Who were the Madera Pioneers you may ask?
They were one of the most successful baseball teams to play in Clearfield County in the 1930’s and 1940’s. This team played for 16 years beginning in 1932.
The team would meet at its clubhouse after work. Most of the guys were from coal-mining families. This group had tenacity and grit along with what they called “The Pioneer Spirit.”
Players would meet at their clubhouse every day after work, and then as a group walk about a mile to the practice field.
Some of the sandlot players were John Belis, Nick Mohnal, Leonard Franek, George Swistock, John Swistock, George Yebernestky, Martin O’Rousey, George Rudiak, Tony Stack, Steve Basarab, Mike Basarab, Bill Swistock, John Franek, George Hensel, Steve Matier, Mike Mohnal, Frank Mohnal, George Mohnal, Paul Fenchak, Joe Tubo, Vince Surkovic, John Orehowsky, Dan Mosley, Bob Greenaway, Andy Tutko, Paul Belis, Frank Montour, Ed Fowler, Andy Matier, Roy Iraca, Lew Swistock, Alex Russin, Ed Yurkovich and John Shumney.
The Pioneers were noted for playing as many as 80 games a season and became known as the “Playingist Team in Clearfield County.”
They won better than 60 percent of their games every season. For their accomplishments, The Pioneers ended up earning recognition in the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York.
Three of the Pioneers went on to play professional baseball, Alex Russin, Nick Mohnal and Paul Fenchak.
In the early 1960’s, Paul Fenchak wrote a letter to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He wrote of the statistics of the team along with how they promoted their team in a professional manner and helped the youth of the area prepare for playing ball for Madera High School.
He also wrote about the booklet that was written after World War II titled “The Pioneers Resume Play.” The letter was so well received that the director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame replied with a request of the Pioneers booklet and a photo of the team.
The photo and booklet reside in Cooperstown, New York at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum to be preserved and remembered for all time.