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sports

July 13, 2020 - 11:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, sports, notify, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

Genesee Community College has made the decision to suspend its fall athletic season to protect the health and safety of the students and community in light of the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This decision will affect men's and women's soccer, basketball, swimming and diving, and women's volleyball, which is in line with the majority of Region III decisions.

GCC coaches have communicated this news to their teams, and are maintaining continual engagement with the College's student-athletes, as well as providing opportunities for safe athletic conditioning activities where possible.

"This decision, although not without its disappointments, is the best path for us to ensure the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches and training staff," said Assistant Vice President of Student Engagement & Inclusion Kristen Schuth.

"While we are eager to move forward with such an important part of the student and campus experience, the landscape of this semester just does not allow us to do so in a method that would have been convincingly without associated risks. I look forward to the day when it is safe for the fields and floors of GCC to hold competitions again."

GCC will honor all signed scholarship agreements for incoming student-athletes and for those returning. At this time, the length of the fall sports suspension is unknown, and decisions regarding winter and spring sports have not yet been made. Sport-specific updates will be shared as they become available at geneseeathletics.com.

July 10, 2020 - 1:35pm

Press release:

Niagara Orleans Football Association (NOFA) has been delayed due to COVID-19 pandemic to a date to be determined.

The NOFA organization is tentatively looking to plan for our 2020 season of football and cheer to commence, if possible, in March 2021. As well, NOFA intends to commence the regularly scheduled 2021 season the last week of July 2021.

In the meantime, please watch for NOFA football and cheer activities for our football players, cheerleaders and families.

Be SAFE and WELL NOFA families!

NOFA is the governing body for football and cheerleading for the areas that include Akron, Albion, Attica, Batavia, Holley, Medina, Newfane, Oakfield-Elba, Pembroke, RoyHart, and Tri-Town school districts.

NOFA has a full-contact football program that is age based with ages ranging from 6 – 13 based on a Dec. 1 birthdate.

We have four Divisions: 6 – 7 years old are Beginners; 8 -9 years old are Minis; 10 – 11 years old are JV; and 12 – 13 years old are Varsity.

Joe Bradt
Treasurer
NOFA Youth Football
PO Box 34
Oakfield NY 14125

July 1, 2020 - 12:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, muckdogs, batavia, notify.

One thing is certain: There will be no professional baseball in Batavia in 2020.

The decision is final, according to numerous news reports that say the Minor League Baseball season is canceled because Major League Baseball teams will not furnish the minors with players in 2020. 

If there is an MLB season, it will likely start later this month, with only 60 games on the schedule. Teams would be limited to 60 eligible players. The 20 players beyond the standard 40-man roster would practice and workout on "taxi squads."

New York Penn League President Ben Hayes, in an exclusive interview with The Batavian a week ago, was still hopeful at that point that there would be a 2020 season for his league and the Muckdogs. We've not been able to reach him for comment today.

While it's quite possible there will never again be a professional baseball game played in Dwyer Stadium, last week Hayes was also hopeful that wouldn't be the case.

Prior to the pandemic hitting, the future of baseball in Batavia didn't look good. The MLB is trying to force the MiLB to accept a contraction, eliminating 42 minor league teams, including the entire NYPL. While there was talk of creating a "dreamers league" of low-level prospects, and Batavia could be a potential spot for such a team, there was no indication at that stage of negotiations on whether Batavia would be part of those plans.  

An ESPN column suggests that the 2020 cancellation and pandemic have effectively eliminated whatever leverage the minor league teams might have had to stop the contraction. Several teams were in a precarious situation financially, not just including the 42 slated for elimination, and now the financial situation is much worse for those teams.

Last week, Hayes said he has communicated his desire to MiLB negotiators to see at least one more season of NYPL baseball, asking that the contraction be delayed until after the 2021 season, which would give cities like Batavia a farewell tour with their teams.

June 29, 2020 - 11:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, golf.

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Batavia native Tony DiMartino scored his first career hole-in-one Sunday at his home course, Oswego Country Club. The ace came on the 167-yard 4th hole. DiMartino used a 6 iron.

The shot was witnessed by Dan Burns, Rod Allen and Doug Cecere.

Photo and info submitted by Doug Cecere.

June 26, 2020 - 12:26pm

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Longtime Western Regional Off-Track Betting (WROTBC) employee Aaron Galanti was named the new Track Superintendent at Batavia Downs on Thursday after Fran Mruczek announced his retirement on Monday (June 22).

Galanti has worked under Mruczek for a number of years.

Galanti joined WROTBC, the owner of Batavia Downs, in 2008 and has worked with the track crew since 2009.

“I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to become the track super,” Galanti said.

“Equine safety will continue to be our number one priority at Batavia Downs and I look forward to working with all the horsemen and horsewomen in regards to such.”

“We can’t thank Fran enough for his many years of dedicated service to our corporation," said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live Racing. "It was not unusual to see Fran out on the track at 10 p.m. watering on dark days or here at 3 a.m. plowing snow. The racetrack was certainly his baby.” 

“And we’re all very happy for Aaron; he’s a great guy who has earned this opportunity. He has learned from the best and is ready for his new role; I’m confident he’ll do an outstanding job.”

Live harness racing returns to Batavia Downs on Saturday (July 25) with post time scheduled for 5 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Batavia Downs.

June 24, 2020 - 4:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, muckdogs, sports, baseball, notify.

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It would be "very, very sad" way for baseball to end in Batavia and 41 other minor league cities if the baseball season were canceled and a new agreement between Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball eliminated those small franchises, said Ben Hayes, president of the New York Penn League.

Professional baseball in Batavia was under threat of extinction before a pandemic hit, and news reports have indicated Minor League Baseball has conceded to the MLB's request to consolidate leagues across the nation. Still, Hayes said today that negotiations continue and nothing has been finalized.

Even better news, he isn't giving up on playing NYPL baseball in 2020. The season is indefinitely postponed, but Hayes said he and league owners and officials want players in parks and fans in seats this season if at all possible, including in Batavia.  

The NYPL operates in eight states, and there are only two stadiums so far that are in regions where COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted enough to allow fans and ballplayers into ballparks.

"There's nobody at the Major League level or the Minor League level that has said this season is over and done," Hayes said. "Nothing has been canceled at either the full-season or short-season level."

If a decision was made to play ball, the MLB has suggested it would take players two or three weeks to get ready for the rigors of professional baseball.  

Hayes is currently traveling around the league, including a planned stop in Batavia, and league owners have been holding regular conference calls so they can be ready for the day when there can be baseball again.

Every team is developing plans to ensure social distancing is maintained; there is plenty of personal protective equipment for personnel; there are plans for thorough and regular cleaning and sanitizing in place, and to ensure that hotels and busses are safe and clean. 

"Everybody has a plan right now," Hayes said. "We're following the guidelines to make sure our players are safe but also our fans and stadium staff or safe. Right now, it's just a waiting game."

If the season is washed out, Hayes said he has already communicated with the Minor League's negotiating committee to request that any new agreement that could potentially eliminate teams would be delayed at least a year so that fans in those cities losing their franchises could get a farewell season before shutting down.

"That's my hope," Hayes said. "We voiced that to our representatives on the negotiating committee," Hayes said. "There are 42 clubs out there that if that plan were to go through, they would have never gotten a chance to have a last season, and that would be very, very sad."

As for the current operations of the Muckdogs, if you call the office, the phone is disconnected. It's not possible to get in touch with General Manager Brendan Kelly.  

Hayes said shutting down operations was purely a cost-saving measure and not an indication of the status of the ballclub.

"We're just trying to save money," Hayes said. "We're trying not to accrue costs simply because of the financial situation of the Muckdogs."

Meanwhile, except for the city mowing the infield and outfield grass, the playing surface is not being maintained. Weeds are sprouting up all over the diamond that Cooper Thomas has beautifully manicured over the past couple of seasons. 

None of that is a worry, Hayes said. 

"We can get that back in shape in two or three weeks once we get a grounds crew in there," Hayes said. 

The weeds maybe a little bigger but the situation now isn't much different than it would be in a typical year when crews start preparing the field for high school players in the spring.

"It's amazing what an edger and a lawnmower and a little bit of fertilizer and weed killer can do," Hayes said. "It makes a huge difference and you can really turn a field around quickly."

Whether Thomas will return in 2020 to lead that effort -- assuming the NYPL gets to play baseball -- is up in the air, Hayes said. He would love to have Thomson back and Thomas wants to come back, he said, but President Trump's current moratorium on worker immigration because of COVID-19 could prevent Thomas from making the trip from Australia to Batavia.

Top Photo: Weeds growing in the Dwyer Stadium infield.

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Yesterday, the Dwyer Stadium scoreboard was lit up with "Reds 0 / Pirates 0 / PPD."

June 18, 2020 - 12:43pm

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

Horsemen wishing to race at Batavia Downs for the upcoming 2020 annual summer/fall meet should note that stall applications are now available on the track’s website

Simply click Live Racing>Horsemen>Stall Application, Agreement & Reservations link to download.

Stall applications are also available at the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association office located on-site at Buffalo Raceway.

The complete 2020 racing schedule can also be found at Live Racing>Live Racing Schedule.

Batavia Downs will conduct a 43-day meet this year with daily purses down roughly 20 percent from last year due to the gaming floor closure since Mid-March.

“We have worked closely with the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association to do what was best for them with regard to our purses this season, as well as for future meets given the current conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Todd Haight, director/general manager of Live Racing. 

Racing Secretary Joe Zambito has stated that stall applications must be received by the track no later than Friday (July 3).

During this meet, Open I events (on both gaits and including filly and mare pacers) will compete for $10,000 while the Open II will race for $9,000 and the Open III will go for $8,000.

The backstretch will open for both tack and horses at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 18.

Batavia Downs offers a text messaging service for notices about draws, entries and changes to the racing schedule. Horsemen are strongly encouraged to text the word “HORSEMAN” to 51660. You will then need to reply “YES” and you will be opted in for race office text message updates. 

The 74th season of live harness racing at America’s oldest lighted harness kicks off on Saturday, July 25 and runs through Saturday, Dec. 12.

June 18, 2020 - 11:52am
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Downs, sports, belmont stakes, Fortune's, OTB.

Press release:

Officials at Batavia Downs today announced that in preparation for the Belmont Stakes running this weekend, they have implemented several promotions that will take place onsite.

At Fortune’s restaurant, guests can order the $25 Belmont special, which consists of two 10 oz. strip steaks, a $5 wager on the Belmont and two $10 Gaming Free Plays, valid to be redeemed once the gaming floor is reopened. This special is for dine-in customers only and can be purchased anytime on Friday or Saturday up until Belmont Post time of 5:42 p.m.

There will be $2.50 Belmont Breeze drinks available at the Gatsby Bar.

The purchase of any entrees this weekend will also allow the purchaser to receive $10 Free Plays to be redeemed once the gaming floor is reopened.

Batavia Downs also announced that their on-site simulcast center will be open on Friday for those wishing to make advance wagers. It will be open Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Guests may wager on the Belmont Stakes or any other tracks that are running.  Western OTB’s branches across Western and Central New York are also open for advanced wagers on Friday and Saturday.

Those wishing to visit Fortune's or OTB Branches must wear a mask.

To reach the simulcast center, guests may enter at the valet entrance and take the elevator by Fortune’s or go through the main doors and up to the second floor. 

The gaming floor remains closed at this time.

“The Belmont Stakes is usually the third leg of the Triple Crown, but this year the order has been restructured and New York’s leg is up first,” said Todd Haight, general manager of Live Racing. “We’re looking forward to a great race and hope to see people take advantage of these great promotions.”

To make an order for take out or to make reservations, guests may call 585-FORTUNE -- (585) 367-8863.

June 17, 2020 - 6:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in kathy hochul, baseball, sports, video, muckdogs.
Video Sponsor

While Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was in Pavilion today, we asked her if she was still involved in trying to save the Batavia Muckdogs.

June 15, 2020 - 6:20pm

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This afternoon at Van Detta Stadium, Batavia High School Senior Margaret "Maggie" Andersen received her Athletic Sports Awards today early before leaving for the Air Force Academy. 

Presented by Athletic Director Mike Bromley and Track coaching staff:

  • Batavia Coaches' Association 2019 - 2020 Scholar Athlete of the Year Award;
  • BHS Senior Athlete Award for three-season athletes throughout four years of High School;
  • NYSPHSAA (New York State Public High School Athletic Association) Scholar Athlete Award for indoor track and field;
  • Batavia Coaches Association Outstanding Athletic Achievement Section V Champion Indoor Track and Field.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

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June 12, 2020 - 4:11pm

The New York Sire Stakes, the state's premier harness racing program, has released the complete and revised schedule for the 2020 racing season. Two-year-olds will begin with filly pacers on July 4 at Vernon Downs.

As previously announced, 3-year-old events get underway June 21 at Tioga Downs. A full schedule, including dates for Batavia Downs, can be found at nysirestakes.com.

All dates are pending New York State Gaming Commission approval at the individual raceways and are subject to alterations as racing, operating and regulatory conditions change. The NYSS will notify horseman as soon as possible if any changes occur.

"It’s an exciting step to release the revised schedule for our 2020 season,” said Kelly Young, executive director of the Agriculture & New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund. “We appreciate the patience of all our participants as we worked through many uncertainties and continue to address challenges as they emerge.

"We understand there are still many things that could change over the next few months, but this schedule reflects the best information we have at this time. We will continue to work with the state’s racetracks to stay as close to this schedule as possible if changes are necessary or if a track cannot accommodate an event.”

The NYSS would like to thank the management and staff at each track for their cooperation and assistance in developing this schedule. The NYSS is a partnership between the state, the horsemen and the raceways and we were inspired to see the collaborative spirit among all involved to help solidify the 2020 calendar.

Changes for the upcoming season have been approved by the Trustees of the Fund to address the shortfall in revenue due to the extended track closures. The NYSS and Excelsior Series will host five legs for each of the age, gait and sex divisions. Purses for each leg will be maintained at a level very similar to last year.

Excelsior purses remain the same for both the A and B levels ($15,000 and $6,000 plus starting fees, respectively) with no Excelsior events raced at Goshen Historic Track this year.

NYSS Finals on the Night of Champions, Excelsior Finals and County Fair Finals purses will remain at their previously announced levels of $225,000, $50,000 and $10,000, respectively, per division. There will be no Sire Stakes Consolation events this year.

An update on the County Fair schedule is slated to be announced in the coming week. The first racing date is slated for July 9 and the Finals are still planned for the Labor Day weekend.

The publication of the County Fair Racing Schedule booklet has been delayed as dates and procedures are confirmed with participating fairs, but will be available in print and digital form as soon as details are finalized.

June 5, 2020 - 10:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, video, covid-19, coronavirus.
Video Sponsor

For spring athletes, they lost their seasons, and they lost many of the senior-year traditions, such as Senior Night. Rich Hannan, athletic director for Byron-Bergen, organized a parade through the county in their honor.

June 2, 2020 - 12:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in car racing, Orange County Fair Speedway, sports.

Press release:

MIDDLETON -- On Saturday, June 6th, the Orange County Fair Speedway is back on track with their season opener, a 43-lap race, run in honor of one of their most decorated competitors, 64-year old driver, Nascar Daytona winner, Jimmy Horton, also known as “The Sensational One,” who has spent much of his career on dirt behind the wheel of the No. 43 dirt modified.

The Northeast’s toughest competitors are expected to come looking for a special $4,300 to win prize, too!

Though OCFS has lost 10 early season races due to the COVID-19 shutdown, it is not uncommon for the track to suffer the loss of several events in the rainy spring months of the early season. Now that he northeast is entering the summer months, prime racing season is upon us and OCFS is fortunate to be opening their gates, albeit in a limited capacity.

Initially, competitors will be welcomed back with just two divisions a night. Opening Night will feature the United Rentals Big Block Division in a 43-lap race and a $4,300 to win boosted purse with the Sportsman division supporting.

Competitors will be expected to follow rigorous social distancing protocols and take all measures recommended by the CDC for reducing the spread of COVID-19. For a full breakdown on protocols and measures taken, OCFS has added sections to their “Competitor Info” menu on their website. OCFS staff and management is also prepared with PPE and social distancing guidelines and will be enforcing measures on the grounds among themselves, competitors and teams.

At this time, OCFS cannot welcome fans back to their grandstands unfortunately; however the historic speedway boasts a unique feature, a Drive-In Section. With drive-in theaters being given the greenlight to open back up with limited capacity in NYS, OCFS can open theirs to fans when racing resumes at the over 100-year-old speedway.

To maintain social distancing, OCFS’s Drive-In capacity will be reduced, making a spot at the races a hot commodity. To best accommodate their customers, OCFS will pre-sell Drive-In parking spots by phone. Fans can call the speedway office at (845) 342-2573, and reference a Drive-In seat map, found under the “Fan Info” menu option of the OCFS website, to buy their drive-in spot.

Even in the Drive-In social distancing rules must still be maintained as we continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. Usual Drive-in activities like cooking/grilling and children bicycling in between racing action will be prohibited until further notice. Fans will be permitted to bring already prepared food that must stay contained in their vehicle and/or designated parking area.

When the drive-in section inevitably fills up with eager race fans, many will be left without a seat. For those fans and others outside the area or at higher risk of illness, OCFS will be presenting live streaming of the event. Broadcast-quality, multi-camera production will be available for fans to stream on the OCFS website for a fee of $24.99 starting at around 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 6th.

Leading up to the event and on June 6th, the D-Day Invasion Anniversary, OCFS will also be collecting donations for Hudson Valley Honor Flight, a charity the speedway has worked with for the last two seasons to raise money to send aging U.S. military veterans in our area to Washington, D.C., where they can visit the many memorials in their honor and receive recognition for their service.

The speedway will utilize Facebook to collect donations for the charity, where fans will also get to watch an exclusive free preview of the June 6thlivestream. Check out OCFS’s official Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/OCFSRacing/

Visit the speedway website for the latest track news, results, videos, fan and competitor information and more: www.orangecountyfairspeedway.net.

June 6th Schedule of Events

  • 3 – 5:15 p.m. / Pit Gate opens / All Divisions Handicap Starting Spots 
  • 5:15 – 5:45 p.m. / Facebook Drivers Meeting 
  • 5:45 – 6 p.m. / Sportsman to staging area 
  • 6 – 6:20 p.m. / Hot Laps Sportsman 
  • 6 -- 6:30 p.m. / Small Block Modifieds practice session 
  • 6:20 – 6:40 p.m. / Hot Laps Modifieds 
  • 6:40 – 6:45 p.m. / Pre-Race Ceremonies / National Anthem 
  • 6:45 -7:45 p.m. / Sportsman Heats – 6 Heats, 8 Laps each 
  • 7:45 – 8:20 p.m. / Modified Heats – 4 Heats, 8 Laps each 
  • 8:20 – 8:40 p.m. / Sportsman Last Chance Qualifier(s) – 8 Laps 
  • 8:40 – 8:50 p.m. / Modified Last Chance Qualifier – 8 Laps 
  • 8:55 – 9:20 p.m. / Sportsman Feature Event – 20 Laps 
  • SPORTSMAN VICTORY LANE PHOTO. DRIVER REMAINS IN CAR, NO CREW 
  • 9:25 – 9:55 p.m. / Modified Feature – 30 Laps 
  • MODIFIED VICTORY LANE PHOTO, DRIVER REMAINS IN CAR, NO CREW
May 21, 2020 - 5:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in golf, sports, batavia country club, batavia.

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A Batavia Country Club today, Dave Barone, an avid golfer for nearly 60 years, sank his first hole-in-one.

The perfect shot came on the 178-yard 17th hole. Barone was swinging a 4 hybrid.

He finished the round at 79 strokes.  

In his foursome were Rod Allen, Johnny Lowe, and Doug Cecere.

Photo and info submitted by Doug Cecere.

May 16, 2020 - 5:12pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, notify, Batavia Downs Gaming, covid-19.

Horse racing in New York State could resume as early as June 1, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today at his COVID-19 pandemic press conference.

The governor said that racing would take place without spectators and with safety measures that will be outlined in detail in the days ahead, and the restart would hinge upon the continuous decline of New York’s total hospitalization rate from the virus. 

While live racing isn’t scheduled to officially begin at Batavia Downs Gaming until July 22, Henry Wojtaszek, president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., said today’s announcement is welcome news.

“We’re certainly happy to hear that, and we have been doing a great deal of work preparing for our opening (of the gaming facility) sometime in June,” he said. “We have been working with the (New York State) Gaming Commission internally and will start working on the track in about a week or so to get that ready.”

Batavia Downs’ harness racing slate currently lists 65 dates, beginning on Wed., July 22 and ending in early December.

When asked if Batavia Downs Gaming has a reopening plan in place, Wojtaszek said that “it’s a work in progress” that is being shared at every step with the Gaming Commission.

Live Racing GM/Director Todd Haight, Vice President of Operations Scott Kiedrowski, and Wojtaszek are steering the drafting of the facility’s reopening plan in conjunction with the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association, “with whom we have a very good relationship,” Wojtaszek said.

“We’re also working with our trade association, the New York Gaming Association, and individually to cleanse and sanitize, and put the safety protocols in place,” he said, noting that some parts of the operation are included in Phase Three and some in Phase Four of the state’s four-phase reopening strategy.

“That’s why we’re hoping to open sometime in June,” he said.

Wojtaszek said that all employees are back to work, some on a regular basis – such as security, surveillance and maintenance staff – and others either working at the Park Road site, from home or on call.

Also, today, Cuomo said that Watkins Glen International race track would be able to reopen for NASCAR races in August, and baseball was mentioned as a sport that could conduct its season without fans in the stands.

The governor reported that daily hospitalizations and intubations have dropped to around 400 new cases per day.

May 16, 2020 - 1:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, le roy hs, Le Roy.

Tim McArdle, Le Roy High School principal, created a series of videos celebrating the Oatkan Knights spring sports teams, which had their spring seasons canceled by the pandemic. For the full playlist, click here.

May 14, 2020 - 9:30pm
posted by James Burns in Batavia High School, batavia, news, sports.

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At 8:20 p.m. (20:20 on a 24-hour clock) Batavia High School faculty and coaches lined Richmond Avenue next to a lit up Van Detta Stadium to honor students of the Class of 2020.

They were also there to honor all the athletes who did not finish, or never played spring sports this truncated school year.

The scoreboard was lit up with a score of 20-20, 20 min. 20 sec. with the message “Batavia High School Celebrates the Class of 2020."

Students and their families were asked to drive by to see the scoreboard lit up in their honor. 

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May 12, 2020 - 5:43pm

By Tim Bojarski for Batavia Downs

Bernie E. Hanley, age 84, of Batavia, NY, died peacefully on Thursday (May 7, 2020) at the home of his daughter while under the care of Hospice and his loving family. 

Mr. Hanley was born on Feb. 9, 1936, in Fulton, NY, a son of the late Laurence and Mary (Welch) Hanley. After graduating from Batavia High School, he went on to honorably serve his country in the Army during the Korean War. 

Upon returning stateside, Mr. Hanley got involved in harness racing in the 1960s and bought his first horse to compete at Batavia Downs, a pacer named Chief Maynard (2:00.3, $138,342). He was one of the best top-class pacers in Western New York at the time and found the winner’s circle many times. He also raced Mac’s Miss Mary (1:55.3, $150,794), Irish Dancer A (1:59, $117,693), Overnight Guy (2:01.3, $64,985) and several others during his career. 

Although Mr. Hanley was well known on the local harness racing circuit as an owner/trainer for many years, most would remember him (and his wife Mary Ann) as the owner of Hanley’s Restaurant, which was conveniently located directly across the street from Batavia Downs. Hanley’s was the “horseman’s hangout” after the races for decades where wins were celebrated, races were relived and many longtime friendships were formed.

Upon retirement, the Hanley’s moved South to Florida and enjoyed the sun for close to 30 years. While there, was Mr. Hanley was a member of the Deland Amvets Post 13 and the Deland Elks Lodge 1463. He was also a member of the Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post 332 in Batavia. 

Mr. Hanley had many friends both in and out of harness racing and will be remembered by all as a hard-working man who loved his family deeply.

Mr. Hanley is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Mary Ann (Musshafen) Hanley of Batavia; children, Patrick (Carol) Hanley of Alabama, Elsie (Greg) Lee of Batavia and Dr. Greg (Angela) Hanley of Tennessee; brother, Larry (Mary) Hanley of Akron; 10 cherished grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren along with many nieces and nephews.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, Mr. Hanley’s Mass of Christian Burial will take place at a later date. 

Memorial contributions in his memory can be made to: HomeCare & Hospice, 26 Liberty St., Batavia, NY 14020 or at http://www.homecare-hospice.org.

You can share your words of comfort with Mr. Hanley’s family at www.tomaszewskifh.com.

For his full obituary, click here.

May 8, 2020 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, baseball, Batavia HS, batavia.

Tribute to Batavia High School's 2020 baseball team by Nickie Fazio.

May 4, 2020 - 4:48pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Batavia Downs, James P. Samberg.

Former Vice President of Operations at Batavia Downs, James P. Samberg, passed away on Wednesday (Apr. 29) at the age of 85.  

Samberg was born in 1935 in Detroit, Mich., where he attended Precious Blood Catholic School and Catholic Central High School. He went on to graduate from St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto with a degree in Theology and Writing. He taught English and history for a year at his alma mater, Catholic Central HS and then at Aquinas Institute. 

In 1983, Samberg transitioned careers and came to Batavia Downs as their Director of Publicity. His leadership in the organization eventually moved him to overseeing the entire plant as vice-president of operations, a position he held until the tracks initial closure in 1997. In 1998 Samberg reached out to Western Regional Off Track Betting (WROTB) with a proposal to sell the track to them and was eventually able to consummate a deal that year. The track reopened under its new ownership in 2002.

It was the efforts of Samberg to move Batavia Downs forward that gave the shuttered track a new life under the guidance of the WROTB and that interaction eventually turned out to be financially beneficial to the residents of 15 Western New York counties (that include the cities of Buffalo and Rochester) by returning more than $220 million in revenues generated by the now modern and thriving racing and gaming venue to the taxpayers of those municipalities over the last 18 years.

Samberg was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend who loved life and everyone he knew. He was well respected by all the horsemen who raced at Batavia Downs during his tenure and will be missed by everyone who knew him.

Samberg was predeceased by his parents, Louis and Martha Samberg; loving wife, Barbara P. Samberg; son, Michael P. McDonald. He is survived by his children, Martha Smith, Mark (Jacqueline) McDonald, Margo McDonald and Meghan McDonald (Scott Boone); 11 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; brother, Carl L. Samberg; sister, Suzanne (Ronald) Marmol; sister-in-law, Donna Warner; several nieces and nephews; and special friend of the family, Bonnie Jones.

A Memorial Mass at St. Ann's Home will be scheduled at a later date due to the current situation. Interment at Holy Sepulchre was held privately. Memorials may be made to the American Kidney Foundation or to the Sisters of Mercy. To share a memory of James please visit www.giltnerfuneralhomes.com.

-- By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs

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