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June 9, 2019 - 8:00am
posted by Billie Owens in baseball, batavia, sports, news.

Photo circa 1958. That’s Dave Reilly sliding and his infamous pal Charlie making the "safe" sign.

Submitted photos and story by Dave Reilly.

This year Batavia will be celebrating 80 years of baseball. Through the names Clippers, Indians, Pirates, Trojans, back to Clippers, and since 1998 the Muckdogs, the local team has provided adults and kids with a source of entertainment during the summer.

It also indirectly affected me ending up in the back of a police car about 60 years ago.

In the late '50s and '60s when I was about 10 to 15 years old (before girls), baseball was king with my friends and me.

In the daytime in the summer we would constantly be on our bikes with our bats and mitts riding all over looking for a place to play ball. One of our favorite places was the Little League park on State Street, which was deserted during the day and another field right by MacArthur Stadium where the Indians (as they were called from '57-'59) played.

We had a group of our guys and there was another ”gang” who lived in the stadium area who we would play for bragging rights.

As long as we were near the Indians' field we would go there when the team was at home and see if we could talk to, get autographs from, or maybe even score a broken bat from our heroes. The “heroes” were in reality 21- or 22-year-olds who had slim chances of getting to the majors, but they were still gods to us.

In 1957 the star was Ken Kraynak, who led the league in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in and thus won the Triple Crown trophy. We had an in with him, too, because for the summer he was dating my buddy Charlie's older sister.

In 1959 the “man” was Al Luplow, who went on to spend nine years in the major leagues. Once again, Charlie stood out but this time for the wrong reason.

Luplow was there in the clubhouse the afternoon Charlie mouthed off to some kid and got his arm broken. Al tried to comfort my friend who was screaming in pain until the ambulance got there. At least Charlie got his cast autographed by most of the players, but he never did learn to keep his yap shut.

When we were younger, 10 to 12 years old, we might have been allowed to walk to the game, but one of our parents would usually pick us up afterward.

Batavia Baseball Bargain -- the 'Knothole Pass'

Also, we would most likely sit in the grandstand section and watch the whole game. We were there for the baseball.

Back then, they had a season ticket for kids called a “Knothole Pass.” It cost one dollar and was good for almost every game. We sure got our money's worth out of that.

I guess the team figured they would make up the money by us kids buying the proverbial peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jacks. I rarely had any money though, so they lost out on me. Also, I hated Cracker Jacks and still do.

In 1960 Batavia did not field a team due to financial problems. I'm not sure what we did with our summer nights that season, but it probably involved whining at our parents that, “There's nothing to do in this one-horse town.”

However, in 1961 the team returned as the Pirates and we returned as teenagers and some of the shenanigans that come with that wonderful age came with us.

Our parents didn't know it (do they ever?), but now we were likely to spend more time fooling around outside the stadium than in it. Also, we would more apt to be in a group of guys and the monster of peer pressure was lurking around to rear its ugly head.

One of our obsessions was trying to get a foul or home run ball that was hit out of the stadium.

But, in those days, minor league teams had no money to keep replacing expensive baseballs. So, they hired a few teenagers to go get the balls and return them to be used again.

Now, I'm not saying that the team intentionally hired mean bullies for that job, but it sure seemed that way to us younger kids. 

The teenagers were faster than us and mostly got to the balls before we could. But, on the few occasions when we actually snagged a foul or homer before them, let's just say that they didn't ask in a polite way to get it back.

We'd usually submit pretty easily, but if not we might go home with dirt on our clothes or a bruise somewhere. I do not recall ever getting to keep one of those baseballs.

Around that time, like many young teens, we began to get daring and try to smoke cigarettes. Of course, even though many of our parents smoked, we'd be in big trouble if they caught us doing it: "Do as I say, not as I do."

Acts of Derring-do

So, we couldn't smoke inside at the game because someone might see us and tell mom and dad. In fact, one time in elementary school I had a candy cigarette (there's a great product for kids) in my mouth outside and by the time I got home, my mom had gotten a call that I had been smoking!

So, if we wanted to sneak a cigarette we'd have to hide outside somewhere. One night, this is what got us into a bunch of trouble.

Behind the center field fence of MacArthur( now Dwyer) Stadium was a stone structure everyone called the Civil Air Patrol Building.

Apparently, during World War II, volunteers used be stationed there with binoculars to keep an eye out for German bombers who wanted to take out the Doehler-Jarvis Tool and Die factory or some other Batavia target.

By 1961 it was pretty much deserted except for men's and ladie's restrooms, which were kept open for people in the park area. 

(Author's Note: I was surprised on a recent visit to Batavia to find the old building still standing, albeit in ragged shape and marred by graffiti.)

My friends Charlie (yup, him again), Jay, Mike, and I were in the vicinity of the Civil Air Patrol Building during a Pirates' game. We were most likely once again on a futile mission to get a home run or foul ball.

At some point we went into the men's room to sneak a smoke. We were such chickens to get caught that we even shut the door. But, since the building was really not in use, there were no lights and this is where someone, maybe me, came up with a completely idiotic idea.

Enter Excelsior

In another open but unused room there were some old, cushioned chairs. They had either fallen apart or been vandalized so the stuffing of the cushions was hanging out.

We must have had a good vocabulary because we knew this straw filling was called "excelsior," a word that becomes important in this tale later on.

We took some handfuls of the excelsior back to the men's room, lit it on fire for light, shut the door, and commenced to fire up our Winstons or whatever brand we had. 

With no ventilation, within seconds the room filled with dense acrid smoke.

Not wanting to suffocate we had no choice but to throw open the door and exit posthaste while choking and coughing. As we regained our breath the gagging turned to laughter at ourselves as we realized how dumb we had been.

This hilarity did not last long.

We went back inside to stomp out the now smoldering straw, but didn't realize that the plumes had been seen by people inside the stadium at the game.

As we exited again, we looked up to see a Batavia City Police car speeding across the grass toward us. It turned out that a Batavia policeman (who shall remain nameless) had stopped at the game on his patrol and had seen the smoke, too.

What would you do if you were 13 or 14 and saw a police car coming after you? Of course -- RUN!

I'm not sure where the other guys bolted to, but I took off for a huge junkyard nearby. I spotted a rusted out delivery truck and hid inside.

I cowered there trembling like a kitten in a dog kennel. After a few minutes I got up the courage to peek out. There stood the cop with an annoyed look on his face.

“C'mon kid,” he said, “and don't even try running again. Your buddies are in my car already.”

Busted, I hangdoggedly trudged to the cruiser.

Meanwhile, Back at the Police Station...

As we sat in the police car sweating, we asked the officer what was he going to do with us?

“You're going to the station and the desk sergeant can decide how to deal with you,” he replied. “You know you could be charged with arson for setting that straw on fire.”

Then big mistake number two happened.

Someone, and it definitely wasn't me it was Charlie who said, 'It's not straw, it's excelsior.”

“Seltzer?”, the cop asked? “What the heck are you talking about? I know straw when I see it, and I'd advise you to shut up before you get in more trouble than you're already in.”

Charlie eventually became a lawyer, but in this instance he was ruled out of order.

Upon our arrival at the station on School Street, mistake number three occurred. As I exited the police car I tried to throw my pack of smokes underneath it.

They clunked off the side of the car and fell on the street just as the officer turned around.

“Nice try kid,” he snorted as he picked them up. 

Once inside, the desk sergeant saw us being herded in and asked the cop, “What were these guys up to?”

“I was at the baseball game and saw smoke coming out of the Civil Air Patrol Building," he reported. “I drove out there and these kids had been in there smoking cigarettes and set a bunch of straw on fire. They ran, but I got 'em,” he announced proudly.

“What have you guys got to say for yourselves?”, the sergeant asked.

Remember, Charlie couldn't keep his yap shut. With aplomb, he unbelievably inserted his foot into his mouth yet again: “Well sir, we were smoking but it was just a little fire. And it wasn't straw, it was excelsior.”

Wow. Fresh blood might be redder than the first cop's face, but that's doubtful.

Perp Walk for Rare Company

Mercifully, we did not get charged with arson. Our parents were called and had to come pick us up.

My parents almost never had company, but on this night a group of people were at our house and I had to do the perp walk through them to my parents' embarrassment.

For the next month my mother had me scrubbing walls, pulling weeds, and generally working from morning until night.

And Charlie's fate? His parents promptly enrolled him in military school in Syracuse instead of returning to Notre Dame.

It was questionable as punishment though; he went on to become a Captain and got to carry a sword around. It also served to add to his already big ego.

All of us had to go with our parents to see the Batavia Police Youth Officer Lewis Snell.

I'm not sure what admonitions he gave or what advice he might have given for our future, but it must have worked on some level because that turned out to be my last time in the back of a police car.

Unless I really go off my old guy wheels, I'm pretty sure things will remain that way, too.

Below, Batavia's minor league baseball field as it was when Dave Reilly was a boy, circa 1958.

Below, the old Civil Air Patrol Building as it stands today; the site of the excelsior escapade.

June 8, 2019 - 10:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in ptsd clinic, batavia, VA, news.


Five former residents of the Batavia PTSD Clinic who died within the past year were honored and remembered Friday in a ceremony that including reading their names (their names will be added to bricks in a path to the memorial flag pole) and laying a wreath in their honor.

The five veterans honored were:

  • Daniel R. Criswell, Army
  • Thomas R. Kintner, Marine Corps
  • Haley M. Messer, Army
  • Matthew J. Rizzo, Army
  • Matthew M. Shaw, Army




June 8, 2019 - 2:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, notify, batavia.

Kevin Waleski, 31, an inmate in the Genesee County Jail, is charged with second-degree criminal mischief, a Class D felony. He is accused of damaging the jail inmate phone system on April 23. It is alleged that on that date he plugged the toilet in this holding cell, causing a flood. The water ended up in the basement of the jail and shorted out the phone system electronics, according to Genesee County Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. He was arraigned on the charge June 3 and jailed without bail.

Jessica Nicole Weiss, 28, of Main Street Road, Batavia, is charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Following a child endangerment complaint at a local motel at 4:20 p.m. on June 5, Weiss was arrested on the charges. She allegedly left her young children alone in their residence for a period of time. Weiss was issued an appearance ticket and taken to jail for prints and photos. She is due in Town of Batavia Court on July 1. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Kyle Krzemien.

June 8, 2019 - 10:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in video, public market, downtown, batavia.
Video Sponsor

The Batavia Downtown Public Market opened Friday at Alva Place and Bank Street.

June 8, 2019 - 12:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, Fill the Boot, batavia, video, IAFF Local 896.
Video Sponsor

Members of Batavia City Fire, IAFF Local 896, were at locations on Main Street and Ellicott Street in Downtown Batavia today for their annual Fill the Boot campaign to raise money for MDA.

This year, they raised more than $11,000 from thousands of small donations by residents passing by the firefighters with boots.

June 7, 2019 - 6:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, notify, batavia, veterans, Medal of Honor.


When President Donald Trump drapes the Medal of Honor -- our nation's highest honor -- around David Bellavia on June 25, the Batavia resident will become the lone living veteran of the Iraq War to receive the honor.

Bellavia, who co-hosts a news talk show on WBEN, wasn't available for comment today. 

Bellavia is already a Silver Star recipient for his single-handed battle against a nest of insurgents during the Second Battle of Fallujah. 

He's also received the Bronze Star, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross.

The Batavian will cover the press conference in Buffalo next week and the award ceremony at the White House on June 25 at the invitation of Bellavia.

Photo: File photo from 2011 when Bellavia announced his first congressional campaign.

June 7, 2019 - 5:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, news, batavia, Le Roy, GCEDC.

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) approved incentives for a 6,000-square-foot warehouse project at 52 Cedar St. in the City of Batavia at its June 6 board meeting.  

Cedar Street Sales & Rentals (Mucher & Clark LLC) will receive approximately $37,000 sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions to support the $165,000 project.

The project will generate revenues of about 28,000 into the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity (BP2) fund over 10 years. The project supports 10 existing jobs and 1.5 new positions.

The GCEDC board also approved the acceptance of an application from W&M Humphrey Associates LP for a $3.1 million expansion for facilities on Munson Street in the village of Le Roy, which are leased to the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP).

W&M Humphrey Associates is seeking incentives of approximately $465,000 in property, sales and mortgage tax exemptions.

The 11,000-square-foot project includes the addition of flexible conference rooms, training areas, offices and support spaces, and is estimated to add 2.5 full-time equivalent positions to the 525 supported by GVEP.

“The BP2 program is an important collaboration between various entities, including the City of Batavia, Batavia City Schools, and Genesee County to enhance economic development opportunities in Batavia,” said GCEDC Board Chair Paul Battaglia.

June 7, 2019 - 2:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, scanner, crime.

An altercation is reported at MacArthur Drive and State Street in the city. Batavia High School security personnel are said to be on their way over their. Batavia police are dispatched.

UPDATE 2:55 p.m.: The person accused of instigating the fight is a 15-year-old male and police are out with him now.

June 6, 2019 - 5:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.

Press release:

In response to the senseless criminal actions over the past weekend, the City offers its condolences to victims, thanks those who responded, and commits to decisive action.

“The City shares in the grief felt by the families and friends of the victims, acknowledges the selfless acts by our citizens, appreciates the tireless work of Batavia’s finest, and thanks those who aided in the quick identity and arrest of criminal suspects this past weekend. Out of respect for those who gave their lives, and work so tirelessly, we commit to decisive action that will aid community crime prevention,” said Martin Moore, City of Batavia manager.

“The City will implement effective ideas, expand on successful neighborhood actions, and continue ongoing efforts to promote and ensure the safety of our community. We will continue to work cooperatively with community leaders, law enforcement, criminal justice officials, media representatives, neighborhood groups and business leaders to target criminals,” said Moore.

“Criminal violence and the loss of life is never acceptable and my sincere condolences go out to all those in the community that were impacted. It was encouraging to see people come forward and help the police quickly apprehend those believed to be responsible. To prevent violent acts in the future we must stay involved. If you see suspicious activity please report it to the police so that they can intervene and possibly prevent a serious crime from occurring. Over the next few weeks, City Council will be reviewing ways to assist our first responders and strengthen our public safety. Together we can make a difference,” said Eugene Jankowski Jr. City of Batavia of council president.

“The City of Batavia Police Department would like to thank the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Genesee County Dispatch Center, New York State Police, Genesee County Local Drug Task Force, City of Rochester Police Department, City of Batavia Fire Department, Mercy EMS, the Staff in the ER at UMMC and Police Chaplain Don Shirk for the assistance over this past weekend with the major crimes that took place in the City of Batavia. Because of the support received, the Police Department as able to quickly identify and arrest both parties responsible for these senseless crimes,” said Shawn Heubusch, City of Batavia police chief.

“The City extends its gratitude to witnesses that helped us to locate, identify and subsequently arrest both individuals involved in last weekend crime. With witness accounts, our job is much easier and we are heartened to see the public’s cooperation and willingness to get involved when a crime like this occurs in their neighborhood,” said Chief Heubusch.

“The Fire Department appreciates the opportunity to partner with City Police and assist in a support capacity. We were pleased to share specialized equipment and department personnel to aid in the investigative process, and acknowledge the outstanding work of the City of Batavia Police Department during these (last weekend’s) unfortunate events,” said Stefano Napolitano, City of Batavia Fire Chief.

Ongoing community safety is the first priority of the City of Batavia. All of the City’s departments are committed to keeping our City a healthy, violence-free place where our families can live, work and enjoy our City.

June 6, 2019 - 5:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, video, track and field.
Video Sponsor

Every year, fourth-graders in Batavia get to try track and field to see if it's a sport they might enjoy. This year, because of the new stadium being built at Van Detta/Woodward Field, the track and field day was held at Oakfield-Alabama High School.

June 6, 2019 - 2:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, batavia, bureau of maintenance.

From the city's Bureau of Maintenance:

  • Residents & Property Owners of Clinton Park, Fordham Drive, Eugene Street and Holmes Avenue -- Resurfacing

 Clinton Park, Fordham Drive, Eugene Street and Holmes Avenue will have road closures to all through traffic on Tuesday, June 11 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the installation of an intermediate reinforced pavement layer.

On Thursday, June 13 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. these streets will be closed to all through traffic for the installation of the wearing surface layer.

Residents of Clinton Park, Fordham Drive, Eugene Street and Holmes Avenue will be able to access their properties but may experience delays as paving operations progress up and down the streets.

All residents within the work area are asked not to park on the roadway during the day.

This is weather dependent work. If work is postponed it shall progress next work day. Please, plan accordingly and contact the Bureau of Maintenance with any questions. Thank you for your cooperation in advance.

  • Residents & Property Owners of Naramore Drive – Resurfacing

Naramore Drive will have road closure to all through traffic on Monday, June 10 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the installation of an intermediate reinforced pavement layer.

On Wednesday, June 12 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Naramore Drive will be closed to all through traffic for the installation of the wearing surface layer.

Residents of Naramore Drive will be able to access their properties but may experience delays as paving operations progress up and down the street.

All residents within the work area are asked not to park on the roadway during the day. This is weather dependent work. If work is postponed it shall progress next work day. Please, plan accordingly and contact the Bureau of Maintenance with any questions. Thank you for your cooperation in advance.

June 6, 2019 - 1:07pm

Photo and information from the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation.

Anthony (Tony) Palmer is this year's Italian-American honoree selected by the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation.

He will be feted at the foundation's Annual Scholarship Dinner at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12th, at Terry Hills Restaurant in Batavia.

One of eight student scholarship candidates will also be chosen.

The family of Vincent Gautieri, also offers a scholarship for members of the Foundation, from Genesee County and outside the County.

Tickets for the dinner are $30 and available from Foundation board members, Ben's Appliances, Kitchens and Bath, and VJ Gautieri Constructors Inc., located at 45 Liberty St. in the City of Batavia.

About Anthony Palmer -- 2019 honoree of the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation

Anthony (Tony) Palmer was born in1935, in an old Italian neighborhood, in New York City.

He is the son of George and Angelina Ambroselli Palmer. He is proud to say he is 100-percent Italian!

He moved to Olean at 7 years old where he attended school, and later graduated from St. Bonaventure University.

From 1954-1957 he admirably served his country in Far East Korea.

Two years later he married the love of his life, Margaret Cruess. Together they raised an amazing nine children: Theresa, Angela ,Joe, Ann, Mary, Eileen, Dan, Katie, and Ryan. They have 22 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

To say he is a family man is certainly an understatement! He and his wife have spent countless hours watching and volunteering at school events, sports events and, most importantly, their Catholic Church.

In 1966, Tony and his family moved to Batavia. He worked at Graham Manufacturing until his retirement in 2001.

He embraced the community and was a familiar face at numerous events and fundraisers. He credits his strong work ethic and willingness to help others, to his roots growing up as an Italian-American.

Tony has been an avid supporter of St. Joseph School and Notre Dame High School. He was past president of both schools, and ran ND Bingo for many, many years. He was inducted in Notre Dame Hall of Fame in 2001.

He has been a volunteer at the VA Hospital for an amazing 40 years. He is an Election Inspector for Genesee County.

He is a member of St. Nick’s Club, Right to Life, and St. Vincent DePaul. He is an active member of St. Mary’s Parish, where he is a Eucharistic Minister.

Tony is an excellent role model to young and old. He possess all the qualities to be awarded the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundations 2019 “Outstanding Italian American.”

To read about this year's eight scholarship candidates, click here.

June 6, 2019 - 11:29am
posted by Billie Owens in news, Jackson Square Concert Series, batavia, BID.

Here's the lineup for this year's Jackson Square Concert Series in Downtown Batavia.

Free, live music performances will be from 7 to 9 p.m. on Fridays in Jackson Square, located between Center and Jackson streets.

June 21 -- Genesee Ted (classic rock)

June 28 -- Skycats (classic rock party)

July 5 -- It's My Party ('60s music)

July 7 -- The Ramble (music festival)

July 12 -- Old Hippies (acoustic & orginal)

July 19 -- Red Creek (party rock)

July 26 -- Mitty & The Followers (Motown)

Aug. 2 -- OHMS Band (classic rock)

Aug. 9 -- Ghost Riders (hardcore country)

The free concert series, brought to you by the Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District (BID), is made possible by these sponsors:

  • M&T Bank
  • Erdman Anthony
  • Turnbull Inc. Heating & Air Conditioning
  • T.F. Brown's Restaurant
  • Tompkins Bank of Castile/Insurance Agencies/Financial Advisors
  • Western NY Concrete
  • Dan's Tire & Auto
  • L&L Transmissions Inc.
June 6, 2019 - 10:32am

Press release:

East Bethany – Join the Genesee County Parks along with the Oakfield-Alabama Lions Club and try out fishing at DeWitt Recreation Area from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 29th.

Kids up to age 16 can join the fun and get the chance to win a prize with the Kendra Haacke Memorial Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Oakfield-Alabama Lions Club. Prize includes fishing gear donated by Cabela’s of Cheektowaga.

No fishing license required, this is part of the NYSDEC’s Free Fishing Weekend. Perfect for beginners!

Program meets at Pavilion 3. Friendly guides will be on hand to assist you.

Fishing gear provided or bring your own. Bait provided through a generous donation by Walmart of Batavia.

Call 585-344-1122 register or walk-ins also welcome.

For more information visit the parks' website here, or contact Shannon Lyaski at [email protected] or (585) 344-1122.

June 5, 2019 - 11:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Habitat for Humanity, video.


Video Sponsor


Habitat for Humanity, with new homeowner Lisa Paul-Kahn and her daughter Zahara, dedicated their 22nd home project in Genesee County. This one is on East Main Street, Batavia.

The house was donated by Susan Blackburn and Bill Baskin in the memory of a former employee, Jayson Dersham, who died in an automobile accident in February 2017.

June 5, 2019 - 6:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify.
      Brandon Fogg

A local citizen came to the aid of a Batavia police officer who was attempting to apprehend a criminal suspect when the suspect pulled a handgun -- it turned out to be a BB gun -- from his pocket during the struggle.

The citizen stepped on the suspect's wrist causing him to drop the gun.

Brandon Fogg, 32, of Liberty Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, 3rd, criminal possession of a weapon, 4th, obstructing governmental administration, and trespass.

He was arraigned in City Court and ordered held without bail.

The incident began as a trespass complaint at 11:22 p.m., Tuesday, at a location on Ellicott Street.

Fogg was reportedly at a residence banging on the door against the complainant's wishes. 

Before patrols arrived, Fogg left the property. 

Officer Darryle Streeter observed Fogg in a passenger vehicle that was being driven with an illegal tire on it. 

Streeter initiated a traffic stop on Cedar Street near Ellicott Street. 

According to police, Fogg opened the car door and attempted to flee.

Streeter was able to grab Fogg and take him to the ground. Fogg allegedly fought with Streeter and during the struggle removed from his pocket what appeared to be a handgun.

At that point, an employee of a local business intervened and stepped on Fogg's wrist. When Fogg dropped the gun, Streeter was able to take him into custody.

Batavia PD did not release the name of the citizen at this time because the department has not obtained the citizen's permission to release it.

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