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June 25, 1935 - Dec. 31, 2013

Michael J. Catanzaro, a widely known local baseball coach for more than 50 years, died Dec. 31 at his home in Elma. He was 78.

A native of Buffalo, Mr. Catanzaro was a lifelong resident of Western New York.

His love of baseball was a constant – leading to a coaching career for various municipal teams, Little League, travel leagues and church leagues.

“His passion for baseball was in-born in him,” said his wife, the former Patricia Dahl. She said her father-in-law, Joseph Catanzaro, who had been a scout for the Kansas City Athletics and later with the New York Mets, inspired him.

Michael Catanzaro coached baseball at St. Francis High School for about 10 years, leading the team to a Georgetown Cup championship in 2007. He also was a MUNY baseball coach for about 20 years.

A graduate of Bishop Timon High School, Mr. Catanzaro later entered the Army, serving from 1954 to 1956. He lived in the Cheektowaga area before he moved to Elma several years ago.

Mr. Catanzaro was a union floor layer and at one time was a partner of the now-closed Florcraft in Cheektowaga. helped install the first Astroturf at Rich Stadium, did flooring work at the downtown AM&A’s store, and some Tops groceries. Health problems forced him to retire early several years ago.

He was a member of the parish council of the former St. Barnabas Church in Cheektowaga, before becoming active at St. Vincent De Paul Church in Springbrook.

Survivors, besides his wife of 57 years, include include a daughter, Nancy J. Zatko; three sons, Michael, Gary and William; a sister, JoAnne Gill; two brothers, Louis and Joseph; and five grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Vincent De Paul Church, Rice Road and Seneca Street, Springbrook.