Like all sports, American Legion Baseball has had its share of dynasties.
But no ALB team has been more dominant than Brooklawn, N.J., was in the 2010s.
Post 72 not only set American Legion World Series history by making five straight appearances from 2011 to 2015, it set more history with three straight title game appearances and became the fifth back-to-back ALWS champion in 2013 and 2014.
Unfortunately, the man who built the program from the ground up, Joe Barth Sr., was unable to attend the 2013 title run and died at 93 on March 1, 2014.
It helped create a motivation that his son and current coach Dennis Barth says has been there since the day he was born.
“Every year our goal is to win the World Series,” Dennis Barth said. “It took my pops 40 years to do it — and I was an assistant coach and my brother Joe (Barth Jr.) was the head coach in 1991 — and we won it again in 2001 before those last two titles.”
Dennis Barth was actually born during Brooklawn’s second of 16 ALWS appearances in 1961.
And because of the pursuit of an ALWS title has been a Barth family goal since Joe Barth Sr., started the Post 72 program in 1952, the ALWS is part of a family tradition.
“When I grew up, if we didn’t make it to the World Series, our family vacation was at the Legion World Series,” Dennis Barth said. “My father and my brothers and I would watch the games and try to figure who we thought was going to win every year that we weren’t there.
“So I’ve definitely grown up around it.”
Brooklawn’s run of ALWS appearances was sparked by an ALB-record 17-game regional winning streak from 2011 to 2014 and a stretch of 26 wins in 27 games in regional competition from 2011 to 2019.
The 2011 to 2015 run includes a 250-34 overall record.
It also set up the back-to-back titles of 2013 and 2014.
“Truthfully, in 2011 and 2012 we had more veteran teams but we lost to good teams each year,” Dennis Barth said of a 6th-place finish in 2011 and runner-up finish in 2012. “We had lost a lot of guys from ‘12 and were kinda starting over.
“But we had (Mike) Shawaryn back who was a good pitcher. And that was a good start. We also had (John) Murphy that was a real good pitcher. And Tyler Mondile who ended up being a high draft pick. So we had some pitching. But our team itself — the eight guys in the field — other than our catcher (Jon Theckston), it was all new guys.”
Shawaryn, Murphy and Mondile led a team that went 4-1 in the ALWS.
The only loss came to Petaluma, Calif., by a 14-4 score in a game in which Brooklawn knew it was already in the title game. And the next day after Petaluma eliminated Waipahu, Hawaii, 8-2, Post 72 avenged the earlier loss with a 10-0 win in seven innings by the 10-run “mercy rule.”
Pitcher Shawaryn, first baseman Anthony Harrold and third baseman Joe Cieri earned 2013 all-tournament honors with Harrold taking George W. Rulon American Legion Player of the Year and Louisville Slugger (.529 average) honors and Shawaryn taking the Bob Feller Pitching Award (33 strikeouts).
Shawaryn (Maryland), Harrold (Wagner and Rowan), Cieri (Maryland), Murphy (Maryland) and Theckston (Rutgers-Camden) are among 14 eventual collegians on the 2013 team; Zach Welsher (Rutgers-Camden), Steven Mondile (Longwood), Michael Garofolo (Valley Forge), Fran Kinsey (Iona), Phillip Dickinson (Wagner), Jonathan Gonzalez (Rowan and Radford), Sean Breen (Iona), Matthew Parr (Rowan) and Pete Farlow (Wagner and Rutgers-Camden) are the others.
And Shawaryn, Mondile and Gonzalez eventually played professionally. Shawaryn, a fifth-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2016, pitched in the majors for that organization in 2019, Mondile was a sixth-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2016 and Gonzalez played Independent League baseball in 2017 and 2018.
Shawaryn remains active in baseball in 2021 as he is pitching for the Kansas City Royals’ Class AAA affiliate in Omaha, Neb.
Brooklawn’s 2014 team was even more dominant, even as it suffered Post 72’s only regional loss during its five-year ALWS run.
But after losing 8-3 to Cecil, Md., in the winner’s bracket final of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Brooklawn hosted in Camden, N.J., Post 72 won its next eight games on its way to the ALWS title — and only two of those games were even close.
The 18-0 victory over Midland, Mich., in seven innings by the 10-run “mercy rule” remains the most lopsided win in ALWS title game history and the largest shutout victory in ALWS title game history.
“It’s fun no matter how you win,” Dennis Barth said. “And it is less nerve-wracking when you win like that because there’s so many close games throughout a year.”
Pitchers Eric Schorr and Mondile, first baseman Harrold, second baseman Breen and outfielder Farlow earned 2014 all-tournament honors with Breen taking George W. Rulon American Legion Player of the Year, Louisville Slugger (.575 average) and the Dr. Irvin “Click” Cowger RBI Award (29) honors.
Schorr (Rowan-Gloucester), Harrold (Wagner and Rowan), Breen (Iona) and Farlow (Wagner and Rutgers-Camden) are among 13 future collegians on the 2014 team; Donald “Tre” Todd (SUNY-Albany, Hartford Community College and Liberty), Eric Grafton (Mercer County), Dickinson (Wagner), Joe Bobiak (Virginia Wesleyan), Ray Taylor (Rutgers-Camden), Rocco Mazzeo (Gloucester County Community College), Austin Darrow (Rowan and Southern Connecticut State), Kevin Terifay (Rutgers-Camden) and John Malatesta (New Jersey Tech) were the others.
And Tyler Mondile and Todd, a 21st-round draft pick in 2018 of the Los Angeles Dodgers, have played professionally.
By winning a second straight title, Brooklawn joined Oakland, Calif. (1949 and 1950), Cincinnati, Ohio (1957 and 1958), West Covina, Calif. (1970 and 1971) and Rio Piedras, P.R. (1973 and 1974) as back-to-back ALWS winners.
“We’ve certainly been blessed with talent, committed players over the years,” Dennis Barth said. “They know they’re going to play every day all summer long and our goals will be high.”