Amsterdam resident recalls time at ballpark concession

A small company in Broadalbin made the hot dogs for the concession stand at Mohawk Mills Park during

A small company in Broadalbin made the hot dogs for the concession stand at Mohawk Mills Park during the era of Amsterdam Rugmakers baseball games. The facility today is called Shuttleworth Park and is home to the Amsterdam Mohawks.

Nick Sampone Sr. of Amsterdam enjoyed the recent column on Arthur Hartig, caretaker of the park from the 1960s to the 1980s. Sampone said his father, Anthony “Tony” Sampone, ran the ballpark concession stand in the 1940s and 1950s. Tony Sampone also operated Sampone’s confectionery at Morris and East Main streets in Amsterdam’s East End.

“I vividly recall Rugmakers’ pitchers Mike Rossi and Lew Burdette carrying me across the parking lot on their shoulders,” Nick Sampone said. Rossi’s career was limited to the minor leagues. Burdette pitched for several major league teams and was the most valuable player in the 1957 World Series, playing for the victorious Milwaukee Braves.

A New York Yankees farm team, the Rugmakers played in the Canadian American League.

Sampone remembers talking with Tommy LaSorda, who pitched for the Schenectady Blue Jays of the Can-Am League, once striking out 25 batters in a 15-inning Blue Jays game. LaSorda is in the Baseball Hall of Fame for managing the Dodgers to eight division titles and two world championships.

Jobs to be done

At the Amsterdam ballpark Sampone’s job was to sell soda for his Dad and collect the 15-or 25-cent cushions that had been rented and take them back to the concession stand. In addition to the Broadalbin frankfurters, his Dad roasted fresh peanuts. A young man named Charles Bertuch, who went on to be a prominent local physician, sold sodas in the grandstand.

Sampone said the caretaker of the park in those days was Homer Jenkins and the groundskeeper was Lenny Cetnar. One of the batboys for the Rugmakers was Don Decker, who went on to be a prominent TV news director at WRGB and WTEN. Another batboy was Frank “Butch” Miller, who in later years was an assistant in the Amsterdam High football program.

Sampone said, “I recall delivering refreshments up the long staircase to the rooftop announcers’ booth to sportswriter Johnny Page of the Recorder.”

As the 1948 season was about to get underway, Page wrote in his column “Page in the Sportbook” that Tony Sampone had a limited number of copies of the souvenir history of the Rugmakers available.

Nick Sampone said, “I still reside close to Shuttleworth Park and enjoy bringing our great granddaughters, Laurita and Victoria, to the park. Occasionally, I stand on the same grandstand steel girder and remember many happy days so many years ago!”

Free admission

The late John Szkaradek recalled a woman named Charlotte Snyder who attended every Rugmakers game and rang a loud cowbell. An older gentleman who worked as a carpenter was at all the games, helping the umpires call balls and strikes. As a youngster, Szkaradek tried to get in for free by finding baseballs that had been hit out of the park. If that didn’t work, he and other children resorted to peepholes in the fence.

In 1939 when Virginia Dybas Czelusniak of Amsterdam used to go to the games, admission was 40 cents and the program cost 5 cents. Czelusniak, who grew up on Crane Street, said she and her friends walked to the park and liked talking with the young ballplayers.

Marker unveiled

During a recent Amsterdam Mohawks game, Historic Amsterdam League unveiled a marker recounting the 100-year history of the park. The facility has been known as Crescent Park, Jollyland, Mohawk Mills Park and most recently Shuttleworth Park. The marker will be permanently installed later this summer.

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