By PAUL GOTHAM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Dan Hoyt recalls the experience well.
Then a senior at Brockport High School, he reached first base when he was hit by a pitch. Greece Olympia’s Glen Dow followed with a line drive off the center field fence. Hoyt scored from first.
“He had the prom that night,” Hoyt said of Dow. “He bounced one off the centerfield wall and then had to exit. That’s a story I’ll always remember.”
That was 1986. The centerfield wall was located at 500 Norton Street, Rochester’s Silver Stadium. Hoyt and Dow were among the many on the rosters of the the first annual Monroe County Senior Exceptional Game.
“It was great,” said Hoyt, currently the head coach at Honeoye Falls-Lima. “I still remember like it was yesterday. It was just great to play with the guys that you battled against all year long. All of sudden they become your teammates and you get to know exactly who they are. It was really exciting to be a part of that.”
Now in its fifth decade, the Senior Exceptional Game has made the move with Rochester’s Red Wings from Silver Stadium to Morrie Silver Way and Frontier Field. The past two seasons, though, the game has existed in spirit only with coaches submitting names of players to receive the honor.
“It’s a culmination of the whole season,” Hoyt noted. “Being able to get to play and know somebody who you’ve competed against all year long. I think it’s really important. The love of baseball and everyone in there and all those kids and coaches have it. It’s one last time to put the uniform on and get a chance to go out and represent your school and play in an All-Star game. It’s being recognized by everyone and being honored. It’s for coaches and especially the players.”
Covid-19 wiped out the 2020 high school baseball season in New York State and with it the annual event. An abbreviated schedule along with continued precautions prevented the game from taking place again in 2021. That hasn’t stopped coaches and coordinators from acknowledging the accomplishments of seniors who have finished their high school careers.
“It’s a real pat on the back for any player to be asked to play,” Spencerport head coach Larry Frisa said. “It’s a vindication of hard work that a kid puts in from the time they enter T-ball and then come through modified and on to varsity.
“My favorite part of when I coach it, is seeing every group of kids and their teams. They all get together and they pose for pictures with their families. For some kids, it’s the last time they’re ever going to play organized baseball.”
Frisa and Hoyt are two of 10 current Monroe County League coaches who played in the game during their high school careers. Webster Schroeder’s Matt Knight earned a spot in the 1987 game while Jason Bunting, who recently retired after 25 years as the head coach of Greece Athena along with Kevin Neenan (Webster Thomas) and Sean Rucker (Victor) participated in the 1988 version.
Frisa, a Spencerport grad, played in the 1994 game. Rush-Henrietta’s Bill Rasmussen took part in the 1997 contest while Batavia’s James Patric earned a spot in 2000. Pittsford Sutherland’s Brandon DeRosa and Eastridge’s Chris Taylor participated in the ’06 event.
“I tell kids this story all the time,” Frisa said. “Back then you played for your school. You played for your summer teams, and you played American Legion. I didn’t know kids from other schools. I didn’t play for any travel teams.
“I remember sitting down during the game and thinking to myself ‘oh my God, if I was going to school with any one of these guys up and down the bench, they would probably be my best friend. They were ball players, just like me. It was an honor to play for my school. We played in Silver Stadium. It was a lot of fun.”
Founded by Wally Blatter in 1986 with the help of then Rush-Henrietta athletic director, the late Werner Kleemann, along with then Irondequoit baseball coach Ken Slater and former Rochester Red Wing John Valle, the event started as “Youth Baseball Week.” There was a free baseball clinic at Silver Stadium, two separate games – a City-Catholic League contest and Monroe County League contest were played. Each participant and his family received free admission to a Wings game. An Old Timers game was later added which included players who helped with the clinic.
Bunting and former Hilton head coach Ory Mee as well as current Monroe County League coordinator Jason Wasserman have all helped to guide the process through the years.
The game has featured several local players who now play professionally: Ernie Clement (Brighton), Tanner Cooper (Canandaigua), Greg Cullen (McQuaid), Steven Klimek (Greece Arcadia), Adam Scott (Canandaigua).
“I think it’s a very cool game to be able to recognize the talent in Rochester,” said Chicago White Sox infielder Danny Mendick who played in the Senior Exceptional game when he attended Pittsford Mendon High School. “Sometimes you don’t play a certain school and being able to meet or see the other talent out there is a cool way for this game to bring that.”
Hans Blatter has continued the tradition that his father started.
“My father did it as a way of giving back to the community,” Blatter said. “He really had a passion for baseball. He passed that passion on to me. It’s just a way for me to give back to the community for something that so many enjoy. It’s a chance to recognize the seniors that have worked so hard and maybe get a chance to play at Frontier Field.
“Frontier Field, more teams play on it now, but back in the day if you got a chance to play at a [professional] facility like Silver Stadium or Frontier Field, that was like Cap’n Crunch in the morning. That was gold. It was an opportunity to play where the big boys play.”
Through the years, one thing has remained a constant: the game is free for the players and no admission is charged at the gate. The Blatter family has paid the bill.
“You have this family that continues to support the kids who love baseball,” Frisa stated. “We get to play in Frontier Field. It doesn’t cost the kids anything. All the years we’ve done this, I’ve never heard one time of that family asking for any type of recognition. They just give, and it’s a really cool thing that they support the kids.”
“It’s unbelievable,” Hoyt said of the continued financial support. “The dedication and the commitment to further baseball and to further the kids’ opportunities to play, to have that opportunity was great. We owe it to them and very thankful for that.”
|2021 Senior Exceptional Game Roster|
|Channing Owens||Aquinas||Alfred State|
|Alex Hale||Batavia||Niagara County CC|
|Luke Rogers||Batavia||Onondaga CC|
|Will Cole||Brockport||Jefferson CC|
|Tyler Henshaw||Brockport||Potomac State|
|Devyn Scheidt||Brockport||Keuka College|
|Carlos Fantauzzi||Canandaigua||Onondaga CC|
|Braden Pawlicki||Canandaigua||Alfred State|
|Alan Michael LeFrois||Churchville-Chili||SUNY Brockport|
|Shane Pray||Churchville-Chili||Frostburg State|
|Frank Duarte||East High|
|Jerome English||East High|
|Israel Sullivan||East High|
|Keenan Calenzo||Eastridge||Finger Lakes CC|
|DJ Stoianovich||Fairport||Finger Lakes CC|
|Jeremiah Cortes||C.G. Finney|
|Gio D’Amico||C.G. Finney|
|Justice Smith||C.G. Finney|
|Devin Georgetti||Gates-Chili||Finger Lakes CC|
|Joe Kleeh||Greece Arcadia|
|Vic Alongi||Greece Athena||Genesee CC|
|Dylan Bliss||Greece Athena|
|Zachary Harnischfeger||Greece Athena|
|Zandyr Meakin||Greece Athena|
|Casey Saucke II||Greece Athena||U. of Virginia|
|Donovan Wallace||Greece Athena|
|Derek Laemlein||Greece Olympia/Odyssey|
|Brian Reinke||Honeoye Falls-Lima||U. of Richmond|
|Tyler Cerame||Hilton||Finger Lakes CC|
|Joe Wintermute||Irondequoit||Monroe CC|
|Jack Beauchamp||McQuaid||St. John Fisher|
|Joey Conroy||Northstar Christian|
|Paul Conroy||Northstar Christian|
|Ashton Dutton||Northstar Christian|
|Nick Ianniello||Penfield||SUNY Brockport|
|Jack Josephson||Penfield||Alfred State|
|Dom Porto||Penfield||Mount Saint Vincent|
|Gage Ziehl||Penfield||U. of Miami (FL)|
|Brady Miller||Pittsford Mendon|
|Tyler Procious||Pittsford Mendon|
|Keeghan Cummings||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Joe Groark||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Ethan Hurwitz||Pittsford Sutherland||Oberlin College|
|Will Klenk||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Scott McDonald||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Jackson Newlands||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Nick Provenzale||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Scotty Thyroff||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Seth Trojian||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Chris Sleeper||Rush-Henrietta||West Virginia U.|
|Devin Cannon||Spencerport||Finger Lakes CC|
|Ethan Behnke||Victor||Houghton College|
|Christian Brown||Victor||SUNY Fredonia|
|Danny Melendez||Victor||Monroe CC|
|Sal Cutaia||Webster Schroeder||Monroe CC|
|Zach Hosmer||Webster Schroeder||Genesee CC|
|Dom Ingram||Webster Schroeder||Monroe CC|
|Ryan Merkov||Webster Schroeder||RIT|
|Mathew Sanfilippo||Webster Schroeder||Niagara County CC|
|John Schoenhardt||Webster Schroeder||Monroe CC|
|Alex Simons||Webster Schroeder||Monroe CC|
|Alex Touloupas||Webster Schroeder||Monroe CC|
|Dominic Delvecchio||Webster Thomas|
|Joe DiNieri||Webster Thomas|
|Max Heil||Webster Thomas|
|Mitchell Kelly||Webster Thomas||SUNY Cortland|
|Evan McCoy||Webster Thomas|
|Greyson McDonnell||Webster Thomas||Onondaga CC|
|Bryan McLean||Webster Thomas|
|Ian McNabb||Webster Thomas||Monroe CC|
|Paul Sofinski||Webster Thomas||Monroe CC|
|Nick Wood||Webster Thomas|
|Damian Collazo||Wilson Magnet|
|2020 Senior Exceptional Game Roster|
|Jake Humes||Batavia||Onondaga CC|
|Tanner Frank||Brighton||Finger Lakes CC|
|Troy Leibert||Brockport||Niagara County CC|
|Nick Nealon||Brockport||Niagara County CC|
|Dylan Mackenzie||Canandaigua||SUNY Cortland|
|Zach Morse||Canandaigua||Alfred State|
|Sam Werth||Canandaigua||Alfred State|
|Josh Ferris||Churchville-Chili||Finger Lakes CC|
|Joe Puglia||Churchville-Chili||Mohawk Valley CC|
|Freddie Brock||East High|
|Sergio Gonzalez Estrada||East High|
|Ray Lopez||East High|
|Angel Silva||East High|
|Willito Silva||East High|
|Maurice Tindal||East High|
|Brady Booher||Eastridge||Keuka College|
|Elijah Barnard||Greece Arcadia|
|Gannon McNeal||Greece Arcadia|
|Spencer Phillips||Greece Arcadia|
|Jacob Cerone||Greece Athena|
|Ryan Coughlin||Greece Athena|
|Tyler Curtis||Greece Athena||Finger Lakes CC|
|Ryan Dineen||Greece Athena|
|Zach Geist||Greece Athena|
|Justin Kimble||Greece Athena|
|Jagger Nucci||Greece Athena||St. Bonaventure|
|Caleb Richardson||Greece Athena|
|Sam Sheldon||Greece Athena||Onondaga CC|
|Lucas Sulimowicz||Greece Athena||Finger Lakes CC|
|RJ Vignari||Greece Athena|
|Joe Alphonse||Greece Olympia/Odyssey|
|Korey Canton||Greece Olympia/Odyssey||SUNY Fredonia|
|Jonah Holloway||Greece Olympia/Odyssey|
|Mike Matteson||Greece Olympia/Odyssey|
|Hayden Smith||Honeoye Falls-Lima||Northeastern|
|Dylan Boprey||Hilton||Houghton College|
|Jason Story||Hilton||Utica College|
|Frankie Fernandes||Irondequoit||Monroe CC|
|Christian Blatter||McQuaid||Mercyhurst University|
|Kyle Hennessey||Pittsford Mendon|
|Karthik Mathew-Malik||Pittsford Mendon|
|Parker Chamot||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Garrett Glanton||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Jake Ketchum||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Tate Pierson||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Anthony Puma||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Ben Ranney||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Donny Varrenti||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Torin Wilcox||Pittsford Sutherland|
|Cliff Genge||Rush-Henrietta||Niagara County CC|
|Trevor Gineau||Rush-Henrietta||Monroe CC|
|Patrick Sherron||Rush-Henrietta||Monroe CC|
|Bobby Sellers||Rush-Henrietta||Alfred State|
|Daniel Tirabassi||Rush-Henrietta||U. of Rochester|
|Joe Cuddy||Spencerport||Wells College|
|Kenny Murphy||Webster Schroeder||Finger Lakes CC|
|Joe Thompson||Webster Schroeder||Alfred State|
|Jack VonAhnen||Webster Schroeder||SUNY Brockport|
|Grant Hutchins||Webster Thomas|
|Aidan Thomas||Webster Thomas|
|Jake Veniskey||Webster Thomas|
|Tommy Wygal||Webster Thomas|
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