Niskayuna High baseball player Garrett Whitley rates high on the list of many major league scouts. According to baseball experts, the 6’2, 200-pound centerfielder has the speed and power, and just might be picked in the first round. If so, it will be the first time this has been accomplished by a Capital Region player. ESPN rates Whitley the number 21 draft prospect, and Baseball America places him at number 29. Whitley has committed to play at Wake Forest but is prepared to turn pro instead. Whitley hit .474 for the Silver Warriors last year (his junior year), with 2 homeruns and 25 RBI’s.
Through January 10, Union College hockey players Mike Vecchione and Daniel Ciampini are tops in the nation . Vecchione is the country’s top point scorer, and Ciampini leads the nation in scoring with 15 goals.
Zac O’Dell has been a prolific scorer for the undefeated Schalmont basketball team all season. O’Dell has poured-in 20 or more points in each of the first eight games of the season. His record-tying streak came to an end Friday night, when the Sabres defeated Voorheesville 59-53. O’Dell was “held” to 12 points, but managed to show his versatility and just how valuable he is to the team by pulling down 16 rebounds.
One of the most impressive feats by a Schenectady County athlete was accomplished by Don Blaha, President of the Schenectady Baseball Club. Blaha was a basketball, baseball, track star at Mont Pleasant in the late 1950s, and he later played basketball and baseball at NYU. A pitcher on the Violets’ baseball team, Blaha pitched both halves of a double-header against Hofstra in 1963 and fanned 20 batters.
When I was teaching at Yates Arts in Education Elementary Magnet School in Schenectady, there was a fifth-grade student named Damonte White, who seemed to have no interset in basketball or any sport for that matter. But he does now! Damonte poured in 26 points and pulled down 22 rebounds for Mekeel Christian in a recent 68-56 win over Gloversville.
Chuck Essegian played for the Schenectady Blue Jays in the 1950s. In fact, I saw him hit two homeruns in one game at McNearney Stadium. Essegian went on to hit two pinch-hit homeruns in the 1959 World Series for the Dodgers. He is the only man ever to have played in a Rose Bowl game and blast a homerun in a World Series game.
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December 17, 2014 – Scott Stopera has been the starting point guard for the Scotia-Glenville basketball team the last two years. Stopera played the very important role of playmaker on last season’s finely-tuned Tartan machine that went undefeated and won the state title. A great floor general, who sees the floor well, Stopera racked up a great number of assists dishing it off to offense-minded teammates. This season, Stopera is still dishing it off and producing high numbers in that department, but he also is aware of the team’s need for him to score more if they are to be successful. The versatile team leader has stepped up in the last two games, scoring 15 and 19 points in wins over Amsterdam and Johnstown, as the Tartans remain undefeated.
December 6, 2014 - Joe Almond and CBA transfer Diamond Corker picked right up where Alex Sausville and Dom LeMorta of last year’s team left off, helping to lead Scotia-Glenville to A 72-50 win over Ogdensburg Free Academy for the Tartans’ 40th straight regular season win. Almond sank two three-pointers and tallied 10 points. He also was aggressive defensively from his top middle position in Scotia’s three-two zone. Corker, a senior, rang up 10 points and pulled down 10 rebouds to lead the Tartans in that category.
Schenectady’s Marty Servo beat Mickey Cochrane at Madison Square Garden for the world welterweight crown in 1946. Servo was knocked out by Rocky Graziano in the second round later that year.
Former Niskayuna football and track star, Andre Davis, was the 47th overall pick in the NFL draft in 2003. The Cleveland Browns selected the 6-foot, 195-pound flanker in the second round. Davis played college football for Virginia Tech and was a first-team All-American. He appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated.
Schenectady’s Joe Donato was named Schenectady County Bowler of the Year seven consecutive years. The string began in 1955. Appearing on ABC’s “Make That Spare”, Mr. Bowling converted 5 spares in a row and earned $4,200.
I remember fishing for carp in the Mohawk River as a young person. We used cornmeal, worms, or whatever bait would attract them to our line. We often set up on the banks somewhere between Freeman’s Bridge and the Rexford Bridge. We caught some beauties that fought for long periods of time, but nothing like the world record 75 pound, 11 ounce lunker that was landed by an angler at Lac de St. Cassier, France.
Mike Meola’s new book, titled New York Capital Region Sports Memories-1900-2013, Volume 1, is available locally at the Open Door Bookstore on Jay Street in Schenectady. The book’s content includes more than 400 Capital Region athletes, coaches and teams of yesteryear, plus trivia.
It was the 1950s, and Schenectady’s Fred Pedinotti, a meticulous carpenter, whose workmanship was second to none, and Armando Berti, the father of former Bishop Gibbons and Houston Astros farm team catcher, Don Berti, were rustling through the Fall brush along the Mohawk River on Aqueduct Road, looking to slay a rabbit. They toted either a 14 or 16-gage shotgun.