The Buffalo News

Tiny Frewsburg becomes state baseball Goliath

Finding Frewsburg has become a lot simpler since its high school baseball program put the town on the map.

Three New York State titles, four Section VI crowns, and three CCAC Division II championships have made Frewsburg the state’s baseball capital in Class D

Frewsburg is best known as the hometown of former Buffalo Bills linebacker Shane Conlan and former U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert H. Jackson.

The Chautauqua County farming community is seven miles southeast of Jamestown and has a population of 1,900. The sights downtown include The Dinner Bell restaurant, a six-lane bowling alley, and the popular American Legion Hall (Post 556).

With no stop lights in the village, it doesn’t take long to drive through Frewsburg. That’s just as well for opposing baseball teams, which like to make a quick exit after playing the Bears.

Coach Bob Schmitt has directed traffic at Frewsburg since 1991. His record is 110-42, including 21-2 in the playoffs. The state championships were captured in 1991, 1995, and 1996.

Schmitt said many athletes benefit from playing interscholastic sports year-round. And if holes pop up in his lineup, there always seems to be a young player who steps up.

“Traditionally, we’ve been a strong baseball school,” Schmitt said. “We took a survey and almost 70 percent of the kids who go to our school are involved in at least one sport. Our kids play so much ball, they’re ready earlier.”

Community support is strong. Schmitt said two members of the rock group 10,000 Maniacs live in Frewsburg, and they’ve made a donation to the athletic program to pay, in part, for a new press box for the baseball stadium.

Besides being the team to beat, Frewsburg also faces the additional challenge of moving up to Class C.

The Bears return seven starters from last year’s 24-5 team. In the state playoffs, Frewsburg beat Rensselaer, 4-3, in the semifinals and Pawling, 1-0, in the final.

The team is led by right-hander Mike Sheesley, who earned state tournament MVP honors after pitching a no-hitter against Pawling.

Last year’s leading hitter, Seth Johnson (.442), returns to play shortstop and the outfield. Two-time CCAC II all-star Adam Beckerink again will bat leadoff and play infield. Academically, Beckerink is ranked No. 1 in his senior class of 65.

Senior Chris Gray, a football and wrestling standout, has started at catcher since 8th grade. Barring injury, he will end his baseball career having played more than 150 games. He was an All-Western New York honorable mention pick last year.

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.