by Scott Kindberg
April 23, 2022
Alone at No. 1
The initial postgame celebration after Dunkirk’s Chautauqua-Cattraugus Athletic Association Division 1 baseball win over Falconer on Friday afternoon was muted.
Make that very muted.
But after Frank Jagoda received some congratulatory hugs and handshakes in the infield grass, his players — suddenly becoming more than a little rambunctious — pulled out cans of Party Streamer Spray and proceeded to cover their coach in multi-colored strings.
Jagoda was so layered in pink, lime green and powder blue, in fact, that it was impossible to see the maroon Marauders’ helmet that sat atop his head or his ear-to-ear grin.
Somewhere, the late Al Stuhlmiller, was smiling, too.
Because not only did Dunkirk shut out the Golden Falcons 18-0 in 4 1/2 innings at the field that bears his name, but his former star player from more than 40 years ago — Jagoda — broke the Chautauqua Sports Hall-of-Famer’s career wins mark.
The record book now reads: Jagoda 361, Stuhlmiller 360.
“He certainly is a legend, he’s the man,” said Jagoda of Stuhlmiller, who coached from 1955 to 1983. “He’s Dunkirk baseball. I just followed suit with him and did the best I could to make him proud of me. I’ve had a couple messages from the Stuhlmiller family, who have really been encouraging to me. … I just know he’d be very proud of me, and they reiterated that. I appreciate what they’ve done and they’ve supported me.”
For the record, the Marauders batted around in three of the four innings last evening, capped by a seven-run fourth, to breeze to the victory and even their division record at 1-1. Falconer fell to 0-3.
Leading the way for Dunkirk was Tyler Karin (two hits, three RBIs, three two runs scored); winning pitcher Jack Lanski (two RBI doubles and two runs scored); and Nick Zatorski (two hits, two RBIs and three runs scored).
But, in reality, the game on a very cool, late April evening was truly about Jagoda, who is in his 28th year coaching at his alma mater with no signs of slowing down.
“When I was in eighth grade, Bill Walters took me under his wing and got me into the jayvee program, and then (Stuhlmiller) just taught you discipline, dedication to the sport and intestinal fortitude. He could get the best out of any player and I always appreciated that out of him.
“He was hard-nosed guy, but he meant well and he always wanted to win. He gave me that desire constantly in my life.”
In addition to the current team, family members, former players, ex-teammates and former Fredonia baseball coach and friend Vinny Gullo were in attendance to honor the 1979 Dunkirk graduate. And once Jagoda was finally able to remove the Party Streamer Spray from his head and face, he received a congratulatory plaque from assistant Eric Gloss to honor the new record and a maroon T-shirt that read: “Marauder Baseball, Winningest Coach.”
“I don’t want to say I predetermined these wins, but I do have baseballs (in the dugout),” Jagoda told the gathering. “One has a 3 on it, one has a 6 on it and one has a 1 on it. If you’ve played for Dunkirk baseball or you’ve played for me, I’d appreciate it if you’d come over, say hi to me, give me a handshake, sign a ball and put the year you graduated on it.”
That seemed appropriate.
After all, it was a signature moment in the North County, for sure.
NOTES: Falconer finished with one hit, a first-inning double by Jackson Roth. The Golden Falcons, in fact, had runners at second and third with one out in that frame, but couldn’t score. After that, it was all Dunkirk.