Years ago, I was visiting with a friend who was working the front desk at a motel on upper State Street in Schenectady, across the street from OTB. Who walked in but Glens Falls native and 1955 World Series MVP, Johnny Podres. Podres pitched and won game seven for the Brooklyn Dodgers over the New York Yankees. He was named Sportsman of the Year. Podres was living at the motel at that time.
Jim Bradshaw, who served on the Schenectady police force for 26 years, is now a candidate for Rotterdam Town Justice. I remember Bradshaw, a hard-slugging middleweight/light-heavyweight, when he was being trained by the cigar-smoking Pep Cassillo. Cassillo trained many up and coming fighters upstairs at the old Schenectady YMCA. Cassillo encouraged Bradshaw to go pro. A gutsy fighter, Bradshaw lost just seven bouts in well over 50 fights.
The 1959 Linton High School football team, coached by Pete Shulha, was called the “Dirty Dozen”. Why? I’m not exactly sure. But from what I’ve heard, there was a little biting going on beneath those pile-ups. Most of the starters on that team were from Goosehill on the northside of Schenectady. Some of those players were the Falvo twins, Frank (he owns an insurance agency on upper Union Street) & Anthony, Carmen Ronca (he was scholarshipped by the University of Pittsburgh). Carl Alescio, Mike DeVito, Ron DiVincenzo, and Dickie Cavalier.
I forgot to tell you in the previous post that Mack Suprunowicz was selected as the sixth-best small forward in Michigan basketball history by isportsweb. He also led Michigan in scoring each of the four years that he played for the wolverines.
A 1945 graduate of Mont Pleasant High School, Mack Suprunowicz scored over 1,000 career points when he played for Michigan. When the rugged Suprunowicz graduated, he was the Wolverines’ leader for single-game, single-season and career points scored.
Schenectady’s Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney was one of the greatest race car drivers of all-time. In fact, a movie titled Heart like a Wheel was about her life. In her younger days (1950s), Cha Cha used to drag race against anyone who was willing take her on in the Electric City. Many of her races began in front of Proctor’s Theater on State Street and ended at Erie Boulevard.
The great pitcher, Walter Johnson, known as the “Big Train”, came to Schenectady in 1913 and pitched against the Mohawk Colored Giants. Johnson was coming off the best year of his career with an amazing amazing 36-7 record with the Washington Senators. He struck out 11 Colored Giants batters in five innings, giving up only two hits, but lost the game, 1-0. Frank Wickware was the Colored Giants pitcher.
Do you remember these names of Gazette, Union Star and Times Union writers who covered the area sports beat years past? : Marty Ralbovsky (who also penned Destiny’s Darlings), Al DeSantis, Ralph Martin, John Bonafacio, Jack Hugerich, Johnny Jones, Hal Buell, Joe Torre , Bill Arsenault (still writing for the Times Union), and Larry Serrell. Marv Cermak, who I remember vividly when he wrote a column and covered high school sports for the Schenectady Gazette, is still penning a column covering the Electric City for the Times Union. He was always one of my favorites.
Billy Kirvin, a sensational scorer for Mont Pleasant in 1958, was named to the Dell Magazine All-Midwest sectional Team, when he was pounding the hardwoods for Xavier of Ohio in the early 1960s. Ohio State stars John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas were also named to the team.
The Schenectady Armory at 125 Washington Avenue in downtown Schenectady has been refurbished and will be used for a myriad of events in the future. The old armory was a “hot spot” years ago, then went dormant. In the 1940s, the Rochester Royals and other National Basketball League (NBL) teams came to the Electric City to play against each other at the Washington Avenue Armory (across the street from the old Van Curler Hotel and now SCCC). Great players like George Mikan, Bobby Davies, Goose Tatum, Chuck Connors (The Rifleman), Al Cervi, and Arnie Rosen, all played there before crowds that exceeded 4,000.
The great heavyweight fighter Jack Dempsey was training in Saratoga Springs, New York for his bout with Jack Sharkey in 1927, and there was a murder-suicide in Schenectady. It turned out that Dempsey’s brother John, who was estranged from his wife, paid her a visit at 847 Emmett Street on Hamilton Hill, shot her, then turned the gun on himself. Dempsey came to Schenectady, handled the funeral arrangements, then returned to Saratoga and resumed training. Later, he successfully defended his title by knocking out Sharkey.
In the late 1960s, Bishop Gibbons High School on Albany Street had a smoker for its athletes and parents, and the guest speaker was the great quarterback and class act, Francis Tarkenton. Most of us can remember Tarkenton as the scrambling quarterback for Georgia and then the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants. By the time he retired in 1978, Tarkenton had set many professional records. He had the most passes completed, most passes attempted and the most yards gained lifetime. Around the same time, another function was held at the Edison Club on Riverview Road in Rexford, and the great Bob Cousy, a magician with the basketball when he played for the Boston Celtics, was the guest speaker. Cousy was another class act.
The Vitallo Bowling Classic League of Schenectady is loaded with top-notch kegglers. Mike Giaquinto, Skip Vigars Jr., Dave Mennillo Jr., Steve Hallenbeck, Jay Diamond, Vince Silverio, and Nick Stricos are among them. Any one of them is capable of rolling the top score on any given night.
Answer - Liz Kuhlkin