CD Baseball Hall of Fame class blends stars of past, present

Many of the inaug­ural inductees in the Capital District Baseball Hall of Fame were just happy to be

Many of the inaug­ural inductees in the Capital District Baseball Hall of Fame were just happy to be considered among the other names floating around the ceremony at the Crowne Plaza

Hotel on Sunday.

Surely, Schenectady High School graduate Casper Wells is among those thrilled to have his name listed with some of the greats of the game.

The Seattle Mariners’ outfielder was unable to be at the ceremony because his doctors don’t want him to fly as he continues to recover from a beanball. His father, also named Casper, said that he and his son didn’t expect such an honor so early in his professional career.

“Actually, I was a little surprised. He’s a little young,” Wells said. “Actually, I thought for a Hall of Famer, you had to go through a career first. Then, if you get inducted, they can go through all your accomplishments. But it’s the Cap­ital Region, we’re in the Northeast where there’s not really a plethora of baseball players. He was an exceptional player, so we’re honored. It’s a great honor, and I know he’s very proud of it.”

Maybe there’s not an astounding number of famous major leaguers from the Capital District, but there are a few.

Among those inducted were a couple of members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame — Johnny Evers and George Davis. Also inducted was 1955 World Series MVP Johnny Podres and John Grabow­ski, who was a catcher with the 1927 World Series champion New York Yankees.

Then there was Jim Barbieri, who was a member of the 1954 Schenectady Little League team that won the Little League World Series, then went on to play in the major league World Series. And his teammate on that Little League team, Billy Connors, who played as a pro and was the pitching coach for the Yankees before taking a spot in the front office.

That entire Little League team was honored, with Joe Loudis, Chuck Caputo and Frank Scirocco coming to the microphone to thank the selection committee.

Loudis also played on the 1953 team with Barbieri and Connors.

“I had the privelege of playing in 25 Little League games. We won 24, lost one, 1-0,” Loudis said. “Seven years ago, we were honored in Will­iamsport for our 50th anniversary, and Billy Connors and I were introduced to throw out the [first pitch] for the U.S. championship game between Texas and California before 40,000 people. It was just unbelieveable.”

Named for one of the inaugural inductees, the John Cerutti Sportsmanship Award was presented to David Palmer, who with Saratoga Catholic Central graduate Tim Stauffer was a keynote speaker.

Mike Serbalik received the Johnny Evers Contributor Award, and George Rogers received the Johnny Podres Lifetime Achievement Award.

Frank Staucett, who was an Eastern League shortstop with the Albany Senators in the 1940s and ’50s, drew the biggest laughs of the evening.

Staucett joked about old age, even borrowing a few lines from Bob Hope. Then he talked about how “You know you’re old when you remember listening to Knute Rockne’s funeral on the radio,” and other indications one may be getting on in years, like remembering fouling off a pitch from Satchel Paige in an exhibition game and playing alongside Gil Hodges.

“However, you really know you’re old when you forget names and you forget faces and you forget to zip up your fly,” Staucett said. “But you’re never too old to get a call congratulating you on being selected to the Capital District Baseball Hall of Fame.

“When you’re rounding third base and time is running out, and you’d like to turn back the clock, it is a joy to be recognized so generously. It is an honor and a tribute to be associated with so many outstanding ballplayers.”

One of them was Dale Long, a Clifton Park native who still holds a share of the major league record for most consecutive games with a home run, having earned round trips in eight straight.

Long is one of many whose

careers and lives had already rounded third, as Staucett put it, crossed home and seen the stadium lights go dark. Wells was among a handful of youngsters just getting their pro careers rolling.

Queensbury’s Brendan Harris and Stauffer are the others. Stauffer pitches for the San Diego Padres, and Harris is an infielder who has played for the Minnesota Twins and played this past season in the minors for the Baltimore Orioles.

They have not yet put together careers like some of the men they join in the Capital District Baseball Hall of Fame, but they are the local names on the sports page that show the area’s young players what is possible, even in the smallest of towns.

“He wants to be a role model for the kids in the area,” the elder Wells said of his son. “He realizes that he had to work hard to get where he is now, and he wants other kids in the area to know it doesn’t matter where you’re from, geographically, if you work hard.”

Capital District Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees

George Rogers, Bob Bellizzi, Johnny Evers, Ebba St. Claire, Randy St. Claire, Dale Long, Jim Barbieri, Jimmy Esmond, Frank Staucet, Casper Wells, Mike Serbalik, Pat Salerno, Glen Baker, Johnny Podres, Tim Stauffer, Tom McAvoy, Mel Wolfgang,

David Palmer, Edsall Walker, Tony Rossi, Lee Riley, John Grabowski, Gary Holle, Brendan Harris, George Davis, Ira Thomas, Billy Harrell, Dan Peltier, Mickey Brantley, Bob Weaver, John Cerutti, Bill Stafford, Ed Barnowski, Billy Connors, Phil Donnelly, Don Blaha, Tommy Brennan.

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