By TOM WILLIAMS
Harry Bakley was a very good catcher.
He caught and I pitched on some middle school baseball teams.
It all started during the first year of Ocean City Youth Athletic Association baseball. Bakley, who died last week, was on the Exchange Club team with, among others, Joe DeFranco, Gerry Fadden, Dan Money and George Rumer. I was on the Lions Club team with Jack Bello, Randy Fox, Jack Mathis and Mark Turner.
The other two teams were the Kiwanis Club, including John Cranston, Rick Howell, John Kiphorn and Butch Krattenmaker. And the St. Augustine team featuring John Burch, Charles Mumford, Harry Smith and Jim Wimberg.
We all competed during that OCYAA inaugural season and, later, on all star teams and school teams, he was my catcher.
“Bake” (only teachers called him Harry) was a good catcher who had a solid understanding of the game and a quick arm. He brought some special skills to the position.
Once in high school, he changed his focus to football and became the starting center for Fred Haack and Andy Prohaska at Ocean City High School. As a senior he was an all star at the center position.
Growing up, Bake spent a lot of time at Pop’s Sub Shop on Asbury Avenue near Sixth Street. And at The Chatterbox, Ninth Street and Central Avenue. We all just assumed he liked to eat but he might have been doing research. Because years later he would open Bakley’s Deli at Fourth Street and Ocean Avenue.
Early in life, Bake was also adamant about one thing. He believed the exhaust from buses was toxic and he would actually cover his mouth when exposed to it. In that sense, he was ahead of his time.
Bake was always fun to be around and had a great sense of humor. He also made a great sandwich – especially his Ball Park Sub, which was best with one of his home-made salads.
Harry Bakley was 77.