The Post-Journal

Falconer Coach Has Been Calling Shots Since ‘69

The year was 1969 and a 24-year-old young man took over the Falconer varsity baseball program and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Denny Meszaros, who was jayvee coach the first two years, built up one of the most highly-regarded programs not only in Western New York, but in New York State as well.

The final chapter in this his 32nd, and final, year at the helm reached one of the goals on Wednesday night at Division 1 rival Gowanda when the Golden Falcons emerged with a 16-8 win, thus, giving Meszaros his 500th win.

Ironically, his 400th win was also at Gowanda in 1995 in another night game at Hillis Field.

“We started real slowly this year and were 2-4 at one time, but I am hoping we can have one of our best finishes,” said Meszaros, who has an overall record of 500-265.

The veteran coach ranks second on the all-time list in Western New York to Orchard Park’ coach Bob Barrows, who is over 600 wins and, like Meszaros, is retiring this spring. He is tied for fifth spot on the all-time state list with the leader being Ed Nietupski of Rochester Bishop Kearney with 705 wins.

Included in Meszaros’ record are 15 league titles, 10 Section 6 championships and three appearances in the state tournament, including two in the finals.

“I am relieved that we have gotten to 500 and we can hopefully win the sectionals and get back to the states and win it,” said Meszaros. “I have great support and all the parents of my players were in Gowanda.”

Over the course of his 30-plus years, Meszaros has had many outstanding players, including the late Craig Paterniti, Joe Mistretta, Kevin Martin and Mario Muscarella. “I have had so many good players and I just can’t say anybody was the best,” said Meszaros.

The first league and sectional title I won was in 1970 with Craig Paterniti,” said Meszaros.

Another statistic stands out: Since 1974, Meszaros has compiled the amazing feat of never having a team finish under .500.

One of the games that Meszaros remembers well was a 1-0 win over Dunkirk and Coach Al Stuhlmiller.

“We stole home after I bunted the runner to second and third,” said Meszaros. “Stuhlmiller was very angry because his pitcher lost a no-hitter.”

Of course, the person that has been the main supporter down through the years is his wife, Cindy, who has had to endure all kinds of weather to watch her husband coach and the Golden Falcons play.

One of the biggest disappointments for Meszaros was having his then top-ranked Class C team in the state lose to Maple Grove in the Section 6 semi-finals last year.

“We were 23-3 and I really believed we were going to win and go to the states and win, but Maple Grove rallied to beat us in the last inning,” said Meszaros.

Bill Race, the former highly-successful football coach and athletic coach at Falconer, was contacted about his long-time friendship with Meszaros.

“Both Denny and I came from the same lifestyle as we were from coal-mining areas with Denny from Western Pennsylvania,” said Race. We became friends right off the bat and our families became very close.

“This is a tremendous milestone that few coaches in any sport reach and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer gentleman and coach,” said Race.

“It would be nice if he could go out with a state championship,” said Race. “The game I remember was the semifinals in 1990 when my son Bill got the winning hit in extra innings against highly-regarded CBA of Syracuse.”

Around 10 p.m. that day, the Golden Falcons had to play in the championship and lost as they would do in 1992. In 1981, the first ever state tournament saw the Golden Falcons lose in the first round.

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