‘Dedicated service’: Dunkirk honors Jagoda with monument

Frank Jagoda, center, poses with his sons Joe and Frank.
Photos courtesy of Dunkirk Sports Boosters Club Frank Jagoda, center, poses with his sons Joe Jagoda, left, and Frank Jagoda III, right.

Plaque at at Dunkirk High School baseball field.

The baseball diamond at Dunkirk High School would not look the same without Frank Jagoda. Now the field he has called home has the hardware to prove it.

In front of an audience of friends and family members, along with current and former players in attendance, the Dunkirk Sports Boosters Club honored Jagoda with a custom monument to commemorate his coaching career.

Even though it literally rained on the parade of speakers to honor Jagoda, the occasion was still a welcomed honor for the deserving Marauders coach for the past 29 years. A member of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, Jagoda has been at the helm of the Dunkirk program since 1994 and has recorded nearly 400 wins. He also played baseball as a team captain before his graduation in the Dunkirk Class of 1979.

“His passion for this school and baseball program has no equal,” said Brian Crawford, a graduate of Dunkirk High School’s Class of 1994.

Crawford, now a Dunkirk Physical Education teacher, was a senior on Jagoda’s team during his first year as head coach. He later went on to play college baseball for two different schools, received his college degree, and then coached alongside Jagoda on two separate occasions.

“I am in debt to him and this program,” Crawford said. “… and I am proud to call him a coach and a friend.”

Another former assistant coach, Mario Muscarella, spoke to the impact Jagoda had on his career.

“Coach Jagoda has been a special part of my life. We coached together for 11 years and have remained close friends ever since. His passion and dedication to both Dunkirk and baseball are unmatched,” Muscarella said. “I learned so much about this special game from the best ‘in game coach’ I have ever been around that I still incorporate in my coaching to this very day.”

Muscarella was appointed as Fredonia junior varsity baseball coach this past season. He also coached the Fredonia 10-12 Little League All-Stars to a District 38 non-sanctioned championship this past summer.

“As impressive as his near 400 wins are, it’s the lives that he has changed that are more important,” Muscarella said of Jagoda. “Not just the athletes, but the people he surrounds himself with are all better off because of him. I thank him and congratulate him on all of his accomplishments. Hard work and dedication always wins.”

Also speaking to honor Jagoda included Clarence “Bam Bam” Jessie, Class of 1995; Tim Weaver, Class of 1996; Jared Porpiglia, Class of 2002; Mike Cole, Class of 2005; Zach Fitzer, Class of 2008; Nathan Pakulski, Class of 2022; and brothers Chris Messina, Class of 2010 and Phil Messina, Class of 2021.

According to the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, Jagoda has mentored 10 All-WNY players, sent 45 players to college baseball, and had four players advance to play professional baseball.

Assisting the Dunkirk Sports Boosters in making the dedication special included Robert Calph and Joey Aguglia; The Home Depot; WNY PTECH Academy and Steven Zentz; Greener Gardens and Jill Jaquith; the Kosciuszko Polish Home; the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club; and S. St. George Enterprises.

“I appreciate you and all of your support since Day One. I am honored to have had you as a coach and now as a mentor,” Phil Messina said.

“Thank you for everything you did for me and for the rest of the Messina family,” said Chris Messina, who is now a strength and conditioning coach in the Boston Red Sox organization.

The respect for Jagoda is not a one-way street, as Dunkirk’s leading man has always made an effort to celebrate the accomplishments of his peers. After Fredonia head coach Vince Gullo recorded his 300th win, Jagoda publicly recognized him in front of the Dunkirk crowd as the teams met for a rivalry contest. Jagoda also was in attendance when Silver Creek head coach Mike Janisch recorded his 500th career win earlier this year. Jagoda highlighted Janisch during a non-league game against City Honors earlier this season.

In each instance, Jagoda celebrated his peers without any prior notice, never looking to be in the spotlight. After a photo of Jagoda with Janisch, Gullo, and Mike Cummings was taken to celebrate Janisch’s 500th win, Jagoda later joked, “I didn’t think it was going to be in the paper.”

But now, much more than a picture in the paper will commemorate Jagoda’s contributions to the sport of baseball in Western New York. For years to come, fans will read a plaque located behind the backstop of home plate that says, “With over 30 years of dedicated service and countless lives impacted. Your love, support, passion, and dedication to your community is second to none.”

And just as the plaque says, Jagoda is Dunkirk’s prime example of “a Marauder through and through.

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We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.