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Schenectady street may be renamed after Little League champions' coach

Monday, April 7, 2014
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Schenectady City Councilman Vince Riggi has proposed has made a proposal to change the name of a small section of Norwood Ave. (from Michigan Ave. to Pennsylvania Ave.) in honor of 1954 Schenectady Little League manager Mike Maietta. Schenectady Little League and Norwood Ave. seen in the background.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Schenectady City Councilman Vince Riggi has proposed has made a proposal to change the name of a small section of Norwood Ave. (from Michigan Ave. to Pennsylvania Ave.) in honor of 1954 Schenectady Little League manager Mike Maietta. Schenectady Little League and Norwood Ave. seen in the background.

— If Councilman Vince Riggi gets his way, the late Mike Maietta will get his.

A public hearing will be held later this month on whether to rename an uninhabited two-block section of Norwood Avenue near the Maietta-Buonome Little League Field “Mike Maietta Way.”

Riggi was surprised to learn that many of his governmental colleagues did not know of the man who 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.

“That struck me,” Riggi said. “That told me we need something, something permanent, to show what he did for the city’s youths and for baseball.”

Riggi first brought up the proposal informally last year, but thought the 60th anniversary year of the title team would be more appropriate. The councilman hopes to have the street renamed in time for a planned Aug. 27 celebration, which would mark 60 years to the day Schenectady won the title.

“He’s been gone for a long time,” Riggi said. “He needs a tribute. He put 40 years in.”

Maietta died in 1998.

“It’s the least we can do for this man,” Riggi said. “He put Schenectady on the map in the 1950s. You had GE and Schenectady Little League — and Mike worked for GE.”

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.”

The proposal appears to have widespread support among those who knew Maietta.

“Mike Maietta was Little League Baseball in Schenectady,” said Tony Buonome, who played for and managed against him.

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). He said “there is no doubt in my mind” Maietta could have managed at the highest levels of baseball ... or that he deserves a street in his name.

“It’s about time. Long overdue,” the Spokane, Wash., resident said. “My first year in spring training, they were teaching me stuff Mike taught us when we were 12 years old. He probably taught us more. He was a man before his time.

“When I get back to Schenectady, I will make sure to drive down Maietta Way.

A public hearing on the name change will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, April 14, in the City Council Chamber of City Hall.

 
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