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HISTORY LIVES

Baseball’s Bobby Shantz

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Robert Clayton Shantz, a Pottstown native, signed up as a pitcher with Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in 1949. He made the American League All-Star team in 1951 then had his career year in 1952, leading the league in wins and earning the Most Valuable Player award.

He followed the Athletics when they moved to Kansas City in 1955, then was traded to the Yankees in 1957.

He pitched in two World Series (1957 and 1960) during four seasons there. He went on to play for the expansion Washington Senators, the Houston Colt .45s, the St. Louis Colts, and the Philadelphia Phillies. A highly skilled fielder, Shantz won eight consecutive Golden Glove Awards in his 16-year career and was a three-time All Star pitcher.

The Pit-Catcher Lanes, built in 1958 at 242 E. Butler Avenue in Chalfont, was owned by John Finkbeiner, Joe Astroth (Chalfont resident and major league baseball catcher) and Bobby Shantz (pitcher), hence the name. Shantz bought the bowling lanes from his partners; and in 1965 Bobby Shantz’s Bull-Pen Dairy Bar opened next door, offering fine ice cream and a wide variety of hot sandwiches.

Its walls were lined with some of Shantz’s personal baseball mementoes. Pit-Catcher lanes and the Bull-Pen eventually closed and stood abandoned for many years. The building was finally razed in 2020, and the site is now part of The Reserve at Chalfont townhomes, currently under construction.

Bobby Shantz turned 96 years old on Sept. 26 and he lives in Ambler.

Source: “A History of Chalfont,” April 1977
Doylestownhistorical.org


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