Before He Played for Pay . . . Mark Gubicza
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These stories concern Penn Charter's Mark Gubicza
('81), who recently
was named the Top Pitcher on our Daily News 35-Year Team. The first
was written in May '81 as the buzz mushroomed. The second was written
a month later after he was selected by the Royals in the second round.
QUAKERS STAR GUBICZA FEELS HIS PITCHING OATS
May 06, 1981
BY TED SILARY
Some stood. Others sagged into beach chairs. Some parked their butts along
low concrete walls near the benches. Others seized spots in the stands behind
first and third base.
Nearly 30 scouts, representing most teams in major league baseball, turned
out yesterday to view another awesome performance by Mark Gubicza , the current
and future pitching phenom from Penn Charter School.
Opposition was offered by Episcopal Academy, but only to a certain extent.
The Churchmen slapped 2 hits, milked 4 walks, struck out on 13 occasions and
failed to pull even one ball all game while losing, 7-0.
Almost to a man, the scouts were bug-eyed. Those unimpressed must be myopic.
"Each time I pitch, more and more scouts seem to come," noted Gubicza, a 6-
5, 210-pound righthander with a 92 MPH fastball. " Last Tuesday against
Malvern, there were as many scouts as today. This time, they did something
different. A few walked over to watch me warm up. I thought to myself, 'This
must really mean something. ' "
Many teams have already ordered two or more cross-checkers to catch
Gubicza's act and rumors are beginning to swirl like trash before a summer
storm that his name could be called in the first few rounds of the June
HIS STATISTICS read like something from a fairy tale: 7 games, 6-1 record,
43 innings pitched, 22 hits, 4 earned runs, 22 walks, 64 strikeouts, 0.65 ERA.
Mark's latest gem started in a disappointing way for no- hitter fans when
Matt Ryan, the first batter, poked a seeing-eye single that barely eluded the
reach of second baseman Brian McCloskey. Mike Trudel got the other hit, a
legitimate one-hop liner to right, as the leadoff hitter in the fourth.
Jay Curcio plated two Penn Charter runs with sacrifice flies. An RBI triple
by Ernie Barile was also a highlight.
" I'd like to pitch a no-hitter," Gubicza admitted, smiling. " I probably
won't because I want to so much.
" The last two games, the good velocity hasn't been there. Today, it took
some time to get loose. I need more work. I'm only pitching once a week
because some other guys (notably Ed Foley, junior Greg Wagner) can really
throw, too. Last Friday, I was gonna pitch the last two innings against
Germantown Academy just to get loose, but the game was called due to rain
after five. "
Meanwhile, calls continue to bombard the Gubicza household at the rate of 15
to 20 a week. Mark's father, Tony, assistant to Penn Charter Coach Rick
Mellor, handles most calls from pros and allows Mark to chat a few minutes
with college coaches.
Only one more college visit, to Duke, is planned.
" I'D LIKE TO get this over," Mark said. " The more things happen, the
cloudier things get. But I'll know in a month. College or the minors. "
Although Gubicza receives 90 percent of the bouquets flung the Little
Quakers' way, the other half of the battery isn't exactly performing like his
cells are dry.
McNally has caught Gubicza for four years, including one on JV, and does
most of the twosome's thinking. What's more, he boasts a strong arm,
productive bat and gaudy bloodlines. Bob's father, Ralph, and uncle, Butch,
an assistant at La Salle College, once formed a talented and laugh-inducing
battery for Roxboro in the Pen-Del League.
Exchanges like this were not uncommon:
Ralph, after Butch had nixed two signs: " I asked for a fastball. Throw it. "
Butch: " You want a fastball. Come out here and throw it yourself . "
Ralph: "Blank blank. "
Butch: " You, too. "
" I remember watching 'em play," Bob said. " For a long time, I thought
fighting between players was a major part of baseball.
" I used to play shortstop, but my father shifted me to catcher in ninth
grade. He always tells me to play aggressive ball, to run the game. I pattern
myself after him. "
Like almost everyone else, McNally realized last year Gubicza owned gobs of
potential. How much, however, he just wasn't sure.
" HE ALWAYS THREW hard, always won lots of games and always was consistent
in terms of throwing strikes," said McNally, who plans to attend either La
Salle or South Carolina. " The slider made the difference. He didn't throw
that pitch as a junior.
" Catching Mark is a challenge. He throws so hard, you must stay on your
toes. It's like a continual test. When I can help guide him to a good
performance, it makes me feel great. When someone gets a hit, I feel it's my
fault because Mark hardly ever shakes me off. "
McNally does, however, shake Gubicza up on occasion.
" He has a temper," Mark said. " When he thinks I'm messing up, he'll throw
the ball back hard or give me the evil eye or raise his voice. I like that,
though. It keeps my head in the game. "
GUBICZA FINDS ROYAL SUCCESS AS DRAFT PICK
Jun 09, 1981
BY TED SILARY
Tony Gubicza was too nervous to take a day off and sit in the house, just
waiting for the phone to deliver good news. Anyway, folks in the Andorra
section of Philadelphia were clamoring for their mail and Tony had to
Meanwhile, his son, Mark, was too nervous to sit around, too, only he had no
classes to attend (school's over) or job to report to. Thus, Mark Gubicza
called a few of his friends and they met at a favorite haunt.
" A couple of my buddies were kidding me," Mark said. " They could tell my
mind wasn't quite with them. They kept saying, 'Don't get so excited. You
won't get picked 'til the 20th round. ' "
Wrong. Mark Gubicza , the 6-5 power pitcher from Penn Charter School,
yesterday was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the second round of major
league baseball's 17th annual June draft. The Royals were choosing eighth in
the round, making Gubicza the 34th pick overall.
" THERE WERE some strong rumors that Mark would be picked in the first
round, so we were kind of hurt that he went in the second," said the elder
Gubicza, who assists Rick Mellor at Penn Charter. " Then again, how mad can
you be when you're viewed as the 34th-best prospect in the country, especially
when you're only a senior in high school?
" Our one big worry was that Mark might get picked by a bad organization,
some team that cuts corners, some team that doesn't have any real direction.
But outside of the Phillies or Dodgers, I doubt that Mark could have been
picked by a better organization. "
Gubicza appeared in 11 games this past season for the Inter-Ac champs,
making nine starts. His stats: 8-1 record, 58 2/3 innings, 27 hits, 4 earned
runs, 25 walks, 83 strikeouts, 0.48 ERA.
" Finally," Mark sighed. " I'm glad this is over. It was fun in a way, but
it gets to you after a while. If we'd been home this past weekend, the
pressure might have been unbearable. But my dad and I went to Duke for a
visit. It helped to get away.
" Today was unbelievable. I got up early and decided to watch TV. The phone
rang once, but nobody answered in time. That drove me crazy. I didn't want to
stay home, so I called some of my friends and we got together to talk for a
while. I finally got home about 4 o'clock. When I walked in, my father told me
what had happened.
" THERE WAS SOME disappointment because the first round carries so much
glamor. Then you realize what a great privilege it is to even go in the second
" I'm pleased to be going with Kansas City. Kansas City in the second round
is a lot better than some teams in the first round might have been. "
Gubicza was buried by offers from big-time college programs all spring and
is leaning toward Duke, assuming the family cannot agree to terms with the
Royals. Tony Gubicza, however, expects no problems.
" The only thing that would keep us from signing, and let's be honest, is a
lack of money," he said. " Mark can go to a number of places for free. When
you're talking about four years in college these days, you're talking about
lots of money. Thus, I assume that the Royals' offer will be made with that in
The selection of Gubicza marked the third time in four years a Philadelphia
schoolboy was drafted in the first two rounds.
In 1978, Chestnut Hill Academy's Tito Nanni was a first-round selection (No.
6 overall) of the Seattle Mariners. Last year, Archbishop Ryan's Dan Cataline
was a second-round selection (No. 37 overall) of the Chicago Cubs.