Editor’s note: This is the third and final part highlighting the members of the 2022 Somerset County Baseball Old-Timers Hall of Fame class.
The Somerset County Baseball Old-Timers will host the 25th annual Hall of Fame induction picnic and ceremony from noon to 5 pm Aug. 13, at the Stoystown American Legion Post 257. The induction ceremony will begin at 2 pm
Hall of Fame class of 2022Meet the members of Somerset County Baseball Old-Timers’ 2022 Hall of Fame class
Hall of Fame Class Part IMeet the 1st three members of Somerset County Baseball Old-Timers’ 2022 Hall of Fame class
Bimeal was a four-year starter for Conemaugh Township High School from 1996 to 1999, earning the Somerset County Most Valuable Player honors in both 1998 and 1999. Following his high school days, Bimeal was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 35th round. He played in the Blue Jays Minor League organization from 1999 through 2002.
Bimeal then signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003. His time in the Pirates Minor League system ran through 2005. During the 2003 season when pitching for the Williamsport Crosscutters, Bimeal had a season-best ERA of 1.91 as the Crosscutters won their league championship.
Bimeal was hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a scouting supervisor in October of 2006, a position he still holds today. He currently supervises Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. He has signed over 20 players including Jordy Mercer, Matt Hague, Mitch Keller, Geoff Hartlieb and Josh D. Smith.
He and his wife Kristen have a daughter Taylor Kate and son Blake Bimeal.
For the better part of the last 40 years, baseball has been life for Bart Close. It started around the age of 7, tagging along with his older brother, Scott to play wiffleball games with the neighborhood boys. From that point on, every spring through fall was spent on the diamond.
Bart’s playing career started in the Somerset Little League playing for the SDC team, where he fell in love with catching and then moved on to the IGA team in the Senior League.
After that, he began playing for his father, Randy for the Somerset Baseball Club – Post 181 American Legion team. In 1991, he was selected to play in the Pennsylvania American Legion East-West All-Star Game, where he was selected as the MVP.
During that time, he played high school baseball for Somerset from 1989-1992, where he was a member of teams that won three Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference titles and had two Elite 8 finishes in the PIAA playoffs. He finished his junior year with a .489 batting average, along with 13 home runs, and collected 54 RBIs.
He played well enough to attract the attention of several colleges and decided to accept a baseball scholarship to the University of Michigan. In his first four collegiate at-bats, he hit for the cycle against the University of Florida. He spent one year playing at Michigan and then transferred to James Madison University where he finished out his collegiate career. While at James Madison, he was a member of the 1995 team that made the College World Series Regional success at Louisiana State University. During the summer of his college years, Bart also played two years in the Shenandoah Valley Collegiate Wooden Bat League for the New Market Rebels, and the Winchester Royals.
Upon finishing college, he accepted an offer to play minor league baseball in the Frontier League. He played for the Springfield (IL) Capitals for two seasons winning two championships. He played one season with the Ohio Valley Redcoats, and finished his professional career as a player/coach with the Johnstown Johnnies.
He stepped away from baseball for a couple of years to start a family with his wife, Jennifer. They have a son, Brody, and a daughter, Teagan. Baseball came calling again, but this time it was as a coach. Bob Hay, the longtime Somerset American Legion coach approached Bart about taking over the program and he accepted. He has coached the American Legion program since 2013, along with his father and longtime coach Dave Walker. Bart has also been an assistant coach for the Somerset High School team since 2015.
Hurting the gameTravel ball hampering American Legion baseball as postseason opens
Scott Close played high school and Legion baseball for Somerset from 1983 to 1986. He also played baseball in the Johnstown AAABA League for the Coca-Cola entry in 1987 and 1988. The 1988 team represented Johnstown in the AAABA National Tournament. While attending Juniata College, Scott also played baseball each spring from 1988 through 1991.
Scott has coached baseball at the Little League level, at the scholastic level for both Shanksville-Stonycreek High School, Rockwood High School, and at the AAABA level. From 1991 to 1996, he coached the Coke-Cola/Sani-Dairy entry in the Johnstown AAABA League. The franchise made two appearances in the AAABA National Tournament in Johnstown during the 1991 and 1995 campaigns. The 1995 team was the first Johnstown entry to reach the AAABA Tournament finals since the 1956 Hahn Packing team.
Scott’s other baseball related duties include serving as board member/president of Somerset Little League and an American Legion baseball umpire. His other sports coaching activities include; girls softball coach – Somerset Area School District; girls basketball coach – North Star and Somerset Area School District; boys basketball coach – Somerset Area School District – current (16 years); track & field coach – Somerset Area School District – current (6 years); athletic director – Somerset Area School District – current (13 years).
His greatest baseball achievement was meeting his wife while coaching first base as an assistant coach at an AAABA baseball game. He has been married to Polly (McNulty) Close for 30 years. They have three children Jacob, Connor, and Elizabeth and one grandchild.
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