Schenectady Hall of Fame: New class a tribute to versatility
SCHENECTADY Versatility and variety are the themes for the 13th annual Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame class.
Standout Linton wrestler Warren Crow, the late Mont Pleasant cross country sensation Ray Trail and three 1959-60 unbeaten teams — the 1959-60 Linton basketball team, the 1960 Linton golf team and the 1960 Mont Pleasant baseball teams — were inducted before a huge crowd of nearly 400 people Monday at the GE Theatre at Proctors.
Several Hall of Famers were being inducted a second or even a third time in a different sport. Legendary basketball coach Joe Loudis, already in the SCSD Hall of Fame as an individual (2008) and as part of the 1954 Schenectady Little League World Series champions, picked up a third induction as part of the undefeated Mont Pleasant baseball team. Mike Sahr went in as a member of both the Linton basketball and golf teams.
“Everyone is giving me the heat because I’ve been inducted so many times,” said Loudis, one of Section II’s greatest basketball coaches at both Cohoes and Mechanicville. “But I’m glad they are honoring the baseball team this year. That team deserved it.”
“Several other Schenectady teams of that era were also worthy of being inducted, but we had to draw a line at the undefeated teams,” said event organizer Bob Pezzano. “There were also two great cross country teams in 1959 and 1960, and both the Mont Pleasant and Linton football teams in those years were sensational, but they weren’t undefeated.”
“I’m not sure why there are so many great athletes from Schenectady,” said Barry Kramer, who led the 16-0 Linton basketball team, which is regarded by many as one of the greatest teams in Section II history. “I think that even in a bigger city like Newark, N.J., you wouldn’t find as many great athletes from that era. I think it goes back to the tradition that the coaches from that time built. Coaches like Walt Przybylo and Larry Mulvaney were fantastic. They began great traditions, and the players who followed them took pride in that. And I must say that there aren’t many areas in the country that celebrate their high school athletes the way Schenectady does.”
Crow, who not only went undefeated as a senior wrestler at Linton but also was the “Outstanding Wrestler” in both the 1961 and 1962 sectionals before continuing a sensational collegiate career at both Cornell and the University at Albany, said he didn’t appreciate how many outstanding athletes there were in Schenectady until he got older and read the press clippings.
“When I went to school, I rubbed elbows and hung out with guys like Barry Kramer, Mike Meola, Pat Riley and Pete Famiano,” said Crow. “Schenectady had great athletes in almost every sport, from gymnastics to golf to tennis. Those were the golden years of Schenectady sports. When we went to school, we just took it for granted. But when you look back now, you can appreciate what those athletes did. I’m so thrilled to be included in this group.”
Crow, a member of both the Section II and University at Albany Halls of Fame, was the first UAlbany athlete to win an NCAA championship.
Trail, a member of the Mont Pleasant Sports Hall of Fame, won the National Cross Country Championship in both 1935 and 1936, and ran the anchor leg of Mont Pleasant’s interscholastic medley relay championship team at the 1936 Penn Relays. He broke numerous school records and set an indoor record of 4:31.16 at Madison Square Garden’s national interscholastic mile in 1936.
The three unbeaten legacy teams were loaded with talent. Kramer, a Parade All-American, scored 30 points per game and later became an All-American at NYU before playing in the National Basketball Association with the Warriors, New York Knicks and Nets.
Sahr, Kramer’s cousin who grew up in the same house, said that team was undefeated because of Pryzbylo’s brilliant coaching.
“He was a master motivator who made us play as one unit. There was no dissention on that team. We all looked out for each other,” he said. “Not only was Barry one of the greatest players of all time, but we also had Jack Washington, who owned the boards, and Jim Seamon, one of the quickest players you will ever see.”
The other starter on that team was Bob Murray.
The Mont Pleasant baseball team went 8-0 in the Class A league and 9-0 overall. It was led by hard-throwing Ed Barnowski, who finished 5-0 with two no-hitters and 60 strikeouts in 34 innings. Barnowski later led all the minor leagues in strikeouts (322 in 222 innings) in 1964 and played in the major leagues with the Baltimore Orioles.
Dick Odorizzi was Barnowski’s catcher. “He definitely threw a heckuva fastball, but to be truthful, he was always working on his curveball,” said Odorizzi.
“That was a great team we had, because we had pitching with Barnowski and Al Steele, we had hitting and we had defense.”
Loudis was the leadoff hitter on that team, while Joe DeCarlo topped the team in hitting with a .560 average.
“Nobody wanted to play us because we were so good,” said Loudis. “We had the pitching, the hitting and the defense.”
Nearly the entire 1960 Linton golf team was on hand for the induction ceremony, including Jim Reid, Jack Gold, Sahr and Al Bilgore.
“Pete Famiano was the center of that team, but Jim Reid was also a fine player,” said Sahr. “Pete and Jim could shoot low scores, but the rest of us could all shoot in the mid to high 70s. And I do want to point out that although Bilgore was like the fifth or sixth man, he was one of the best putters you would ever see.”
The 1960 golf team had a 35-match unbeaten streak and was 11-0 in 1960. Famiano, who died a little over a year ago, became a golf professional and was inducted into the New Jersey PGA Hall of Fame.