The Post-Journal

Superstitions Have Worked For Falconer Baseball Coachs

FALCONER – When it comes to baseball, one would say Falconer Central School baseball coach Denny Meszaros literally leaves no stones unturned.

Or pennies. Or any other precious little something he finds in the third-base coaching box or dugout.

“Being a baseball coach, I’m very superstitious,” admitted Meszaros, who deposits the “gems” in his jacket pocket and keeps them there for good luck.

Needless to say, Meszaros has been blessed with a combination of good luck and good players the last 24 years.

“It’s not me,” he said. “I never won a game. It’s the kids.”

Tuesday afternoon, Meszaros reached a milestone as he recorded his 300th victory in a career that began in 1966.

Trailing 6-5, the Golden Falcons scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, highlighted by Derek Abbey’s RBI single with two outs.

After Thursday’s 4-3 victory over Frewsburg – thanks to another two-run rally in the seventh – Falconer stands at 7-1.

“I had our No. 1 pitcher back, Kevin Davenport, and three infielders (Abbey, Billy Race and Steve Mosier) and probably one of the best catchers I’ve ever had in Bobby Schrader. Returning five key positions, I thought we’d do well, but you know how things turn in baseball.”

Take, for instance, the game in the mid-70s when Falconer was matched against Dunkirk. The Marauders had a pitcher who, according to Meszaros, “threw BBs” and had a no-hitter through seven innings. But with the score tied 0-0 in the eighth, the Dunkirk pitcher walked a Falconer batter. Meszaros, seizing the opportunity, called for back-to-back sacrifice bunts, followed by a successful steal of home. The Golden Falcons won the game 1-0.

“We had no right to win that game,” Meszaros said.

But you know how things turn in baseball.

Then there was the game Craig Paterniti pitched in 1970 against Allegany in the Section 6 semi-finals. Other than two come-backers to the mound by the leadoff hitter, the Blue Devils never put a ball in play as Paterniti struck out 19.

“He was definitely the best pitcher I ever had,” Meszaros said.

Falconer went on to win the sectional title that year, a feat it repeated in 1975, 1981 and 1989. The Golden Falcons lost the title game in 1976, 1986, 1987 and 1988.

Not a bad track record. Of course, success on the diamond has been expected at Falconer.

“I can’t really tell you the last time we weren’t in the playoffs,” Meszaros said. “The last time Falconer had a losing record was in 1974.”

The Golden Falcons have been particularly tough since 1984, the year Meszaros won his 200th game. In five-plus seasons since then, they’ve averaged about 16 wins per year. And we’re not talking about “Murderer’s Row” here.

“What we’re looking for is quick bats,” he said. “We’re single-double hitters. We scrap.’

Kind of like their coach.

Meszaros, whose high school didn’t have a baseball team, went on to play at California State (Pa.) where he pitched with former major leaguer Bruce Del Canton. He played semi-pro baseball in the Pittsburgh area and later played in the County Grape Belt League after he took the teaching position in Falconer.

One summer, Meszaros worked in Pittsburgh, but would try to make as many weekend County Grape Belt games as he could. “I’d leave in the morning, drive up to play and then drive back,” he said.

Playing in about half the games that summer, Meszaros batted a whopping .700 and drew the interest of Detroit Tigers scouts.

But, at 23, he was considered too “old” and Meszaros focused his attention on coaching. More than two decades and 300 wins later, it turned out to be the right decision.

Superstitions and all.

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.