This is the fourth in a series of five articles profiling the Mars Athletic Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018.
CHESWICK — There may not have been anything imposing about Chuck Young’s appearance. At 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, he looked not unlike a lot of high school baseball players.
Then he took the mound.
A left-hander, Young dominated opposing batting orders, throwing three no-hitters and striking out 131 batters in his scholastic career, which culminated in the spring of 1995 when he helped Mars to a lengthy playoff run.
“From an early age, I knew I had something special,” Young said. “By my senior year, I was throwing in the low-90s. Teams didn’t want to face us when they knew I’d be pitching.”
Young also helped Mars football go from a struggling program to a playoff contender his last two years of high school. He will be inducted into the Mars Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday.
Young was a big reason why the Planets had high hopes on the baseball diamond in 1995. The team qualified for the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs and Young led a first-round victory over Riverview by striking out 15 and allowing just three hits.
But in a WPIAL semifinal against Shenango, it was at the plate where Young had the chance to come up big.
“It was the last inning and we were trailing by one run,” said Young. “There was a runner at second base with two outs and I struck out to end the game. The first person to come up to me was our head coach, Brian Hobaugh, and he hugged me. He did a lot for me during my career and I can’t thank him enough. He was a great coach and a quality man.”
The Planets were not done, however. They made the state playoffs as the WPIAL’s third-place team and faced District 5 champion Northern Bedford in the first round. Again, Young was stellar on the mound, striking out six in a two-hit shutout.
The win sent the Planets to a rematch with Shenango. This time, the Planets prevailed, 6-4. Their season ended five days later in Altoona with a loss to eventual state champion Mount Union.
“My catcher that season was Shawn Anglum and defensively, he was incredible,” said Young. “Our second baseman, Matt Powell, batted almost .600. Our 1995 season was unbelievable.”
Young played running back and linebacker for Mars’ football team. His first season on the varsity squad was as a sophomore in 1992, which was current coach Scott Heinauer’s first season of leading the program.
Entering that season, the Planets had endured nine straight losing campaigns. They began the season with a 15-12 win over Neshannock, Mars’ first win in 11 games.
“My dad came to the game and on the way home, he told me that he was proud of us for pulling it out, but that it was going to be our only win that year,” Young said. “He was right. We finished 1-9 that season.
“I remember being so dejected by the end of the season. I didn’t want to go through two more years with that kind of struggle.”
Fortunately for Young and the Planets, better days were right around the corner. Mars won seven games each of the next two seasons, qualifying for the district playoffs for the first time in 16 years in 1993. As a senior in 1994, Young averaged 17 tackles per game.
“When Coach Heinauer came in, Mars football was the laughingstock of Butler County,” Young said. “He was young, energetic and a father figure and I took a lot of pride in being part of the team that turned things around.”
But Young’s future was in baseball.
“A scout for the Seattle Mariners had seen me pitch for a few years and he said they were prepared to draft me out of high school,” Young said. “But my dad didn’t think I was ready. Nobody on his side of the family had ever earned a college degree and he wanted me to go to college. I ended up going to Pitt on a full scholarship.”
Young, though, would never pitch an inning for the Panthers. He admits it was due to a lack of focus.
“I was able to get an apartment off campus, living with two other guys,” he said. “As a freshman, I wasn’t ready for that kind of freedom and started not going to class.
“I came from a small town and a school where there were 20 to 30 students in each class. Now I’m in college where there were 400 kids in one room. It all led me down a path to not doing what I needed to do to keep my scholarship.”
Young was first placed on academic probation, then lost his scholarship altogether. He left the university in 1997.
“I know my dad would have loved to see me pitch in the major leagues, but what he wanted most was to see me get that degree,” Young said. “I let him down. I let myself down.”
Young’s father, Melvin, died unexpectedly in Dec. 1997.
“I had the best dad in the world,” said Young. “He was a single parent and raised me and my sisters by himself. He was always there for me. God rest his soul.”
Young returned to school a few years later and earned a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from La Roche College in 2003.
“The day I graduated, it was very emotional for me,” he said. “I fulfilled something that I promised my dad I would do. I believe he was with me that day.”
Young has five children — sons Tyler and Dean and daughters Morgan, Kacey and Mackenzie.
“I’m proud of my life because of my kids,” he said. “They’re all healthy and I’m a blessed man.”