigers during World War Two. His family always teased him about having to go down to the minors when the good ball players came back in 1945.

Metro started his managing career as a Manager/Player with the Bisbee Bees in 1947. His managing career spanned 1947 through 1971 including the Denver Bears, Vancouver Canucks, Tulsa Oilers, Chicago Cubs & White Sox and the Kansas City Royals. He then took his talent for spotting exceptional players to the scouting part of baseball. He was the first scout to not list race on his scouting reports, as he did not believe it was a factor in a man's talent. More on Charlie's career can be found at www.baseball-references.com.

Charlie was born in Nanty Glo on April 28, 1918, to Metro and Pauline Moreskonich, the eldest son of nine children. When he started playing baseball, he used Metro for his last name as a sports reporter told him that Moreskonich would not fit in a newspaper box score.

His father was a coal miner and Charlie went to work in the mines after school and in the summers when he was a teenager. There was a mine explosion in 1937 and Charlie rescued his father and his father's best friend from the mine. The concussion he suffered in the explosion made him 4-F during World War Two so he was the Chief Inspector at the munitions plant in Mayfield, Kentucky, during the off season of 1942, 1943, and 1944.

When Charlie accepted the manager position with the Denver Bears, he and Helen decided to make Colorado their off-season home. In 1962, they purchased acreage northwest of Arvada and started a ranch. Charlie dealt in cattle for a couple of years. Then a long-time friend, Bish Jenkins, sent Charlie and Helen their first registered quarter horse mare. It was love at first sight! They spent the next thirty years raising quarter horses, crossing the mares with Thoroughbreds, most notably Dance Lesson who held the record for the three furlongs at 32.5 seconds.

After retirement, Charlie and his friend, Tom Altherr, collaborated on his autobiography, Safe by a Mile [see report below]. He also created Hitters Hands with a local Denver artist. Life size hands of Baseball Hall of Fame inductees were cast in bronze for sale to the public.

"Papa," as Charlie was known by his family, is survived by the love of his life, Helen, his daughter, Elena, and sons, Charles, Jr. (Bhavani), Stephen W. (Janet) and Geoff S. (Jennifer), 11 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren, his sister, Pauline Loyning of Montana, and brothers, Joe Metro (Rose) of Pennsylvania and Jim Metro (Maggie) of Wyoming and three World Series Rings from the Dodgers.

A Memorial Service was held in Buckingham, Virginia, where Charlie and Helen have lived for the past three years. In Colorado, Charlie's family and friends are gathering for a Celebration of His Life on Saturday, April 9, 1-4 p.m. at the home of one of his granddaughters. For directions, please call Elena Metro at 303-810-7332.


Metro memory

March 25, 2011

In September 1965, my brother-in-law and his son went to Yankee Stadium to a game. I noticed Charlie Metro on the roster as a coach. I went to the dugout and asked if I could see Charlie. They told me the team did not come out on the field before the game. I told him to tell Charlie I was from his home town . Charlie came out and shook my hand and signed my ticket. His family lived in our neighborhood. I still have those tickets but the writing is fading. I grew up with his brothers and sisters.

Charlie (Barosky) Mutchka


   

Nanty Glo baseball great Charlie Metro's memoirs published

Nanty Glo native and professional baseball great Charlie Metro has authored a 540-page book. Safe by a Mile, recounting his experiences and observations on the game and life, being published by the University of Nebraska Press and set for release in March 2002.

The publisher's prerelease publicity says:

"Charlie Metro's career runs the gamut of the specialties found in baseball—player, coach, manager, scout, inventor. Metro has lived baseball at every level from the Great Depression to today's multimillion dollar contracts. One of a kind, Metro's life mirrors the astounding changes in the game as well as in the nation. Metro's tale is full of heart and a wealth of anecdotes, the result of a fascinating life and a true love of the game.

"Charlie Metro was born Charles Moreskonich in Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania, in 1919. He played in the major leagues from 1943 to 1945 with the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Athletics. He managed for parts of two seasons, with the 1962 Cubs and the 1970 Kansas City Royals. He also coached the 1965 Chicago White Sox and the 1982 Oakland Athletics. Although he had far longer service in the minor leagues, he will probably be best remembered as one of the great scouts and teachers in baseball history."

A 1937 graduate from Nanty Glo High School, Metro grew up here in a family of four boys and five girls. Married to a Mayfield, Kentucky, native, the former Helen D. Bullock, for 61 years, Charlie told the Home Page in an interview from his home in Denver that he and his wife are parents of a daughter, Elena, and three sons, "Bud" (Charles, Jr.), Steve, Geoffrey, and grandparents of "a million grandkids and great-grandkids." He reported that the book will include photographs from his childhood and high school years in Nanty Glo, as well as the career in professional baseball that has taken him all over the United States. He said he is also involved in an art project with a sculptor, creating bronze representations of Baseball Hall of Fame players holding a baseball bat. (Photos from the book and showing his sculpture will be added to this page when available.)

Metro told the Home Page he still occasionally visits old friends in Nanty Glo and has never forgotten his roots. He has no family members still living in the Valley, the closest being a brother, retired from teaching school in Camp Hill, near Harrisburg.

The University of Nebraska Press released the following praises for Metro by colleagues in the sport:

"One of the best baseball minds that I've ever known."—Buck O'Neil, Baseball Hall of Fame's Veterans' Committee.

"Charlie was a master at running the game and getting the most out of all the players. . . . The most important lesson I learned from Charlie was that baseball was a serious business and when you get to the park every day it's your job. So get serious!"—Brooks Robinson, winner of sixteen consecutive Gold Glove Awards.

Charlie "was very demanding, and he insisted that we play hard every day."—Lou Piniella, Seattle Mariners manager.

"He was a good, hard-nosed manager."—Billy Williams, Chicago Cubs coach.

Metro's book is coauthored by Tom Altherr, a professor of history at the Metropolitan State College of Denver and a coauthor of Sports in North America: A Documentary History.

Safe by a Mile can be ordered from the University of Nebraska Press at the cover price, $29.95, or from Amazon.com at a discounted price.

This page is UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Additional information and photographs will be added as received. Several letters on the Nanty Glo Home Page Forum relate memories of Charlie Metro:

Other reference pages, not connected with this page, give Metro's managerial record and playing statistics.

Below is the original tribute to Charlie Metro on the Home Page, from 2000.


Charlie Metro remembered: Nanty Glo
friends, Big League Baseball career

Nanty Glo's salutary contribution to the world of professional sports is Charlie Metro, nee
Charles Moresconich, a graduate of Nanty Glo High School who joined the Johnstown Johnnies minor league baseball team and went on to play with the Detroit Tigers and several other Major League teams and to manage and coach with several others, including the Kansas City Royals, Oakland A's, and Chicago Cubs. Now retired and residing in Colorado, he was brought to the attention of Home Page readers in a letter from George Dilling on March 11 2000. Subsequently, LeRoy “Lee” McCandless sent in his reminiscences of Charlie from his youth and following his career, and raised a question about Metro's current whereabouts. Frank Charney wrote in that Metro is now in Colorado, and after that, Lee received a call from Charlie Metro, which is recounted in some detail below. His letter to Frank Charney was shared to the Home Page.—Webmaster
Hello Frank:

Been on a three-day trip to Key West so am just getting back to “business” after a short hiatus. But lots of news! When I got home, a message from Charlie Metro was on my answering machine, asking me to call him back, as he wanted to talk to me. So I did immediately and we talked for an hour.

First of all he wanted me to know that both his sister, Catherine, and brother John had passed away, but broyher Joe is still living and retired from being a teacher and a principal somewhere in New Jersey. After 33 years as a teacher and principal in both Pennsylvania and Ohio, I never ran into him, although he too went by the name of Metro.

Charlie said he changed his name to Metro as a young boy because Moresconich was just too long; so he only used that as his middle name. He gave me a quick overview of his professional baseball career starting at Johnstown for $60 a month. But he would not sign a contract that night we left him because he told the business manager he wanted $100 and insisted on it before he would sign. The business manager said, “Son, why are you insisting on a hundred dollars?” Charlie replied, “Because I want to buy my mother a washing machine.” In a few minutes the man returned with check for $100. Charlie said, “what's this?” He refused to take it and said, “Lee, I had never seen a check before, didn't know what it was and told him I wanted the hundred in cash...all in one dollar bills.” In a few minutes the man came with one-hundred ones, all wrapped with a rubber band.

He immediately hitchhiked back to Nanty Glo, gave the money to his father for the washing machine, and the next morning got a ride back to Johnstown on the “bread truck,” where he signed for the $60 per month. He said, “I learned to live on $20 a month, save 20, and send 20 home to Mom. In those days we were given $5 a day for meal money, whereas today they get $85.00 per day for meal money.”

Another story he told me was the day he reported to the Detroit Tigers before they went to spring training. They gave him a contract for $1800. He said, “I'm supposed to be in the major leagues, so why are you giving me a minor league contract?” and walked away. In a few days he got a contract in th mail for $3,600, with a note from the general manager (which he still has). The note said, “I just hope you are only half as good as you think you are, you cocky son-of-a-bitch!”

So he went to spring training with the Tigers. In his career, he played for Connie Mack in Philadelphia, and briefly for Casey Stengel somewhere along the line. I don't remember the town or city. After his playing days were over, he went to managing in the minor leagues before he was called to manage Kansas City. In the minors, he managed 11 future Hall of Fame players, including Ernie Banks, Jim Bunning, Brooks Robinson, Steve Carlton, Billy Williams, and Lou Brock.

Correction, Frank: I mentioned Joe as his brother; now that I reread my notes it was Jim, now living in Wyoming after retiring from the Marines. He does try to get back to Nanty Glo whenever he can, as he was put in the Cambria County Hall of Fame; plus both parents and Catherine are buried there. He and his wife will be celebrating their 59th anniversary next month, still together in spite of moving 36 times during their marriage.

They have three or four children, most of them grownup by now. Also, he will be 82 years of age next month, but sounds strong and chipper on the phone. Says he is in good health, and he sounds that way. But he sure likes to recall his old baseball days.

When I mentioned Snorky, he immediately recalled Yokitis, and said, “He was my mentor! Taught me everything I needed to know about baseball.” Also said he remembered Alex Charney very well....

In conclusion to thisrather lengthy letter, Charlie is writing a book with a “ghostwriter.” They have two chapters to go. Name of the book: I Was Safe By A Mile [now, Safe by a Mile—Webmaster].

Says he just loves hearing from people in his past, so if you know anyone else who knows Charlie, give them his address, and I will too. (He says he was always Charlie, and never Charles, except in school when he got in trouble with one of his teachers).

Thanx for all you help, Frank. I could not have made the connection without you! Best regards and God bless.

Lee and Lois Leelo

 

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© Jon Kennedy 2000, 2011

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From the United Mine Workers Journal, June-July 1999
Click anywhere on this row.

Remembering the Coal Leagues Between 1945 and 1959, coal operators throughout central and western Pennsylvania sponsored baseball teams, and many of the players were UMWA members.