Milligan Game Showcases Top Valley Seniors

Times Staff Writer

Quickly, redraw the boundaries for the Bernie Milligan All-Star Game. Pitches from the East team may roll all the way to the backstop, and that's no way to showcase 40 of the best high school seniors in the Valley area.

The East has no experienced catcher for today's 3:30 p.m. game at Cal State Northridge. The West, on the other hand, has several catchers. So many, in fact, that one, Crespi's Joe Testa will play first base. Another, John Dunn of Chatsworth, will play outfield.

Meanwhile, the Witches of Eastwick may be summoned to snare the pitches of the East team. If not, the less-than-supernatural gifts of Poly's Joey Speakes and Hart's Jim Bonds, both of whom are fine outfielders, will have to suffice. They are scheduled to alternate.

Has Speakes ever caught?

"A little in legion ball," East co-Coach Bud Murray said.

Has Bonds ever caught?

"A little in Pony League ball," Murray said.

The unearthly shudder you hear is from UCLA football Coach Terry Donahue, who signed Bonds to a letter of intent to play quarterback until sometime in the early 1990s.

Should Bonds injure finger or knee while catching in an all-star baseball game, expect a new entry on UCLA's list of "Things to Avoid During the Off-Season."

The East had a real catcher in Frank Charles of Montclair Prep, but he has tendinitis and is unable to throw. Since both Speakes and Bonds were quarterbacks last fall, one thing they can do is throw. Hence, the logic of using them behind the plate.

You've heard of a catcher being the quarterback of a baseball team? In this case it's so true they may bark signals rather than flash them from behind their mitts.

Meanwhile, the West will alternate Jim Henderson of Westlake and Tim Laker of Simi Valley at catcher, both of whom were selected--as catchers--in the major league free-agent draft June 2. And the best in the West won't even play. Canoga Park catcher Mike Urman signed two weeks ago with the Atlanta Braves, who drafted him in the second round.

The East is much stronger at positions that don't require squatting. Poly's Danny Gil is an excellent shortstop. Scott Weiss of Quartz Hill, Tim DeGrasse of Notre Dame and Jeff Cirillo of Providence form a potent pitching staff.

Weiss will start, and each of the three is scheduled to pitch three innings. Burbank pitcher Bryan Chandler pulled a muscle in his throwing shoulder and will not play. Bonds and David Lee, also of Hart, can pitch if needed.

Murray, who joins Montclair Prep's Jeff Pressman as co-coach, hopes the pitching strength can offset the lack of catching.

"The West must be concerned about our pitching," he said.

West co-Coaches Scott Muckey of Crespi and Wayne Sink of Birmingham--the guys with all the catchers--are worried enough about their own pitching. Mike Teich of El Camino Real will start, Monroe's Jeff Frith-Smith will pitch the middle innings, and Chris Spears of Crespi is scheduled to finish.

"I've only seen Teich and Frith-Smith pitch batting practice," Muckey said.

Royal's Joe Summers, Reseda's Mike Vanacore, Canoga Park's Aaron Marks and Laker also pitched during the regular season, although none were considered stoppers.

Bonds and Speakes aren't exactly stoppers, either, but that's what they'll be asked to do. Stop balls from rolling to the backstop.

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