York has several connections to LeBron-mania in Cleveland
Click here to check out an article to be published in Wednesday morning’s York Dispatch newspaper. It’s about York’s connections to the Lebron James news in Cleveland. There’s a pair of former prominent Revs’ front office staffers now working for the Cleveland Cavaliers, plus the Cavs were named by the father of former York Revolution pitcher Jerry Tomko. I was able to chat with Jerry and his wife of 45 years, Donna, on Monday. Below is the very interesting conversation, in Q&A format, I had with Donna. It’s worth checking out. At 72-years-old, Donna is still working full-time. She’s quite the chatterbox, too. I can see now why Brett Tomko was so comfortable chatting with the media during his time in York, and why he continues to pitch at age 41.
Q: How old is Brett’s dad, Jerry, now?
Q: Is he retired?
Q: What line of work was he in?
A: “I can’t even tell you when that was. He was in sales and did some coaching.”
Q: Did he play baseball in high school or college?
A: “Jerry was a very good baseball play. He was in the Air Force and did everything possible in the Air Force. When we were first married in Cleveland, Jerry played a lot of softball.” “We actually came to York, Pa for a softball tournament.”
Q: No way. Really?
A: “Yeah it was a big tournament.”
Q: Like a national tournament or something?
A: “Yeah. Probably would’ve been 1970s. We all had to pay our own way. Jerry was a pitcher in softball and Jerry could really hit. He’s a very good bowler. Being in the midwest there’s a lot of bowling in the winter time. Scott (Brett’s older brother) excels in everything he does. He’s a really good golfer. So was Jerry in his day.”
Q: What do you remember of York when you were here?
A: “We stayed at a travelodge. I’ll never forget that. Not to sound yucky but I couldn’t believe the number of black people. I’m a farm girl. I was raised in Cleveland. I remember seeing the York Barbell and all that.”
Q: Sounds like you’re a big baseball fan?
A: “Let me tell you a story. I flew to Florida to watch Brett when he was playing. During the game no matter where the pitch went I kept saying ‘Nice one, Brett.’ Every time. If it was a ball I said ‘Keep it right there that’s a strike.’ By the fourth or fifth inning a guy came up to me and was like ‘Do you have money on this game?’ I’m just very proud of Brett. He didn’t succumb to steroids in that era. He pitched against guys that were on it and played with guys that were on it. He did it on sheer physical attributes. When his arm went numb that’s so sad. When he came back, I really admire him. Brett really has true grit. He has two little boys so it may be time soon (to retire). He loves those little boys.”
Q: Where did you and Jerry meet?
A: “A Barons hockey game in Cleveland. My family knew the owners of the Barons at the time. I was ahead of one of the women’s organizations for young girls. One of the girls there brought this boy to the game and introduced me to Jerry. It was fun. For me, I’m not an athlete but when you have a household of two sons and a guy you either fight him or join him. I’m pretty good at most sports.”
Q: And it’s just Scott and Brett? Any other kids?
A: “Just Scott and Brett.”
Q: Sounds like you were tough on them?
A: “I was. But if you talk to them they would say that Scott and Brett adore their mother. I didn’t take any nonsense. I said ‘I don’t have time for you being bad boys.’”
Q: So is Jerry basically known around town for being the guy who named the Cavaliers?
A: “It makes me so damn mad. It never fails any team on a broadcast – I never miss a pitch of Brett. Ever. I have never missed one pitch. With that being said I’ll be watching a game and the broadcast they’ll mention Brett’s dad, Jerry, he named the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s just not fair.”
Q: When did you guys move out to San Diego?
A: “We were here for about 18 to 20 years and then I got transferred to Florida for five years. And then came back to California and San Diego.” “I’m 72. I’m still at it.”
Q: I was gonna ask you. So you’re still working? Where at?
A: “Secure Payment Systems. We handle financial transactions. Like if you owned a gym, they have memberships. So we’ll handle the accounts. We do money movement.”
Q: How long have you and Jerry been married?
A: “We just celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary last Saturday.” “Let me tell you a story. FOX did a thing on the family on Before the Bigs when he was with the Dodgers. They came to the house. One of the things I did when kids were in little league I was solicited to run for president of the league and I did. There was a game I had to suspend Jerry. Jerry was coaching Scott’s team. I suspended him (Jerry). During the interview they asked Jerry ‘I understand Donna was president of the little league?’ and he said ‘Yeah, she suspended me.’
Q; Did you remember what you suspended Jerry for?
A: “No.” “After that when I was interviewed. Scott was like ‘Mom, you cried.’ I love my two sons. I always say ‘Remember who you were and what you stand for. You have a name across your back and don’t disown it.’ I learned that from my father. I kind of tried to give that to the kids.”