From Shuba to Stevens, Guerrieri Talks Mahoning Valley Baseball
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – An inherent passion for baseball has dwelled within Vince Guerrieri since his early teens.
The 1995 Chaney High School graduate played the game as a youth, admitting he was better suited for watching than participating. “I kind of realized my limitations before high school,” he said.
So Guerrieri embraced the historical side of baseball, sharing his passion for the game’s history through his writing. On Thursday, he gave a virtual presentation on baseball in the Mahoning Valley as part of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society’s Bites and Bits of History lecture series. Guerrieri shared his findings about baseball greats with local connections, including Jimmy McAleer, George “Shotgun” Shuba, Billy Evans and Harry Stevens.
Guerrieri is the web and social media editor for The Chronicle-Telegram newspaper in Elyria. Besides working for other publications prior to his current position, Guerrieri has been a correspondent for Ohio Magazine, Smithsonian and the Politico and Deadspin websites. He has penned two books — “Ohio Sports Trivia” and “The Blue Streaks and Little Giants: More Than a Century of Sandusky and Fremont Ross Football.”
Thursday’s recorded presentation can be found HERE on the historical society’s YouTube channel.
“It was kind of fascinating to me that there was all of this baseball history around us that people may or may not know,” Guerrieri says.
His penchant for baseball could be traced back to a sixth-grade teacher named Mrs. Gooden, who swore she was related to former New York Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden. It sent the young, inquisitive Guerrieri to the former Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh for a Mets-Pirates game.
“Three Rivers Stadium was a lot of things, but not necessarily a great place to go watch a baseball game,” Guerrieri says.
A month after that game, he and his brother traveled to the former Cleveland Stadium for a New York Yankees-Cleveland Indians game.
“It was awesome with 20,000 of our closest friends,” Guerrieri says. “That’s how the Tribe got their hooks into me.”
He was enamored with collecting baseball cards and viewing MLB statistics each Sunday in The Vindicator, along with obtaining The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer and former Pittsburgh Press for in-depth coverage of the two local major league franchises.
It was in his seventh-grade year that Guerrieri’s writing career began to take root. That’s when he won a prize at the English Festival at Youngstown State University for one of his pieces. He enrolled at Bowling Green State University, where he graduated in 1999, and started working in the business.
“[My father] said, ‘That’s really cool – you think you can make a living at this?,’ ” Guerrieri said of his English Festival award. “I said, ‘No, but now that you bring it up I’d like to try.’ ”
The late Mike Royko, whose syndicated columns appeared in The Vindicator when Guerrieri was a child, had a profound impact on him. Guerrieri recalls Royko’s book about former Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley.
“There were bells going off as I was reading it,” Guerrieri says. “It was amazing.”
As for his work, he compiles a vast amount of research for his historical pieces on baseball – as evidenced by the number of footnotes at the end of the articles.
He’s a member of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, which provides him access to the vast databases of The Sporting News and membership to Newspapers.com, a repository of archived publications.
In addition, he has a Cleveland Public Library card, granting him access to The Plain Dealer and New York Times editions going back before the Civil War. Sometimes, his trips take him to college libraries.
“It’s just knowing where to look,” Guerrieri says.
When he ventures back to the Mahoning Valley, the view of the downtown Youngstown skyline from Interstate 680 is one of many sights Guerrieri loves to see.
A few slices from the Avalon Downtown pizzeria on Federal Street and talking about the city’s rich sports history transports him to his youth. His parents and brother still reside in the Mahoning Valley.
“I still see a lot of the places I used to go,” he says. “It has changed a lot since I lived here. But I mean, it’s still home.”
Pictured: Vince Guerrieri stands next to a historic picture of downtown Youngstown inside the office of The Business Journal.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.