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Friday, April 17, 2015 at 9:27 am

Notre Dame beats Lyndonville 4-3

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

Notre Dame came from behind to beat Lyndonville 4-3 at Dwyer Stadium on Thursday.

Top photo: CJ Souzzi is out at home trying to score the team's fifth run after Larry Infantino had crossed the plate a moment before on Peter Madafferi's double.

Here's Coach Mike Rapone's game summary:

Tyler Prospero pitched six strong, scoreless innings to pick up the win in relief of starter Casey Midwick who left with tightness in his pitching arm as ND rallied to win 4-3. Prospero's line was 6 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 6K and no walks. Lyndonville's had a 3-run first on a Brandon Schoolcraft RBI double and Eric Nease's 2-run triple. The Irish responded with two first inning runs on Mike Falitico's RBI groundout and Michael Muehlig's 2-out RBI single. They tied it in the fifth when Cal Tygart tripled to deep center and scored on another Mike Falitico RBI groundout. The winning run was scored by Larry Infantino, who walked, moved to second on CJ Suozzi's single and scored on Peter Madafferi's RBI double.

Friday, March 27, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Batavia Muckdogs 'Hit the Books' with summer reading program

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, muckdogs, sports

Press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs today announced the start of their reading program, designed to promote reading amongst the youth of the local communities. Along with the help of NY's 529 College Savings Program, 2015 will mark the third year of the “HIT THE BOOKS with the Batavia Muckdogs” reading program. 

As part of this program, the Muckdogs have provided various schools and libraries across local counties with customized bookmarks. On the back of these bookmarks, children can have a parent, guardian, teacher, or librarian initial each time they complete a book. When a child completes 10 books, they can redeem the bookmark at the Dwyer Stadium box office for a FREE TICKET to any Sunday --Thursday Batavia Muckdogs game! In addition to the free ticket, the child will also receive a prize courtesy of NYs 529 College Savings Program. If a child reads 20 books, they will be entered into a drawing to win a backpack with school supplies, provided by NY's 529 College Savings Program; along with the opportunity to throw out a first pitch at a Muckdogs game.

In addition to the many participating schools, bookmarks will be made available to children at the following local libraries:

·         Richmond Memorial Library (Batavia)

·         Lee-Whedon Memorial Library (Medina)

·         Byron-Bergen Public Library

·         Haxton Memorial Library (Oakfield)

·         Hoag Library (Albion)

·         Pavilion Public Library

·         Corfu Free Library

·         Woodward Memorial Library (Le Roy)

·         Holley Community Free Library

Any questions about the reading program, bookmarks, or redeeming for tickets can be answered by Mike Ewing, at 585-343-5454, ext. 1005.

Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 10:27 pm

Photos: Muckdogs Boosters annual Hot Stove Dinner

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, muckdogs, sports

The Batavia Muckdogs Boosters held their annual Hot Stove Dinner Saturday night at Sacred Heart.

Club President Brian Paris gave a state-of-baseball-and-the-Muckdogs speech and talked about his trip recently to the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame in Kansas City.

The trip, he said, had him reflecting on the major transition baseball went through in the 1950s as Negro League stars and rising stars were finally admitted into Major League Baseball, and the transition facing baseball now as it tries to appeal to younger generations.

The way to ensure continued interest in the game is to bring children to baseball games. As an act of symbolism he surprised his son Zach with a gift from the Negro Museum, a jacket, that he said represented both baseball's past and its future by honoring its past in a memorable way.  

Bill Kauffman discussed Bill Dougherty's book about the history of baseball in Batavia.

Previously: Batavia's rich baseball history recalled in new book by Bill Dougherty

Hal Mitchell, representing the boosters and local Vietnam vets, along with Paris for the Muckdogs board, made donations to the PTSD program for women at the VA Hospital. Accepting the donations was Caryn DiLandro, the program manager.

Todd Jantzi, owner of Bontrager's Auctions, conducted the live auction.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Batavia Muckdogs announced 2015 season manager and coaching staff

post by Billie Owens in baseball, muckdogs, sports

Press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs have announced their manager and coaching staff for the 2015 season. For the third season in a row, this year’s squad will be lead by manager Angel Espada, pitching coach Brendan Sagara and hitting coach Rigoberto Silverio.

The 2015 campaign marks Angel Espada’s fourth year as the manager for the Marlins’ short-season Single-A affiliate, third as manager of the Batavia Muckdogs. Espada led the Muckdogs to a 34-42 record in 2014 and has compiled a 117-110 record during his time in Batavia. Espada spent the 2012 season as the manager of the Jamestown Jammers and the year prior as the hitting coach for the Jammers. Prior to his time with Jamestown, he spent two years working as the hitting coach for the Gulf Coast League Marlins.

Espada was a 42nd-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in the 1994 First-Year Player Draft. In addition to the Braves, he also played in the Mets’ and Yankees’ systems. His playing career spanned 14 years and he finished with a .305 career batting average over 940 games played.

Brendan Sagara begins his fourth season as pitching coach for the Marlins’ short-season Single-A affiliate. Sagara has served as a pitching coach for 13 seasons with various teams. He broke into the coaching profession with the Dubois County Dragons of the Frontier League in 2001 as the Club’s pitching coach. He has also worked for the Braves as a part-time scout (2010-11) and the Mets as an associate scout (2006-09). In 2007, he was named Coach of the Year in Windy City of the Frontier League, while boasting the league’s top pitching staff.

Rigoberto Silverio returns for his third campaign as Batavia’s hitting coach and his seventh year in the Marlins organization. Prior to 2013, he spent two seasons as a coach for Jupiter. He spent his first three seasons with organization as a coach for the Jamestown Jammers. In his five seasons in the Marlins farm system, the former infielder was a career .243 hitter in 225 games.

Michael Bibbo will once again serve as the trainer for the 2015 season, his third year with the both the Muckdogs’ and Marlins’ organizations. Bibbo previously was the interim Head Athletic Trainer at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia. Prior to that, he spent four years (August 2007-September ‘10, September 2011-June ‘12) as the Assistant Athletic Trainer at Malvern Preparatory School. He spent seven months (February-August 2011) as the Rehabilitation Intern with the Philadelphia Phillies. Bibbo received his Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science from California University of Pennsylvania in 2012 and his bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., in 2007.

The Muckdogs home opener is set for Friday, June 19th vs. Auburn at 7:05. Season tickets, coupon books and ticket packages are all on sale now. They can be purchased at Dwyer Stadium or by calling (585)343-5454.

Monday, February 16, 2015 at 11:21 pm

Haley, a dog well known to Batavia Muckdogs fans, passes

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, Batavia Muckdogs, muckdogs, sports

Sad news for Batavia Muckdogs fans from Don Rock, head groundskeeper: He had to put down his dog, Haley, who was a familiar part of game days at Dwyer Stadium the past few years.

Rock said Haley had kidney problems.

"It was a very difficult thing for me to have to do and right now it is very rough for me, to say the least," Rock said.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Muckdogs announce 2015 schedule

post by Billie Owens in baseball, muckdogs, sports

Press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs, Class A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, have announced their schedule for the 2015 season. Batavia will open the 2015 season at home on Friday, June 19th, when the Auburn Doubledays visit Dwyer Stadium.

The Muckdogs will host their annual Independence Day celebration on July 3rd this year, as they are not home on July 4th. The Muckdogs also have a home game scheduled for Father's Day (June 21) this season. In addition to their Pinckney Division rivals, the Muckdogs will welcome the Boston Red Sox (Lowell), Detroit Tigers (Connecticut), Houston Astros (Tri-City) and Oakland A’s (Vermont) farm teams to Dwyer Stadium in 2015.

Here is a month-by-month and day-by-day breakdown of Batavia’s 2015 home schedule:

Month    Home Games    Day         Home Games
June                6               Sunday            5
July                13              Monday           4
Aug.               17              Tuesday          5
Sept.                2              Wednesday    7
                                        Thursday         5
                                         Friday             7
                                         Saturday       5

Season tickets, coupon books and ticket packages for the 2015 season are all on sale now. They can be purchased by calling 585-343-5454 or in person at Dwyer Stadium, Monday thru Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For a complete schedule, visit www.muckdogs.com.

Friday, September 26, 2014 at 7:00 am

Johnny Bench got his Batavia Muckdog's hat

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, Batavia Downs, Batavia Muckdogs, sports

This past weekend we told you about the visit Hall of Famer Johnny Bench paid to Batavia Downs, and we mentioned that Bench expressed an interest in seeing a Batavia Muckdog's baseball cap.

The person with Bench at the time was season ticket holder Ross Fanara. Fanara called his wife and confirmed that they in fact had a brand new Muckdog's hat at home, so she brought it to Batavia Downs and they presented it to Bench.

Fanara sent over this picture of him with Bench wearing the Batavia Muckdogs hat.

Ross said, "Johnny Bench is a class act."

Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 7:58 am

Johnny Bench, from Buffalo to Batavia with a Hall of Fame career along the way

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, Batavia Downs, sports

Johnny Bench was just a 19-year-old kid from a town of 600 people in Oklahoma when he arrived in Buffalo 47 years ago.

"I didn't venture much beyond the Kenmore District and North Tonawanda," Bench said during an interview Saturday at Batavia Downs when asked if this was his first visit to Batavia. "I was still trying to figure out who I was and who I was supposed to be."

His 98 games as a Buffalo Bison in 1967 helped answer some of those questions.

"I matured (in Buffalo)," Bench said. "I had older players I played with. They gave me a lot of guidance, worked with me, helped me along. It was a great stepping stone, more importantly for the Dom Zannis, the Jim Duffalos, the Steve Boroses, the Duke Carmels, the Frank Obregons and the Gordy Colemans, and there was Dick Stigman, a pitcher, too, and Rollie Sheldon. It was a maturation process. These guys had pitched before. I kept calling games and learning stuff and doing stuff and you had to get the most out them. I felt like I could paint the picture, but I had to pull it all out of them. That was the secret and the thing I learned the most and enjoyed the most here."

That list of former Bisons -- who, unless you were a Bisons' fan in 1967, you probably never heard of -- were all 30 years old or older. Bench was the youngest player on the team, and one of only six players who hadn't yet turned 23.

But through the years, Buffalo stayed with Johnny Bench. All those names, easily recalled. He turned a question about his legacy into remembrance of a time before he became rookie of the year, an MVP, won two home run crowns, 10 gold gloves and played on two world championship teams.

"We played at the old War Memorial Stadium, but then they had the riots," Bench said. "We had to go over to Niagara Falls and play on the old football field with the temporary snow fence. The yardage lines were still there on the infield."

Arguably -- and some of us would say it's beyond dispute -- Johnny Bench was the greatest catcher in baseball history.

We can talk about his 389 career home runs, his 1,376 RBI, his 3,644 total bases, as well as two home run titles and three RBI titles, but suggest he's best remembered as an offensive catcher and he's quick to rebuff the audacity of dwelling on how he swung a bat.

"The 10 gold gloves didn't hurt," says the man whom base runners feared and pitchers counted on to do a very basic thing time after time: catch the ball.

"That was my main job, getting a win for the pitcher," Bench said. "I took great pride in the fact that I wanted to get that pitcher a win and if we got a win for him, we got a win for the team. Individually, I could throw runners out, I could block the plate, I could get hits, I could call a great game, but calling a great game was the most important."

And it was guys in Buffalo, like Zanni, Duffalo, Obregon, Stigman and Sheldon, who taught him to call a great game.

Bench was in town for a memorabilia show at the Downs. So were Pete Rose, Tony Perez and George Foster, along with other sports stars.

It's worth noting, perhaps, that Bench, Rose, Perez, Foster, and the other stars were signing autographs for a fee. Bench and Rose commanded the highest price, especially on a jersey or bat, but they all got paid.

On the other side of the proverbial coin, of course, is that fact that as players, none of them were enriched the way today's stars are lavished with cash. Bench never earned as much as $500,000 in a season and Rose never made it to the million-dollar mark until his final year as a player-manager with the Reds.

So it's not surprising, perhaps, that these heros of so many youths so many years ago would travel to America's small towns, sit under bright lights on folding chairs at plastic tables and sign their names for fans and speculators for a fee.

While Bench was affable and at times chatty with patrons who came through his line about an hour after Rose had finished, Rose seemed detached from the parade of people pushing baseballs, bats, jerseys, baseball cards and 8x10s onto the table in front of him.

An assistant sternly rebuffed a fan who asked if Rose would pose for a picture. No, she said, but he could kneel in front of the table while somebody snapped a keepsake.

Rose didn't even look at the camera.  

Rather than a smile, Rose wore the look of a man who seems beaten down by a decades-long wrestling match with the Lords of Baseball over his legacy.

In contrast, there sat a youthful, smiling Johnny Bench, with his Hall of Fame ring secure on his left hand, scanning the field and letting nothing go unnoticed.

"That's my jersey," he says to a woman with a camera standing off to the side waiting to snap a picture of a friend who will get an autograph.

As a man tries to get a picture of his friend with Bench as Bench signs a picture, Bench tells him to wait. "I'm not looking up," he says.

When the same photographer seems to move the camera before the shutter snaps, Bench says, "that one's not going to turn out," but the quick-release snapper has moved on without noticing.

Without being asked, he poses for another photographer with a bat at the ready.

When he meets a Batavia Muckdogs season ticket holder, he says as he signs, "I don't even know what a Muckdog's baseball hat looks like. I'd like to see one."

The 66-year-old Johnny Bench smiled and signed and kept chatting even in the face of a line dozens of people long. His massive hands -- hands that make grizzly bears stand up and take notice -- etched a beautiful cursive on whatever he was asked to sign.

Johnny Bench is always the team player.

"Winning an MVP award or rookie of the year, it's a fantastic honor, but there is nothing like the feeling though when I walked into the clubhouse after game seven of the '75 World Series and we were World Champions," Bench said. "That's when I knew what it was all about, because every player was a world champion. Every player, every owner, every sponsor, every equipment manager, and all the fans were world champions. That's when you can really share and realize the importance of what team sport is about."

Bench isn't without some pride over his individual accomplishments. When asked to sign a 1972 San Diego Padres game program with Nate Colbert on the cover, Bench smiled, "Old Nate," he said. "I hit five homers in the last week of the season to beat him for a home run title."

In 1972, Colbert had 38 dingers. Bench had 40.

To enjoy a career like Johnny Bench, that's one in a billion, but just getting the chance to go pro for today's young athlete is nearly impossible.

Bench, who went straight from high school to the Reds instructional league team at age 17 in 1965, said today's young athlete should take advantage of the wealth of college scholarship opportunities.

"When I played, only one in every 500,000 kids who played Little League baseball ever signed a contract," Bench said. "I don't know if they want to go up against the numbers, but the fact that there's so many scholarships out there available, I'll still push education every chance I get. Be a good student, study various things, find something you love and be prepared in case athletics doesn't work out."

If you do want to be an athlete, Bench said, work hard, practice, study the sport, prepare, understand the game. Watch the great ones to figure out what they do and how they do it.

"I think Ozzie Smith is a guy who taught kids how to play shortstop," Bench said. "I taught kids how to catch better."

Which brings us to Johnny Bench's final word of advice: Catch every ball.

"My theory in life is, 'catch every ball.' Somebody says, 'my kid wants to be a catcher, what do I tell him?' and I say, 'catch every ball.' If you learn to catch everything that comes your way, then people say, 'wow, you're a great catcher,' or 'you're a great shortstop,' or 'you're a great first baseman,' or 'you're a great businessman.' If they throw stuff at you and you have the answers, they're going to say, 'this guy really knows what he's doing.' People are going to rely on you and they're going to trust you and more things will come your way."

Pete Rose

Tony Perez

Lou Piniella

After the show, Pete Rose stopped at Larry's Steakhouse for dinner. Pictured with Sandy Mullen and Brenden Mullen. Photo submitted by Steve Mullen.

Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 8:00 am

Muckdogs drop game to Scrappers, 2-1

post by Howard B. Owens in baseball, batavia, muckdogs, sports

Silent Muckdogs bats Friday night meant strong performances by Muckdogs pitchers went to waste and Batavia dropped the contest against Mahoning Valley, 2-1.

Starter Ben Holmes and reliever Jacob Smigelski carried a 1-0 shutout into the 7th inning, but Smigelski let the lead slip away and Josh Hodges gave up the deciding run in the ninth.

It was a disappointing loss on a night when 1,532 fans turned out on a night billed as an attempt to break the all-time Batavia attendance record by drawing 3,001 patrons.

Obviously, that didn't happen.

Those who did show up got to see a hard-throwing Holmes, a ninth-round draft choice out of the University of Oregon, strike out seven and scatter three hits over four frames.

Hodges took the loss and his record moves to 1-5 (with six saves) despite a respectable 3.06 ERA.

Catcher Brad Haynal, who returned to the team last night after a 13-game stint with Class A Greensboro, had two hits. Center Fielder Josh Norwood also had two hits.

The same two teams go at it again tonight at Dwyer. Game time, 7:05.

Friday, August 22, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Tonight is largest crowd contest, season's last fireworks at Muckdogs vs. Scrappers game

post by Billie Owens in baseball, muckdogs, sports

Information provided by Batavia Muckdogs Booster Club:

Tonight baseball fans should flock to Dwyer Stadium to be part of a milestone in the history of pro baseball in Genesee County. The goal is to break the ball park's 75-year-old attendance record.

The Muckdogs face the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at 7:05, and one lucky fan could win $3,001!

Fans must register for the drawing at the ballpark but no purchase is necessary. All Muckdogs’ season ticket holders are automatically eligible to win. Tonight will also feature the last post-game fireworks show of the 2014 season.

The first season consisted of six teams in the Pennsylvania/Ontario/New York League (The Pony League): Batavia Clippers, Bradford Bees, Hamilton Red Wings, Jamestown Jaguars, Niagara Falls Rainbows, and the Olean Oilers.

When baseball came to Batavia in 1939, a crowd of 3,000 gathered on May 10 at what was known at the time as State Street Park. They sat in borrowed folding chairs from a funeral home in an outfield behind a snow fence (the actual wood fence hadn't been built yet).

They watched our Clippers lose to the Jaguars, 9-4.

Just before the start of tonight's game, at about 6:45, the Muckdogs Booster Club will be handing out awards to the team's four All Stars. Each one will receive $25 cash; the Booster Club's most popular player will receive $100 cash and a trophy.

There will be one extra award this year. With this being the Diamond Anniversary of professional baseball in Batavia, a special fan will be lauded for decades of attendance and going the extra mile to help keep baseball here.

Snapple is tonight's sponsor and free Snapple beverage samples will on hand and there will be a T-shirt toss!

The Launch-a-Ball game will be presented by the Hillside Family of Agencies.

Game tickets can be purchased at the Dwyer Stadium Box Office or over the phone by calling (585) 343-5454. Normal box office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday -- Friday.

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