Blaha heads new CD Basketbal Hall of Fame class
ALBANY Don Blaha, one of the most versatile athletes in Schenectady history, and Jim Seaman, a member of the 1960 unbeaten Linton basketball team who later played at Syracuse, are two of the newest members of the Capital District Basketball Hall of Fame.
“Playing with Barry Kramer, who was probably the greatest basketball player ever from the Capital Region, and also playing all of my home games at NYU at Madison Square Garden, were two of the highlights of my basketball career,” said Blaha. “We had a great team at Mont Pleasant, but we had to play Linton and Kramer two or three times a year. At NYU, I played with Kramer and Happy Hairston, so my role was as a defender and playmaker. Luckily, I could jump pretty high back then, so I played as an undersized forward, even in college. Then I scored a few points here and there.”
Blaha, already a member of the CD Baseball Hall of Fame, the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons Hall of Fame and the Schenectady City School District Hall of Fame, was a standout track and field performer, baseball player and golfer during his long athletic career, but he is perhaps best known for his work on the basketball court as a high school and college player, as well as a coach.
Blaha graduated from Mont Pleasant in 1959, and then teamed up with Kramer and Hairston on the NYU team that reached the “Sweet Sixteen” of the NCAA tournament in both 1962 and 1963.
He later coached the ND-BG basketball team that won 21 consecutive Diocesan League games from 1962 through 1965, and his Gibbons teams won three Diocesan League crowns, as well as the Eastern New York Catholic High School championship in 1964.
Blaha later was the player-coach for the Wedekind Pros semi-pro basketball team in 1965-66.
Blaha was also an undefeated high jumper and a New York state high jump champion his senior season and was a dominant baseball player for the Red Raiders, NYU and in the Albany Twilight League.
Also a well-known golfer, he held club scoring records at both the old Willows, currently Mohawk River Country Club & Chateau, and Stadium.
Seaman was a penetrating guard for the unbeaten 1960 Linton team.
“My role was to drive to the basket and pass back out to Barry,” he said. “I scored a few layups now and then, but Barry was definitely the heart and soul of the team.”
Seaman also started for nearly two years at Syracuse, but lost his starting job when the Orange hired a new coach and brought in the legendary Dave Bing.
“My biggest memory was playing NYU and Barry in the Garden, and also playing against the likes of Bill Bradley for Princeton and Rick Barry for Miami,” Seaman said.
Also inducted were former Siena College coach Bill Kirsch, Todd Cetnar (Amsterdam, UAlbany), Buddy Clarke (Saratoga Springs, Springfield), Joe Hogan (coach for both Watervliet and Siena women’s basketball), player scout Tom Konchalski (Fordham), former Hartwick coach Nick Lambros, Brian Larrabee (Colonie, Southern New Hampshire), Tim McGraw (CBA, Hartwick), Bill Stanley (St. Mary’s, LeMoyne), Eric Taylor (Shaker, Cornell), Bobby Sherlock (Catholic Central, Cincinnati), and Mike Van Schaick (Glens Falls, Fairfield).
Also inducted posthumously were Mont Pleasant graduate and former Union Star sports editor Al DeSantis, who was also owner of the Wedekinds and Schaefer Brewers semi-pro teams, and former CCHS coach Bill Carley.