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What you need to know for 02/26/2017

Schenectady's Mike Maietta gets his way

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Schenectady's Mike Maietta gets his way

The boys of summer are men of winter now, their bodies offering only hints of their athletic pasts.
Schenectady's Mike Maietta gets his way
Billy Siddons, 10 years old, a Schenectady Little League player, tries on a Little League World Series jacket from 1959 with the help on Councilman Vince Riggi during a dedication for coach Mike Maietta at the Norwood Avenue Little League field in Sche...
Photographer: Patrick Dodson

Mike Maietta

* Played baseball and basketball at Schenectady High School.

* Helped to bring Little League baseball to Schenectady.

* Managed Schenectady Little League All-Star teams for four decades.

* Took three All-Star teams to Williamsport, Pa., and Little League Word Series:

World Champions (1954)

Second Place (1953)

Third Place (1959).

* Also won 13 district titles, eight sectional championships, six state titles and three regional championships.

* Played professional baseball in the minors (Can Am League , NY-Penn League , Georgia-Florida League and Middle Atlantic League).

* Member of the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame.

Source: Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame

The boys of summer are men of winter now, their bodies offering only hints of their athletic pasts.

"I think I can still fit into my uniform," Chuck Caputo of Glenville said. "I didn't grow much."

The men, in their 60s and 70s now, gathered Wednesday morning alongside an uninhabited two-block stretch of Norwood Avenue to join in honoring their once-and-always manager.

"Mike was a great guy, and a great manager," said Jackie Scirocco. "And he always got his way."

And on Wednesday, 60 years to the day he led Caputo, Scirocco and the rest of the Schenectady team to the Little League World Series title, Mike Maietta got it again, with the dedication of Mike Maietta Way — the section of Norwood Avenue that runs adjacent to the Maietta-Buonome Little League Field.

Maietta built Schenectady Little League into an international power, managing teams to three Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., in the 1950s, winning in 1954.

"It's great for the city, and great for Mike," said Caputo, who played on the 1954 title team. "He is an institution."

Maietta coached for more than four decades in the city, leading Schenectady to the world series in 1953 (second), 1954 (first) and 1959 (third).

Although not televised on an ESPN (which did not exist), that title brought as much national attention to Schenectady as Union College's NCAA hockey championship this spring, with features in numerous national magazines. Mayor Gary McCarthy called it "a tremendously significant event in the history of the city."

For many, the dedication of a street in Maietta's honor is a long time coming.

"Sixty years is a little late," said Joe Loudis of Cohoes, who played on the 1953 and 1954 World Series teams. "Mike was an inspiration."

Current Little Leaguers and elected officials were in the crowd. Chet Godlewski of Schenectady had one of the finest artifacts in attendance His red Little League World Series jacket from 1959.

The renaming was brought about through the efforts Councilman Vince Riggi, who emceed the ceremony.

Maryellen Divinichi, Maietta's daughter, unveiled the new street sign.

"This is a wonderful tribute," said Divinichi, whose father died in 1998. "Players, I will never forget that era. I remember every time I see baseball."

In a 1993 interview with The Daily Gazette, Maietta addressed the impact those teams had on the city.

"When we were down there in '53, people didn't know where Schenectady was," he said. "The following year when we went down and won it, they knew where Schenectady was. The third time we went (in 1959), they knew how to spell it."

Jim Barbieri holds a unique place in baseball, having played in the Little League World Series for the '54 Schenectady team, thrown out a first pitch in a major league World Series (1954, Polo Grounds) and later playing in one (1966, with the Los Angeles Dodgers). The Little League captain could not attend Wednesday but sent a letter from Spokane, Wash., that was read.

"He made sure there was no I's or me's on the team, only we," he wrote. "The name Maietta will live on forever."

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