The number 1700 can be a small number or a large number, depending on the context, of course. For example, 1700 seconds isn’t even a half-hour, and in football terms, 1700 inches isn’t quite half of a football field. On the other hand, 1700 years is over a millennia and a half – 1700 years ago the Roman Empire was still intact – and 1700 days from today (i.e., New Year’s Day, 2021) is August 27, 2025!
Nevertheless, 1700 is the approximate number of games that Rick Moatz and Craig Eddinger have coached for the legendary Boyertown Bears Legion Baseball team. It was a career that began in 1988 with a franchise-record 64 victories and a National runners-up title; it was a career whose ending was marred by a covid-induced, “unofficial” season in that infamous year of 2020. In those 32 seasons, however, Rick and Craig were at the helm for many, many, many memorable games – and notable achievements.
The list of those memorable games is long and exhaustive, and mentioning ANY of the games leaves the author open to criticism for missing other, perhaps equally memorable, games (given that “memorableness,” like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder). For example, I could mention the memorable, doubleheader sweep of Chester, New Jersey, at Bear Stadium that sent the Bears to the 2004 Legion World Series in Corvallis, OR (where they would finish tie for third). There were the many memorable battles with West Lawn over the years (in particular, the early-1990s), including a regular-season game in July 1992 that I still consider to be the most thrilling sporting event that I have ever watched. One could also mention the game of Friday, June 19, 2009. It may have been a non-league exhibition game (vs. LaPlata Maryland), but the 8-6 victory over the powder blue – clad Marylandians was coaching victory #1000 for the Moatz-Eddinger duo.
But even then, I would have forgotten the memorable duels with Shillington, the bitter battles with Brooklawn, and indeed, the surreal, “two-out-inning” victory over Downingtown in the 2013 State Tournament. I would have also forgotten to mention the many different locations where the duo coached – from countless sites in Pennsylvania to states such as New Jersey, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Oregon.
Instead, I could also highlight the achievements that the coach duo achieved in their Legion careers. Under the Moatz-Eddinger coaching guidance, the Bears have compiled an amazing record of 1311-373-15 (including a 550-87 record in the Berks County League) since their first season of 1988. Those statistics translate into an overall winning percentage of .776 and .863 in the league (only once in their tenure has the team finished a season with an overall winning percentage under .600). In their amazing dossier of coaching accomplishments, the Moatz/Eddinger team has notched 14 Berks County titles, 14 Region 2 titles, 13 State Titles, 3 Mid-Atlantic National Regional titles, 3 appearances in the American Legion World Series, and 1 National Runner-Up.
To put it in simpler terms, the Moatz-Eddinger duo won three-quarters of their approximately 1700 games over 32 seasons. Think about that for a minute.
But instead, the author wants to extend his own personal congratulations to Coaches Moatz and Eddinger with his own personal memory, his own personal sentiment. For me, the memory that I will always have of Rick and Craig as the head coaches of this incredible Legion baseball program goes beyond the achievements and titles, the games won, even the number of young men whose lives were guided in such a positive way.
No, for me, the lasting memory that I will always have of Rick and Craig is, quite simply, those many, many games that I listened to on the radio as a fan. Whether driving home from my own softball games, running down to the hotel lobby while on vacation, or attending as a fan – and then as a volunteer – the Bears were a friend with whom I spent my summer evenings like an annual rite of passage in summer. They were a treat for me, especially after the MLB strike of 1994 soured me on pro baseball (with the exception of 1998). And the men who were there guiding the process of the Bears’ making memories for me over all of those years were Rick Moatz and Craig Eddinger.
For all that you have done for the Boyertown Bears Legion Baseball program and the Boyertown Area School District as a whole, I simply say: well done, Rick and Craig. I salute you.
BEAR TRACKS: As of January 1, 2021, the “official” record for the Moatz-Eddinger coaching duo is stands at 1311-373-15 – a total 1699 games. The author used the figure 1700 for the simple reason that tallies of tie games are not yet available for the 1991 and 1998 seasons.
- Rob Zambanini