YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – John Andrew Sefcik, Jr., lifelong resident of the city’s west side, passed away Sunday, January 17, 2021 at the age of 94.
John was born December 20, 1926 in Youngstown, the son of the late John and Ann Serenko Sefcik and was a 1945 graduate of Chaney High School.
Throughout his junior high and high school years, John played numerous sports and graced the baseball diamonds as one of the gutsiest and talented catchers and outfielders of his time. His exploits on the diamond drew the attention of baseball scouts and he signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1945, reporting to its York, Pennsylvania affiliate that spring. His professional career, however, was short-lived as he was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve during World War II.
Serving overseas, he made the best of his stay in the Army playing baseball on an all-star team in Leghorn, Italy, as a member of a P.B.S. Special Service squad. In 1946, he was reassigned to the First-Team Mediterranean Theater Regional and Zone Level squad in Gorizia, Italy and was honorably discharged in 1947. Upon completion of his service, he was awarded the World War II Victory Medal and the World War II Army of Occupation Medal.
Upon his return to Youngstown from overseas, John continued his baseball exploits and began a run of 13 consecutive seasons in the local Class AA League, where he played for some of the area’s finest baseball teams ever assembled. Beginning in 1947, he played for the G.M. McKelvey team, followed by the East Side Civics, the C.I.O. Club and a second stint with G.M. McKelvey’s, finishing his playing career in 1960 as a member of the Home Club.
As a member of the McKelvey’s team during that second stint, John and his teammates brought notoriety to the city. During a three-year span, from 1953 to 1955, the team was the National Amateur Baseball Federation National Champions, which was a feat that no other local team has ever been able to duplicate on any level. So impressive was this accomplishment that the Hillerich & Bradsby Company of Louisville, Kentucky, the legendary No. 1 maker of wooden bats, presented bats to each member of the team with their names engraved for each championship season. A duplicate set of the bats are also located in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
John devoted over 65 years to the local Mill Creek Junior Baseball League as both a coach in the various leagues as well as a trustee on the board. John also lovingly supported all of his children and grandchildren in their academic and athletic endeavors. He enjoyed bowling, playing cards and golf and had three holes-in-one during his lifetime, the last on April 27, 2014, at 86 years of age.
Recognized over the years for his numerous athletic achievements, his contributions to the Youngstown USA Old-Timers Baseball Association and for his selfless dedication to the children of Youngstown, John was inducted in 1995 into the Curbstone Coaches of Youngstown Hall of Fame for Baseball.
John married the love of his life, the former Alfa Antoinette Castrucci, on February 18, 1950 and the couple spent over 59 happy years of wedded union until her passing on July 1, 2009. Together, John and Alfa were wonderful parents who did a good job of raising and loving their children. They instilled the values of hard work and love and the Sefcik house was the neighborhood home and playground.
John worked as a tile and terrazzo layer for 40 years, retiring in 1992.
He is survived by seven children: four sons, John A. III (Ginny) Sefcik of Canfield, James E. (Michelle) Sefcik of Solon, Thomas J. (Lynnette) Sefcik of Hoover, Alaska and David P. (Mary Ann) Sefcik of Howland; three daughters, Susan A. (Vince) Casey of Austintown, Patricia M. (Ray) Hernan of Gaithersburg, Maryland and Marianne (Bob) Hallapy of Hubbard; 14 grandchildren, Melissa (David), Jill, Julie (Zach), Ryan, Stephanie, Colleen (Jacob), Stacey, Jenna (Jorge), Laura, Vince, Andrew, Rachel, Kimmy and Justin; eight great-grandchildren, Luke, Andrew, Alfa, Margaret, Rexford, Charlotte, Lucas and Griffin; a sister, Mary Komsa; his brother-in-law and best friend of over 80 years, Joe DeFuria; his sister-in-law and Joe’s wife, Vera DeFuria and a very close friend, Kay Novicky.
Besides his wife, he was preceded in death by sisters, Ann Patrick, Aggie Kozlowsky, Helen Pinter and Veronica Dlwgosh and brothers, Joe Sefcik and Mike Sefcik.
Because of the current pandemic, private services only were held Friday, January 22, 2021 at Kinnick Funeral Home in Youngstown and private graveside services with military honors took place at Calvary Cemetery in Youngstown, where John was laid to rest next to his beloved, Alfa.
John’s family would like to thank his friends and neighbors for watching over him and for reaching out now to express condolences.
In honor of John’s achievements, his dedication to Youngstown’s west side and his unwavering support of his family’s alma mater, his family has designated “The Once a Cowboy, Always a Cowboy” alumni group of Chaney High School as a charity for family and friends to donate to in John’s name. Donations may be sent to Once a Cowboy Always a Cowboy, P.O. Box 3024, Youngstown, OH 44511.
To send flowers to John’s family, please visit our floral store.
A television tribute will air Monday, January 25 at the following approximate times: 7:10 a.m. on FOX, 12:22 p.m. on WKBN, 5:08 p.m. on MyYTV and 7:27 p.m. on WYTV.