Long-time sponsor Larry Pignataro, umpiring chief Gary Neunder and 11 former players who starred in local amateur leagues over the years make up the 2013 class of inductees for the Western New York Baseball Hall of Fame.
The 13 individuals will be honored at the 17th annual Induction Dinner on Sept. 18 at the Lake Erie Italian Club, 3200 South Park Avenue in Lackawanna. For tickets, call 825-9870.
This year’s inductees:
Charley Barone: Right-hand pitching ace for state and regional champion Plewacki Post (1962) as well as Grover Cleveland High, Morehead State and Muny teams at all levels in the 1950s and ’60s.
Kevin Burdick: Ballhawking outfielder and All-Star performer for Lockport Felts and Bus Lines teams in Suburban ball. Ended up as a player-manager for seven seasons. Career spanned 1966-1991.
John Cross: An All-Star pitcher in Suburban League for seven seasons with Danna’s, Niagara Permanents and DMI. Had numerous double-digit strikeout performances.
Chester Figiel: Started playing as 15-year-old shortstop for Woodlawn in Lake Shore League in 1940s before playing one season of minor league ball then enlisting in Navy.
Bob Hoepfinger: Power-hitting Muny AAA outfielder for Ramblers and Almaroones after making All-Catholic at Bishop Timon. Played at Marietta College and later coached high school, Suburban and Little League.
Rick Mariano: Middle of the order hitter and infielder for championship teams in AAABA, Cheektowaga Classic and Muny ball and later successful manager in AAABA, Muny and at St. Joe’s.
Gary Neunder: Pitched at Canisius High (All-Catholic) and Bellarmine College (Ky.), where his coach was basketball great Alex Groza, AAABA, Legion and Muny. Better known as chief of WNY Umpires Association for last 33 years.
Larry Pignataro: One of amateur ball’s most loyal and enduring supporters. Played seven years of Muny ball but biggest contributions have been as sponsor, manager, coach and advisor for teams in Cheektowaga Classic, Muny and AAABA.
James Pernick: Hard-working former St. Joe’s and Niagara University star who played for 10 seasons in AAA Muny (Ken Hy) and the Suburban Leagues mostly as a catcher but sometimes as a pitcher and third baseman.
Pete Rizzo: Veteran Muny AAA (Nowaks, Francos, Sloan Bruins, Mustangs, Manzellas) and Suburban teams campaigner. Slugger who once batted cleanup in Nowaks Muny AA lineup that included future big leaguer Phil Mankowski and local great Duke McGuire.
Jerry Slawek: A fixture as player and coach for Ludtka and Rose Garden teams in Cheektowaga Classic League but also starred for coach Pat Kane’s ECIC championship teams at Maryvale and once led Muny A League with .444 batting average for Al Bemiller team.
John Spadafora: Started playing Muny ball at age 14 mostly for Kick’s & Eddies Sporting Goods but later for 1000 Club, Ramblers and Simon Pures. Played at Cardinal Dougherty and Canisius College (batted .510 as a senior). Shortstop on Kick’s team that went 16-0 in AAABA, won playoffs and lost in championship game in Johnstown, Pa.
Scott Yudess: Perennial Suburban All-Star (1989-2001) for Amherst teams mostly as middle infielder. Also played Muny, Legion and AAABA. All-WNY player at Williamsville East and played on College World Series team at University of Arkansas. Later coached high school and college.