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Duffey takes the mound once more

August 04, 2007|By LARRY YANOS

At age 77, Ellis Duffey still feels he can throw strikes.

Duffey had another opportunity to try Friday night at Municipal Stadium when the Hagerstown resident threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Hagerstown Suns' game against Greenville (S.C.).

"It sure brings back memories," Duffey said earlier this week. "I pitched in all-star games at the stadium in 1949 and 1950 (as a member of the St. James team in the Independent League). I always liked the place. I threw strikes back then ..... I hope I can throw another strike on Friday.

"My son, Joel, said he was going to bring his entire family out to watch. I told him I'm looking to throw one pitch, not a complete game."

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Duffey has been involved in amateur baseball and softball for many years. He once faced Hall of Famer Don Larsen and Frank Malzone in Hawaii.

"I did good that day," Duffey said. "I pitched OK and hit OK."

Following graduation from Hagerstown High School in 1948, Duffey worked at M.P. Mller's for two years before entering the Navy on Dec. 27, 1950.

"I was stationed at the Naval Air Station at Barber's Point and Larsen was stationed at Fort Shafter. In 1952, our team faced Larsen's team. He could throw the ball and could hit the ball - he led the league in home runs," Duffey said. "I did hit the ball off of him."

Duffey said former Boston Red Sox third baseman Malzone also was a teammate of Larsen's.

"They had a bunch of professional players on that team. They were really tough," Duffey said.

Duffey, who retired from M.P. Mller's after 44 years of service, never lost his love for sports.

"I played a lot of senior softball," Duffey said. "When I first got involved, the leagues were for 60-and-under, then 55-and-under and then 50-and-under. It got to be tougher every year with the 'younger folks' involved. I played until last year when I had a hip problem. I played a long time and enjoyed it."

These days, he spends time following professional and amateur sports and doing community work with his wife, Peggy.

For more than 30 years, the Duffeys have been sharing their musical talents with local nursing home residents as a duo called The Harmonizers.

Before that, they sang with their four children, calling themselves the Half Dozen Duffeys.

"Staying active, that's what it's all about," Duffey said.

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