No one would ever describe "Doc" and "Chappy" as two peas in a pod.
"Doc" was a huge, robust man. His ample girth spilled over the sides of the folding chair he occupied on the Coaldale sidelines. "happy" often looked no bigger than the ever-present cigar extending from his mouth. But while they were at opposite poles appearance-wise, they had one powerful common denominatoryoung people.
Coaldale Mayor John J. Radocha described the late Tom "Doc" Raymer and Joe "Chappy" Sharpe as two men who helped "to "hape the lives of the youth of Coaldale" in a dedication at the Coaldale complex field last weekend. The field will now be forever known as the Thomas "Doc" RaymerJoseph "Chappy" Sharpe Memorial Park.
No name could be more appropriate. No locations for the park could be better suited. For it was on this exact location, at the south end zone of the former Coaldale High School football field, where "Doc" spent decades teaching youngsters the fine art of winning football and track. Later the field became the second site of the Coaldale Little League program, a dream "Chappy" fulfilled when he founded and anchored the Coaldale C.H.O.S.E. (Church. Home. Organization. School. Environment) program.
I can speak on the profound influence both men had on the young people of my generation with some authority. Both had an impact on my life, but in different ways.
"Doc" was one of my high school coaches and teachers. He was gruff. He was funny. He was definitely an original. "chappy" was the town's mayor for several terms. He led with quiet example. He was a father figure. Even today, more than 30 years after they played such a significant role in my life, I think about these two men in two distinct ways.
"Doc's" memory evokes a smile. The man saddled me with more nicknames than I can count. Each seemed appropriate for the particular occasion. My favorite was "Engleheart." It was derived from the summer between my junior and senior years when I went to the Jersey shore to work. The fact that I worked in Asbury Park didn’t matter to "Doc." He thought I went to Englewood to spend the summer. So, when summer football practice finally started 'Engleheart" emerged, playing right end for the Coaldale Tigers.
"Doc" taught health. He also practiced it, again in his own, indomitable way. One morning I came to class with the worst sore throat of my life (or so I thought). "Mr. Raymer," I said. "I don't know if I"ll make practice today. My throat's killing me." "Come back here, Engleheart," he said, motioning me to the back of the classroom. There he took out what looked like a three-gallon bottle of Mercurochrome and a two-foot long stick with a cotton ball attached to the top. He dabbed the stick in the bottle and proceeded to paint my throat with the foul tasting substance. I gagged until I thought my eyeballs would fall out. But I made practice that day and every day for the rest of the season. And I can't remember having a sore throat since.
Despite his eccentricities, "Doc" was a great coach. I know he made me a better player. He’s enshrined in the Carbon County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame and enshrined in the hearts of a lot of Coaldale kids who played ball for him.
"Chappy" Sharpe was a product of the old Coaldale Church League, as good a brand of semi-pro baseball that was ever seen in these parts. A St. Mary's graduate, the Bundy Tubing Company worker combined his love of baseball with his love for children to form the Coaldale C.H.O.S.E. organization back in the 1950s.
Coaldale then had its own Little League and Teener League. We'd parade in our uniforms each Memorial Day from one end of town to the other to inaugurate the season. But C.H.O.S.E. was more than baseball. It involved all of Coaldale, and almost all of its kids'. The mayor's greatest legacy, perhaps, is the fact his organization is still going strong 40 years later.
There aren't enough kids in Coaldale to field its own Little League program (Coaldale youngsters now play in the Lansford Little League), but C.H.O.S.E. is still very active with its Mini-Olympics and other worthwhile programs...”