If you plan to play the lottery, you may want to consider trying 19 24 11. Those numbers certainly have proven to be fortunate for the Boyertown Legion Bears. They are the now-retired uniform numbers for three Bears playing and coaching legends - Pete Hiryak (19), Rick Moatz (24), and Craig Eddinger (11). The Bears inducted all three players into their Hall of Fame in a ceremony tonight, as part of their festivities celebrating the team's alumni over the years and the 40th Anniversary of Bear Stadium and the team's first national championship.
Pete Hiryak played for the Bears from 1975-1977. He was the ace of the pitching staff for the 1977 Bears, going 17-1. The 1977 Bears team was the first Boyertown team to win the Mid-Atlantic Regional Title and play in the Legion World Series. Hiryak's only loss in 1977 came in the World Series to eventual champion South Bend, IN. After playing collegiately at the University of Western Kentucky, Hiryak eventually returned to the Bears dugout as their pitching coach, where he coached alongside the other honorees for 25 years. During his tenure from 1994-2018, the Bears won eight State Titles (1994, 1996, 2004, 2006-09, and 2013) and two Mid-Atlantic National Regional Titles (2004, 2007). Hiryak is also a member of the Pennsylvania Legion Baseball Hall of Fame.
Rick Moatz played for the Bears from 1972-1975. After graduating from Boyertown, he played collegiately at East Stroudsburg University. He returned to the Bears as an assistant coach from 1985-1987, during which they won two State Titles (1986-87), two Mid-Atlantic National Regional Titles (1986-87) and the Legion World Series Title (1987). He became head coach of the Bears in 1988, leading them to a State Title, a Mid-Atlantic National Regional Title, and a National Runner-Up in his rookie year. Moatz led the Bears for 31 years (1988-2019), retiring after the pandemic-canceled 2020 season. Under his leadership, the Bears won 14 Berks County League Titles, 14 PA Region 2 Titles, 13 State Titles (1988-89, 1991-94, 1996, 2004, 2006-09, and 2013), three Mid-Atlantic National Regional Titles (1988, 2004, 2007), and the aforementioned National Runner-Up in 1988. His 1311 wins are the most in Pennsylvania American Legion history and believed to be second most nation-wide. Moatz is also a member of the Tri-County Sports Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Legion Baseball Hall of Fame.
Craig Eddinger played for the Bears from 1970-1972, in 1971 winning Boyertown's second PA Legion State Championship. He went on to play collegiately at St Joe's University, where he is a member of the St Joe's Sports Hall of Fame. Eddinger returned to the Bears as Rick Moatz's "right-hand man", serving as assistant coach for the Bears from 1988-2021. During the 31 seasons they wee together, the Bears won 1311 games, including a 550-87 record (.863) in the Berks County League. The Bears had a .600 or better winning percentage in all but one year of Eddinger's tenure, winning 13 State Titles (1988-89, 1991-94, 1996, 2004, 2006-09, and 2013), three Mid-Atlantic National Regional Titles (1988, 2004, 2007), and one National Runner-Up (1988). He is also a member of the Tri-County Sports Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Legion Baseball Hall of Fame.
Photos courtesy Zakrey Kranz