Sandlot Football

In 1959, sandlot football was very popular among the junior high schools in Schenectady, New York and the rest of the Capital Region, as well as other parts of the country.  Players occasionally wore helmets, but rarely with facemasks.  Shoulder pads?  What!  Rarely did you see a player wearing pads.  At least not in Schenectady.  Three junior high schools were involved in the Electric City competition.  The powerhouse was McKinley.  They were led by future Mont Pleasant High School gridders Joe Massaroni, Frank Pidgeon, Joe Salmon, Al Gallo, and Rich Santelli.  Oneida Junior High was second best.  They had Lew DeFilippo, Tony Insogna, Rit DiSarro, Nick Pomato, Mike Caschera, Tony Durante, Jerry Pedinotti, and yours truly (sounds like Rome going against Naples, Italy).  Central Park was basically a two-man team.  Quarterback Pat Riley (the former NBA player and coach, and now president and general manager of the Miami Heat), and Doug McManus Jr., just an eighth-grader, made up their two-pronged attack.  Their linemen melted on offensive plays, and they ducked for cover when they were defending.  They usually were annihilated.  Riley later starred for Linton, and McManus played basketball and baseball for the same high school. He was an especially good shortstop.  Regardless of who won those unofficiated games, players went home with ripped shirts, torn pants, and often splattered with mud.  Mothers dreaded those saturday morning games.  The competition took place in Central Park or behind the Schenectady Little League field on Michigan Avenue.

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