The Post-Journal

Frankly Speaking

The baseball echoes drift east from far west Arizona Western College, where Joe Mistretta, one-time "Mr. Do Everything" for Falconer's baseball team, is up to his old tricks, like playing a whale of a second base and batting in the neighborhood of .400. Joe appeared to be a baseball phenomenon ever since his father started grooming him as a little tike. Falconer coaches saw greatness in Joe Mistretta and many followers predicted he would sign with the pros when his high school days were over. Not Joe, though. He told a P-J reporter he was going to college and finish his education first.

Joe Mistretta
Joe Mistretta. Ex-Falconer star going big in Arizona.

Sports Writer Ken Ryan tells an amusing incident about Joe's arrival at Arizona Western: "It was Aug. 26, 1977 - and about a zillion degrees outside when the plane landed. As passengers departed, the coaches noticed a young man wearing dark glasses and a jacket. They broke up laughing. It was Joe Mistretta, the pride of Falconer, N.Y. (population about 10,000).

"AWC head coach Joe Killeen, who was there to greet the Matadors' new acquisition, laughed later when he recalled the scene. "I thought surely this isn't him," he related. "He got very sick from the heat the first few days and nearly went home. He was homesick and I think he missed the greenery and cool weather."

But Joe wasn't about to call it quits. "The first day I got there," he relates, "I was wearing dark glasses and the person sitting in my dormitory said, 'hey, you look like Woody Allen.'" The name stuck. During the summer months Joe was really on the go, playing in three leagues. "Sometime I would play two games in one day at different places," he told Ryan. Mistretta shrugs off his achievements. He merely calls it part of his job. Most young ball players grow up idolizing a particular player. Ryan writes Joe's favorite is the late Roberto Clemente, who spoke in Jamestown a few months before he was killed in a plane crash.

Mistretta expects to get a scholarship offer from Georgia Southern, quite a baseball power, when his school year at Arizona Western is finished. Of course, his having just been named for the AWC most valuable player award for last season, isn't going to hurt his chance with the larger school. Joe's parents are Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Mistretta, 132 East James St., Falconer.


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