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Letofsky: ’Nuch tradition continues with father’s, with class

BY JEFF LETOFSKY | The Pueblo Chieftain | JUN 16, 2019

To borrow a phrase from the Masters Tournament in the world of golf, “It’s a tradition like no other.”

Locally, that would be the Tony Andenucio Memorial Baseball Tournament. One of Pueblo’s best sports traditions that wraps up its 40th year today.

Played at what is now the 85-year-old Runyon Sports Complex, the ’Nuch Tournament, as it is referred to, plays onto the heart strings of current and former baseball players and their families.

And it’s all done with class.

Credit the Andenucio family for that. With the siblings of Tony running the show, the tournament has taken on the personality of the Andenucios. Caring, understanding, organized and compassionate people who understand how sports mixes with emotions.

Tony’s son Joe is the ringleader as the tournament director and daughter Joanna supplies food for tournament officials and takes care of all the critical details. We all missed Tony’s wife Carrie, a big part of the tournament since its inception, who passed away early this year.

Annually held on Father’s Day weekend, the event brings youngsters together with their fathers to either watch or play America’s past time. It provides an opportunity for those of us who played for our dad or coached our sons to reminisce.

I, for one, can’t remember the last year I didn’t spend Father’s Day on or near a ball field either as a player, coach or sports writer.

Growing up, with my dad as my coach, we played either league games or tournament games on Father’s Day. And as a coach of my son, Logen, we played in tournaments throughout Colorado on Father’s Day, even taking part in the DiIOrio Tournament played at the smaller fields at the six-field Runyon Sports Complex, a tournament that continues to this day in conjunction with the ’Nuch.

Besides the Andenucio family, it’s the coaches, players and umpires that make the ’Nuch one of the top tournaments in the country.

Year after year, the Wards from Oklahoma, the Appleyards from Las Vegas and the Corneliuses from Burkburnett along with the staffs and players from Albuquerque, Cherry Creek, Cheyenne, Farmington, 4-Corners, Grand Junction, Parker and Pueblo make it worthwhile to come to the ’Nuch.

That’s just it. One of the best things about the ’Nuch is it’s a haven for reunions.

Former players and coaches return to the complex to watch the four-day, 37-game affair. It’s like a Who’s Who of Pueblo baseball.

Forgive me if I drop some names here.

On Friday, University of San Francisco coach Nino Giarratano was on hand. The former Puebloan is considered one of the top college coaches in the country. He was a standout player at Pueblo South High School, went on to play collegiality and professionally and worked his way up the college coaching ladder to become one of the most recognizable instructors in the country.

Also in attendance was Metropolitan State University assistant coach Roger Plank, a standout player at the University of Northern Colorado who has Pueblo ties.

Red Morrow, a former ’Nuch umpire who donned the blue professionally for a number of years, was hob-nobbing with the Runyon brass.

And John Vunovich, a former Pueblo prep star who played at UNC and Valdosta State, made the rounds.

There were many others, too many to name, that come to Pueblo to rub elbows with friends, family and baseball enthusiasts.

They come for the event and the tradition the Andenucio family started four decades ago.

That being top-notch, high school-level baseball in a format that weeds out the weak and crowns the survivors with well-earned hardware.

Congratulations on another ultra-successful event, Andenucios.

Let’s go for 50.

Chieftain interim sports editor Jeff Letofsky can by reached at jletofsky@chieftain.com or on Twitter @JeffLetofsky