Martin George Skutnik was born March 8 1957 and Passed Away September 10, 2013 (Link to Obituary). He played beep baseball with the Cleveland Scrappers from 1984-2006. Marty Skutnik was selected as the first player to be added into the Greater Cleveland Beepball League Hall of Scrap. He was one of our founding members as well as a leader for decades of our organization and team. Marty was inducted into the NBBA Hall of Fame in 2015 and won a Jim Quinn Award in 1997 which is the highest honor in the NBBA. For many players over the years, he was a role model that led by example.
Marty was an all-around gifted athlete especially in baseball and basketball. He began to have vision challenges in the 10th grade when he experienced a partial sudden vision loss while on the Junior varsity basketball team. He lost the rest of his sight on the morning of his high school graduation.
Marty and Kevin Barrett met in 1976 at Cleveland State when Kevin was asked by the dean of the student services area to help Marty purchase his textbooks at the bookstore. They became the best of friends.
When Marty and Kevin learned about USABA in 1978 they and some friends took part in some of the early USABA Nationals from 1978 to 1984 competing in track and field, and Goal Ball. From 1980 to 1984 Marty excelled in field events winning several medals in the shot put and discus in the Class A totally blind bracket.
Marty and Kevin, along with another friend Michael Berwald (who enrolled at Cleveland State in 1978), were big baseball fans. Michael told them about the Cleveland area Telephone Pioneer Council’s beep baseball program. Mike had been involved since he was a child and thought they could give it a try and perhaps develop a more competitive level. They joined Mike and the Pioneer team in 1981 and loved the potential of being able to play ball again, as was the case for Marty. When they attended the USABA Nationals in Austin, TX in 1982 Ray Marshall, Maria Serratt and others told them about the NBBA. They were thrilled!
Marty, Kevin, and Mike formed the Scrappers in late 1983 and fielded our first team in 1984. The Scrappers joined the NBBA in 1987 after having attained some experience attending some weekend tournaments during 1985 and 1986 in Ithaca and playing host to the Philadelphia Warriors in 1984 and 1985. By 1987 fellow Hall of Famers Wilbert Turner and Leonard Williams were all part of the team and the successes of winning the 1987 Eastern Regional at Binghamton, NY gave the Scrappers under Marty’s leadership as our player/manager to confidence to join the NBBA. The first NBBA World Series was just the learning experience we needed though we went 0 and 4 Marty and the rest of us felt we gained valuable experience playing against the best.
Marty’s brother Richard ‘Dr. Skutty’ Skutnik was our top and many times our only sighted volunteer. He was our driver, catcher, and equipment repair man from 1986 to 2006. Marty’s wife Sherry and their children David and Audrey always were there to support the Scrappers. In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer on July 31, 1989, Marty said ‘It’s just like any amateur team. We go out to do our best and have a heck of a lot of fun trying’. This sums up Marty’s competitive spirit. He always gave 100% and led by example. His support of the NBBA and the Scrappers continued until his untimely death and his legend will always be remembered and continue to inspire others.
NBBA Hall of Fame Inductee 2015
- Cleveland Scrappers 1984-2013
- Chicago Insight 1993 (at World Series)
World Series All Star Awards
- 1992 at St. Louis Park, MN Offense BA .694Defense Put Outs 24
- 2001 at Cleveland, OH Offense BA .694
All Star Awards Other Tournaments
- 1987, 1988 & 1990 Eastern Regional Binghamton, NY
- 1999 Offense Ohio Invitational Columbus, OH
- 2000 Offense BA .619 MVP Viper Classic Columbus, OH
- 2001 Offense BA .727 Viper Classic Columbus, OH
- Defense 19 Put Outs Viper Classic
- 2002 Offense Indy Thunder Tournament Indianapolis, IN
- 2003 Offense BA .560 MVP Viper Classic Columbus, OH
- 2003 Offense MVP Indy Thunder Tournament
- 2004 Defense 7 Put Outs Ohio Classic Cleveland, OH
- 2005 Offense BA .600 Bolingbrook, IL
- 2005 Offense BA .609 Viper Classic Columbus, OH
Available World Series Statistics
|1987 @ Ithaca, NY||4||1st. WS Cleveland Scrappers|
|1989 @ Topeka||5||Cleveland Scrappers|
|1994 @ Ft. Lauderdale||7||Cleveland Scrappers|
|1997 @ Topeka||Cleveland Scrappers|
|2003||6||29||11||2||13||.379||Cleveland Scrappers||2004||7||30||12||4||13||.400||Cleveland Scrappers|
Marty’s Jim Quinn Induction Nomination Letter 1997
February 18, 1996
To Joe Wood the 1996 Jim Quinn Award Winner and Chairman of the Jim Quinn Award Committee.
I am writing to you in regards to the Jim Quinn Award nomination for outstanding service to Beep Baseball. As my team, the Cleveland Scrappers enter our 14th. Season overall and our 11th as an NBBA member, I would like to submit the following nomination.
I respectfully nominate the man most responsible for this team being here today. I wish to nominate Marty Skutnik our founder, leader, and star ball player. Thanks to his tireless hard work and endless dedication, against great odds the Cleveland Scrappers have survived very difficult and meager beginnings, to become an established program in our community. Without Marty’s efforts, the Scrappers would not be in existence today. His leadership has been and is an inspiration to all of us both on and off the field of athletic competition. As player/manager Marty Skutnik has demonstrated the courage and adept organizational skills to make quick and solid decisions on the spot during a tight game, while at the same time playing outstanding on both defense and offense. He definitely has a lot of the same savvy of Cleveland Indians great Lou Boudreau, the Tribe’s famous player/manager and Hall of Famer from the 1940’s. Marty is the Scrappers Lou Boudreau. He is also a great athlete and role model for others.
Between 1978 and 1984 he was a USABA competitor in Goalball and Track and Field. He won several Gold and Silver Medals at the USABA Summer National Championships in 1982 at Austin, TX, 1983 at Missoula., MT and 1984 at St. Louis, MO. As a beepball player, few players have hit the ball with such authority and consistency. For example, at the 1990 World Series of Beep Baseball at Chicago, Marty was on pace to win the batting title/hitting MVP for the Series had he been given the opportunity to get enough at bats to qualify. He went 17 for 18 but, due to the weather, time limits plus our game with Albuquerque being cancelled, he fell short of the minimum 25 at bats needed to qualify. On defense he’s no slouch either. Marty just missed making the All-Defensive team in 1994 at Fort Lauderdale.
Under Marty’s leadership the Scrappers have been a very competitive team over the years. The Scrappers own 3 Eastern Regional Championships; 1987, 88 and 1990 (Binghamton, NY), third place at Chicago Regional 1988, Ohio Champs 1993-94 and the Consolation Championship at the 1994 Beep Baseball World Series. The Scrappers have also attended the World Series in 1987, 89, 90, 92 and 1994 with Marty at the helm. Each time the team was very competitive. For example, in 1989 at Topeka Marty’s defensive adjustments and leadership on the field helped the Scrappers to a near upset of the great East Bay Blaze team losing by one run 16 to 15. Our 5 to 4 extra inning win over the Minnesota Rangers in 1989 is the game that we still look at today, as the game in which the Cleveland Scrappers arrived as a solid NBBA team. Thanks to Marty’s leadership and confidence building the Scrappers had had some very good games against some of the top teams in the NBBA.
Sportsmanship first has been and will remain the Scrappers motto. We want to win but, we strive to be a gracious victor and a good loser. Marty always stressed this, and we try to keep sportsmanship as a key tradition of our program. Playing Beep Baseball is just a game, and we play ball to have fun and to educate others.
Off the field Marty was an outstanding leader, fundraiser, organizer, and spokesperson for the Scrappers and the NBBA. As our president he presided over meetings, planned games both at home and out of town. He also took care of arrangements for all of our trips to World Series and other tournaments. He designed our emblem or logo and came up with the team’s name in 1984. The name Scrappers came about due to the fact that the team has had to scrape, claw and scrap for everything we have accomplished. Our community has been very slow to respond to us and truly embrace the team, thus we have had to work hard to survive with little help. Marty’s work as a fundraiser really saved this team from collapse many times. He founded our annual Bowl A Thon, set up benefit games, designed and printed literature at his own expense and purchased uniforms for the team at least five times in 1987, 88, 89, 90 and 94.
Marty was also very generous with his vans, providing rides from practice and transportation to the many tournaments, World Series, and benefit games we have participated in. From Chicago, Binghamton, Ithaca, to Topeka to name a few, we got there thanks to Marty and his brother Richard our main and most dedicated volunteer for at least 8 years. Volunteers are vital for a beep baseball team to work. Thanks to Marty and his brother Richard (Dr. Skutty) and his friend Wally Brozska the chance to play ball has been a reality for our players. Wally and Richard made it possible to adopt the two-spotter defense in 1994 which helped the Scrappers improve a lot. As well as, providing transportation and volunteers Marty was also our top fundraiser. No matter what kind of fundraising activity from raffles to selling cookbooks, Marty always brought in the most funds. At the end of each season, he made sure to present the volunteers with awards of appreciation.
Marty has also been one of our top spokespersons over the years. Year after year, Marty and a few other members have solicited the help of such groups as, Lions Clubs, Telephone Pioneers, The Cleveland Indians, other companies, and agencies that serve the blind. As I mentioned earlier, the Greater Cleveland Community has been slow to respond to the Scrappers. No single group or company, including the traditional helpers of the blind and visually impaired have been willing to make a long-term firm commitment to help our program. We have only been able to attain small, short-term donations from perhaps a single Lions Club one year, only to be dropped the next. The same has been the case with our Telephone Pioneer Councils. Volunteers have been difficult to find as well. This has been frustrating for our entire team. Thanks mainly to Marty the Scrappers have persevered. We refuse to give up. Thanks to Marty Skutnik we will continue to work. Perseverance, especially Marty’s may be finally paying off. Beginning in 1995 and into 1996-97 the Scrappers have been getting in kind help from the Cleveland Society for the Blind and some help from a couple of Lions Clubs including aid in being invited to the Lions District Convention. In 1997 the corporate community and United Way are starting to help. As the 1997 season approaches things are beginning to look up.
This is only possible due to our hanging in there led by Marty’s efforts. We’ve had to endure a long-term endurance test to prove our worth in this community.
The Scrappers have become more than just a Beep Baseball team. We have evolved into a community service program at home. The Scrappers now serve a key educational and awareness function in the community. By stressing work with school and other youth programs we are able to give back something positive to the entire Greater Cleveland population. These programs and activities evolved out of our benefit games with sighted ball teams. The people with the sighted groups found that the experience of playing Beep Baseball was very educational and rewarding. We realized how much awareness work could be done if we started doing awareness activities. This would help in mainstreaming blind and visually impaired people into the community. Most of the people and mainly the kids have come away from a beep ball program realizing how much they depend on their sight but, also finding out how people can adapt. Also, many have learned to appreciate and respect the capabilities of the blind and sight challenged community.
Initiated in 1994 by Marty, the Scrappers now do several types of awareness days or demonstrations with sighted and blind children throughout the Greater Cleveland area. Our ultimate goal is to educate people both young and old, to be able look past one’s impairment and see the person and her/his abilities. Our hope is by doing these activities that we will do our part to speed up the process of mainstreaming the disabled into all facets of society, from work to play. Marty and the Scrappers also provided guidance and assistance in the formation of Columbus Vipers and Cincinnati Fyre Beep Baseball teams. The Vipers have now made it to two World Series. Cincinnati is having problems but, there is always hope. Outside of Chicago, the Vipers, and the Scrappers there are not many solid NBBA teams in operation in the Midwest at this time. More than anything else, the hard work of Marty Skutnik has kept this dream alive in Cleveland, Ohio.
We hope the Jim Quinn Award Committee will agree that Marty Skutnik is very deserving of this top award in the NBBA.
Kevin T. Barrett, Treasurer
Facts About Marty and Other Information
- He served on the NBBA Board of Directors from 1998 to 2001 and from 2003 to 2006. He served on the Hall of Fame Committee. Wrote the Official NBBA Defensive Manual.
- Marty was a part of the NBBA World Series Host Committee in both 2001 and 2006.
- Marty was the first blind student to graduate from Cleveland State University with a degree in Elementary Education in 1981.
- Marty’s family was very involved in the Cleveland Scrappers. When his son David was starting Tee Ball and was getting his equipment ready to go to his first practice, he wanted to know where his blindfold is. Growing up around our sport, David thought everyone playing baseball were supposed to wear blindfolds.
- Baseball with a Beep: Cleveland Scrappers take a Swing at Visually Impaired version of Baseball (Crain’s Cleveland Business)