The Leckrone, PA native played on some outstanding teams at German during the late 1950ís and early ë60ís.
ìI concentrated on baseball,î Marovic recalled. ìI was kind of small ñ I did everything that kids did growing up, but I just concentrated on baseball and I ran track a little bit. Adam Donnelly was the track coach, and he always wanted me to run, but baseball and track coincided with one another and sometimes when I finished a baseball game, Iíd go run track for him.î
Marovic is proud of the success the Uhlans had on the baseball diamond.
ìWe won the section in 1960 and 1961,î he remembered. ìWe were undefeated both years, but there were no playoffs. Once you won the Fayette County Association that was it. We had no WPIAL playoffs, but we played South Union, North Union and Frazier and teams like that. It was just a county thing and once you finished in the county you basically were finished.î
The Uhlans were coached Joe ìHootî Savannick.
ìSavannick taught at the high school and coached there for a few years,î Marovic offered. ìHe was an old pitcher and he loved baseball; he wanted us to do everything right as a pitcher ñ donít walk anybody, throw strikes and change speeds. We had a good team and John ìLeftyî Radosevich and I pitched most of the games and that was quite a one-two combination and in those days thatís all you needed ñ if you had two good pitchers because you played every couple of days so you had rest and if you had two good pitchers you could win.
ìI enjoyed high school baseball. It wasnít as well publicized as it is today ñ now they go all the way to the WPIAL and the state championships.î
One of the big keys to Marovicís development as a player was American Legion baseball and the Fayette County League.
ìI played at Point Marion Legion because the Masontown Legion didnít have a team around when I first started,î Marovic reported. ìMost of us who played at German a lot of us went up to Point Marion and we had some outstanding teams at Point Marion. Bud Yednock was the Point Marion coach at the time and we had some real good teams.
ìI played in the County League and I was inducted into the Fayette County League Hall of Fame in 1993. It was outstanding baseball and when I went to West Virginia our coach Steve Harrick would want our pitchers to come down into the County League and pitch. He said if you can pitch in the Fayette County League you can pitch on any college level. I played for Pals Club in the County League and I played with Tommy Croftcheck and Fred Answine and Fred Mazurek.î
One highlight of Marovicís early career occurred in 1959.
ìLefty Radosevich and I played on a team in Uniontown in 1959,î Marovic recalled. ìIt was the VFW teener team and Uniontown had the state playoffs at Bailey Park and we were like 15 years old. What they basically did was recruit 15 year olds from the legion teams because Uniontown was the sponsor that year and we were recruited to come and play on the Uniontown VFW team. We wound up winning the national championship. We had Radosevich and me and Bill Vargo from Perryopolis, Sheridan McPherson from Carmichaels and we were the four pitchers on that team.
ìThey played the state tournament in Uniontown and we won the state championship beating DuBois 15-3 and then we went to Hershey, PA for the national championship and we won the seven games there in the double elimination tournament and we didnít lose a game. The unusual part of that was that all four of the pitchers were left-handed ñ we didnít have a right-hander in the rotation.î
Marovic graduated from German in 1961 and turned to college baseball.
ìWhen I was playing in the County League the coach from West Virginia Steve Harrick came down and was watching some of the County League games,î Marovic said. ìA couple of the guys that were on the team at WVU played for Pals Club ñ Eddie Tekavec and Joe Hatella. Harrick came down to watch them play and he saw Radosevich and me, and we had already graduated from high school and he offered us scholarships and we went as a package deal.î
After playing freshman baseball in 1962, Marovic started putting up some solid numbers in 1963.
He batted .257 for the Mountaineers in 1963 with one home run, 12 RBIs and 27 stolen bases. That team finished 30-3 and went 1-2 in the NCAA Tournament in Gastonia, NC. They lost to Wake Forest 4-3 and then downed Auburn 2-1 before losing the final game against Wake Forest 12-8.
ìI could run and they made sure that I ran,î Marovic stated. ìMy sophomore year we started out 29-1 and we were ranked as high as third in the country and we went down to North Carolina and we left so many men on base in the first game and Coach Harrick went ballistic ñ we just could not get the clutch hit, but we had an outstanding season.î
In his junior year in 1964 Marovic had a monster season hitting .404 en route to being named WVUís first First Team All American. He had two home runs and 17 RBIs and swiped 27 bases. The team posted a 24-5 record including a 0-2 mark at the NCAA tournament at Gastonia, NC.
ìThat was my year in 1964,î Marovic opined. ìI broke out and led the team in just about every category. That was the culmination of an excellent year ñ the sad thing is we didnít play enough games, but that was always a problem for northern teams and is still a problem today. The hardware was nice and they had a nice banquet for me at WVU and I still have the All American ring.
Marovic endured a nightmare season in 1965 batting .175, but still managed to steal 22 bases. The team finished 19-9 and did not make the post season.
ìI was injured and the only people who knew about it were Coach Harrick and a couple of other guys,î Marovic lamented. ìI messed my knee up playing basketball over the winter, and I used to run all the time and I was running one day and something snapped and I hit the floor and it took a long time for that to heal. It put a real damper on my career in my final season. It happens, guys get injured and Iím not going to use that as an excuse.î
Marovic also laments the fact that his senior year ruined any chances of playing professional baseball.
ìI had some offers after my junior year,î Marovic explained. ìUnfortunately, my dad and my coach said if you do well your senior year they will give you more money ñ so youíll be better off to play another year. I came back and looking back maybe I should have left. Baltimore offered me a contract when I tried out at Memorial Stadium and they wanted to sign me. I always think what if after what happened and time went on.î
In 1965, Marovic was featured on the cover of the 1965 Collegiate Baseball Guide. He still holds the WVU school record with 74 career stolen bases and was inducted into West Virginia University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.
Marovic, 73, got his degree from West Virginia and then spent 38 years teaching in the German and then Albert Gallatin School districts, before he retired in 2004. Marovic was married for 32 years and his wife Evelyn passed away in 1998. They had two children Dave and Donna. He remarried to Joy Anderson, a nurse, and they have been married 10 years. She has two sons by a previous marriage Johnny and Joby that Marovic is very close to.
ìI grew up in Leckrone and played at the Leckrone ball field and it was like my second home,î Marovic said. ìI enjoyed my childhood and my teenage years and I think I enjoyed them a lot more than kids do today. Iíve got no complaints; Iíve had a great life.î
George Von Benko's "Memory Lane" columns appear in the Sunday editions of the Herald-Standard. He also hosts a sports talk show on WMBS-AM radio from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays