The Post-Journal

Sam Marra Delivers For Meszaros

Sam Marra, right, receives a congratulatory handshake from Falconer baseball coach Denny Meszaros
In this June 12, 2000 file photo, Sam Marra, right, receives a congratulatory handshake from Falconer baseball coach Denny Meszaros during a rally to celebrate the Golden Falcons’ state championship. P-J file photo.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following column appeared in The Post-Journal on June 11, 2000, the day after the Falconer Central School baseball team won the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C championship at P&C Stadium in Syracuse. With the 20th anniversary of that title fast approaching, it was deemed appropriate to run the column again.

SYRACUSE — You know those fantasy baseball leagues that are all the rage now?

Well, if I could go back three months or so, get a bunch of my buddies together and convince them to conduct a draft of area high school players, I know what I’d do with the first pick. There’d be no hesitation.

None.

I’d take Sam Marra.

 Falconer Central School baseball team
The Falconer Central School baseball team sits on the front steps of the school during a rally two days after it won the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C championship. P-J file photo.

I’m not sure I would have said that a few weeks ago, but after watching the gritty catcher from Falconer do everything but shine the Golden Falcons’ spikes during their amazing playoff run, what’s not to love?

And, if I needed any convincing before this weekend, he ensured himself the top place on my draft board by delivering one of the most dramatic hits in the history of the state playoffs in the Class C title game Saturday at P&C Stadium. For it was his laser-like home run to left-center field with two outs in the top of the ninth inning that carried Falconer (23-7) to a 5-3 victory over Saratoga Catholic in the final game of Coach Denny Meszaros’ career.

As Marra circled the bases — he had done it just one other time all season — his teammates poured out of the dugout to greet their emotional leader.

“As soon as he hit it, I was jumping up and down,” senior Steve Ribbing said. “He crushed that thing. Sam always comes through.”

Hard to argue with that assessment, at least in the playoffs.

In fact, in Falconer’s six postseason games, Marra had 12 hits in 25 at-bats, always inserting himself in the middle of rallies when the Golden Falcons needed him most.

“If we get one little thing to go our way, the momentum switches back to us and everybody gets pumped up again,” Ribbing said.

So, when sophomore Roger Markham reached on an error and still stood at first with two outs in the ninth, nobody in a blue jersey doubted that Marra would make something happen.

Not even falling into a no-ball, two-strike count against Saratoga Catholic’s Jeb Towne.

“I think part of it is he’s so calm at the plate,” said senior Mike Smith, who had a single, double and triple in his final high school game, “He knows what he has to do and he gets the job done.”

Senior pitcher John Moore , who tossed a four-hitter, said it is Marra’s confidence that sets him apart.

“He’s confident all the time,” Moore said. “He’s never down and the team feeds off that.”

But as clutch as Marra’s been, nobody could have predicted him going yard.

“I saw it and gave it a ride,” he said. ” I thought it was a ‘gapper,’ but I touched it all and was home. Amazing.”

That it is.

Two months ago, this same Golden Falcons’ team was floundering, losing four of its first six games and wondering if it would even qualify for the Section VI playoffs. Then they took off for their well-publicized trip to Florida, found their batting eyes and returned north with renewed confidence.

Combine that with the desire to send their beloved Meszaros out in style, the Golden Falcons won their last 13 games, leaving their coach with a championship plaque in his hands, tears in his eyes and pride in his heart.

“I don’t know how you could write a story like this,” Ribbing said.

You probably couldn’t.

Still, another chapter was still being written long after Marra deposited the home run into the P&C bullpen.

Asked after the game if Marra, his unofficial captain, had said anything to him after his historic blast, Meszaros looked away ever so briefly so he could compose himself before responding.

“He said he did it for me,” Meszaros said.

Added Marra: “It means more, actually, than doing it for the team, because it’s (Meszaros’) last year. He’s helped us out and everybody in this program so much. He deserves it more than anyone.”

How’s that for a feel-good story while you’re enjoying your Sunday morning coffee?


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