Donnie Lowery, a 9-year-old infielder on the first team, agreed.
“We probably would have went without a team if not for Ted,’’ he said. “Maybe the adults talked about it some, I don’t know. If they did, we didn’t know about it. We never knew there would be a team here.”
Until then it had been sandlot pick-up games at a local church yard field.
Coach Femi was serious about the game, the way it was taught and played, and even the way the players looked when they took the field.
All three — Lybarger, Lowery and son Ted — recalled the pre- and post-game uniform ritual.
There were only 12 uniforms at the time, and they needed to be handled with care. The players weren’t allowed to take them home, Ted said. The Femi basement was sort of a makeshift dressing room.
“Teddy and I were the youngest on the team, and I remember we had to go to his house and get dressed in the basement,’’ Lybarger said with a chuckle. “It’s sort of funny now. It certainly was different.”
“We went to Ted’s house, put on our uniforms, played the game, then went back to his house and changed into our clothes again,” he said. “It was a big deal back then to have a uniform. It was really something. If we took them home, we might have never take them off.”
The Femis moved to LaVale three years later, and Coach Ted went to work again. LaVale didn’t have a Little League team in 1952, but they had two in 1953.
Femi, a former masonry contractor and later owner of the LaVale Sunoco at the present day Oil Works on National Highway, helped start the two teams: the LaVale Maroons and the LaVale Orange. The Orange later became the LaVale Orioles.