“Pride of Schenectady:” Three teams distinguished themselves with perfect records 50 years ago
With four future Division I college players in the starting lineup, a brilliant coach, a superstar 30-point scorer and a strong bond of friendship that kept the group clicking on all cylinders throughout a challenging schedule, it’s no wonder the 1959-60 undefeated Linton High School basketball team was considered one of the greatest in Capital Region history.
That all-star unit, along with the undefeated 1960 Mont Pleasant High School baseball team and the unbeaten 1960 Linton golf team, will be honored as legacy teams at Monday’s 13th annual Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame & Reunion Dinner at Proctors.
Coached by the legendary Walt Przybylo, Linton not only won the Class A league title, but also finished the season with a 16-0 record. The powerhouse finished the 1959-60 campaign on a 31-game winning streak.
Barry Kramer, a first-team Parade All-American who was not only an Associated Press All-American at New York University, but was also a first-round NBA draft selection by the Warriors in 1964 and later played with the Knicks and the Nets, averaged 30.6 points per game to lead the Linton juggernaut. He was joined by Jim Seaman and Bob Murray, who went on to play at Syracuse University, the late Jack Washington, who played at the University of Dayton, and Mike Sahr, who played for Union College.
“It was an amazing group,” said Kramer, both a SCSD and Capital District Basketball Hall of Famer who is considered one of the greatest players ever to wear a basketball uniform in this area. “First of all, we all got along great. Coach Przybylo was behind it all. It was like he was the father and we were his family. We all talked all the time, and he always talked to us as a group. Whether you were on the freshman team, the JV or the varsity, he talked to you like he was your father. The chemistry that developed was really something. We were all great friends.”
Part of Linton’s success was that the players on this all-star team genuinely liked each other.
“For one thing, we all knew each other extremely well,” said Kramer, who is now a state Supreme Court justice. “Mike Sahr was my cousin, and we lived in the same house — upstairs and downstairs — throughout our childhood. We were an extremely close-knit team.
“The other thing I believe was a key for this group was that the rivalry between Mont Pleasant and Linton in those days was fierce. It was so intense that it made everybody better. The Mont Pleasant and Linton teams were always the best teams in the area, and even the coaches respected each other. In fact, Coach Przybylo and Mont Pleasant coach Dick Suprunowicz were both disciples of Sig Makofski. I think that kind of team we developed into came from that rivalry.”
LINTON GOLF TEAM
Also coached by Przybylo, the Linton golf team compiled an unbeaten streak of 35 consecutive matches over three years, including an 11-0 mark in 1960.
The team went on to beat Niskayuna by one stroke for its seventh Section II title in 11 years and also topped Union-Endicott by one shot for the New York state championship.
“We had a lot of pride and talent on that team,” said Jim Reid, who was the sectional medalist that year at Glens Falls Country Club. “Nobody was really the first man on that team. We always played against par. We had a lot of confidence, and we always felt that we had five good players on that team.”
The late Pete Famiano, who was inducted into the SCSD Hall of Fame in 2008, was an integral part of that team. He eventually became a golf professional and was inducted into the New Jersey PGA Hall of Fame.
“Pete was a real gentleman,” Reid said. “He was not a hot head on the course, and he had a great swing. He wasn’t a long-ball hitter, but he was accurate and faded the ball. He was an excellent ball-striker with a great attitude.”
Reid said that many of the former players on that team, including two-sport standout Mike Sahr and Jack Gold, who plays out of Mohawk, still get together to play a round or two.
MONT PLEASANT BASEBALL TEAM
A limited schedule didn’t take any luster off this fabulous team, which was coached by SCSD Athletic Hall of Famer Tony Parisi.
The first unbeaten team in Mont Pleasant history, the Red Raiders were 8-0 in the Class A league and 9-0 overall.
Hall of Famer Joe Loudis, who went on to become a legendary basketball coach for both Cohoes and Mechanicville, was the leadoff hitter, and second baseman Joe DeCarlo led the team in hitting with a robust .560 batting average.
“We didn’t play hardly at all that year,” said ace pitcher Ed Barnowski, a fireballer who went on to pitch for Syracuse University and the Baltimore Orioles. “We practiced more than we played that year. I remember that we were a junior-dominated team.”
Barnowski, who estimates he threw a fastball in the mid-90s, led the squad with a 5-0 record, two no-hitters and 60 strikeouts in 34 innings.
“From what I remember, we had a good lineup that year,” said Barnowski, who pitched in six games for the Orioles in 1965 and 1966 with a 2.45 ERA. He also led all the minor leagues in strikeouts with 322 in 222 innings in 1964.
Dick Odorizzi was Barnowski’s primary catcher, while Fred Riggi, Paul Angerami and Jerry Carnevale were other key players.
“Baseball is a team sport, and it takes a complete team to win games,” said Barnowski, who lives in Minnesota and won’t be able to attend Monday’s festivities because of a prior family commitment. “I would just like to congratulate everyone and let them all know that I hope to see them soon. I just feel horrible not being there, but family comes first. I do have a lot of friends back there, though, and I would have loved to see them.”