Skip Trainer, one of the founders of the Pine Forge baseball league.
Skip and Louise Trainer hit a home run in life and love. After 63 years of marriage, the Trainers are still very much in love—with each other, and with baseball.
The Trainers have both been involved with baseball for many years. Skip, who is now 81 years old, came from Amityville at the request of Louise’s uncle. He was recruited to play baseball for small, individual teams in the Pine Forge area. Louise’s father was a ball player for the St. Louis Cardinals, and when baseball came to the Pine Forge area, the family would go out for some evening entertainment. That was when Louise and Skip met.
“Skip was the catcher out on the field,” said Louise. “I used to watch the games, and I thought he was pretty special. He used to look over at me and wink.”
Buck Rhoads, known as Mr. Baseball, and the nephew of Skip’s grandfather, once sponsored a bus trip to Willow Grove Park for the team and guests, which also served as Skip and Louise’s first date. They were only around 16 years old at the time, but they had a passion for the same things—baseball, and each other.
Skip and Louise married and had two boys and one girl. On the way home from the hospital with their first-born child, Skip took Louise and the new baby home and left to play baseball. Louise stayed at home with the baby while Skip was playing ball, and she didn’t even mind. Baseball was part of their lives, and she wasn’t going to stop him from doing something he loved.
Years later, in 1970, Skip and his brother-in-law Merle Harner established the Pine Forge team that played in the Tri County League. Trainer and Harner had children that wanted to play baseball, but the Boyertown Baseball League was overcrowded and they wanted a fair chance for talented Pine Forge kids to play. The Pine Forge team was started in order for children to have more opportunities to play baseball and softball. Both of the Trainer boys started playing in Pine Forge, but then later played for the Boyertown Legion team when they were of age.
When Skip and Merle started the Pine Forge team, it consisted of one team and approximately 12 to 15 players. They played at a small field at the Pine Forge Elementary School, which was the same field Skip played on 30 years before. Over the years, the team has grown into the Pine Forge Athletic Association (PFAA) as the program grew in player participation and additional fields were developed. In just the late 60s and 70s two teams were formed, splitting the older children from the younger.
Today, the Pine Forge Athletic Association utilizes as many as 15 fields surrounding the Pine Forge community. Many people have been responsible for the growth of the Pine Forge Athletic Association, including many volunteers who have dedicated their time, talents, and financial resources. Pine Forge now has over 30 teams across its entire organization. The Pine Forge League won the 2012 Pennsylvania State Championship this year, sending them to play in Syracuse for the title.
Skip is now a resident at Chestnut Knoll, where he has lived since May 2011. He and Louise still try to attend Pine Forge games, and while they might not get to many of them, they still get to the opening ceremonies. At every opening ceremony, Rich Zuber, Merle’s son-in-law that took over the league, recognizes them for their achievements and development of the Pine Forge League.
“Pine Forge has one of the most beautiful opening ceremonies I’ve seen,” said Jodie Daniels, assistant executive director at Chestnut Knoll. “My son plays on the league now, and I’ve never seen anything more lovely than their opening ceremony.”
The Trainers have continued their lives, with Skip at Chestnut Knoll and Louise still at home. Louise visits and eats lunch with him every day and they enjoy playing cards with friends and entertaining at Chestnut Knoll, just as they did in their home. Every anniversary they try to watch a baseball game, no matter where it is—if they see it in-person or on their TV screen. Baseball has been important to both of them, and they like to be reminded of the life they have shared together and the passion they still have for the game, and for each other.