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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

May 4, 2020 - 12:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in softball, sports, batavia, Batavia HS, coronavirus.

Nickie Fazio, wife of Batavia High School softball Coach Jim Fazio, made this video as a tribute to the 2020 softball team, whose season has been canceled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fazio said:

I wanted to do something special for the Varsity girls since they did not get to play this year. My heart goes out to all of them, but especially the seniors. Took me the whole week to get it done. Thank you to everyone that sent me pictures to help me put this together. It evolved into something much bigger than I originally planned. This was the best way Coach and I could express how much these girls mean to us.

April 22, 2020 - 3:07pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, Genesee County Baseball Club, New York-Penn League.

Batavia City Manager Martin Moore says the New York-Penn League is “holding its breath” while Brian Paris, president of the Genesee County Baseball Club, is decrying the timing of the likelihood that the era of professional baseball in Batavia may be over.

“I just reached out to the NY-P League President (Ben Hayes, an attorney in Florida) a little while ago and he said they’re (Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball) still in negotiations (concerning a new Professional Baseball Agreement),” Moore said today. “They’re at a sensitive point in negotiations and I think the league is holding its breath.”

Published reports in Baseball America and The Associated Press indicate that details of a new agreement – which could eliminate 42 lower-level franchises, including short-season Class A baseball played by the Batavia Muckdogs – may come out following a teleconference call today.

“About the best I can say is everyone keep their fingers crossed,” said Moore, who would not speculate on the future of the city-owned Dwyer Stadium should the Muckdogs leave.

In January 2018, City Council transferred the lease of the stadium to the Muckdogs and the NY-P League, which had taken over ownership of the team. The NY-P League formed in 1939 with Batavia as an original member.

For Paris, who has been involved with the community-based GCBC for around 20 years, news of the possible end of the Muckdogs couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“This is never the way that we’ve wanted this to come to an end. I don’t even know how to express this … a worse situation could not have unraveled in regard to if it had to be taken from Batavia,” he said. This is not the way to do it. There’s no final season; there’s no way to prepare for what is next. There’s no way to allow people to come and watch a final game.”

Paris said it’s a crushing blow to “small town America.”

“Isn’t there a better time than now to make this announcement, when people that are involved in professional baseball don’t really have the ability to travel or communicate in a way that they would under normal circumstances?” he said. “Small town America is under siege with this crisis, and this only plays into further devastating these small towns.”

He expressed that the downsizing of pro baseball is a slap in the face of the residents of small cities such as Batavia.

“Baseball has always been about the people. The secondary portion of baseball is the people on the field. The primary portion has been the people in this country who have supported it over the last 100 years or more,” he said.

An email sent to Muckdogs General Manager Brendan Kelly was not returned by the time this article was posted.

Minor League Baseball on Tuesday released a statement disputing the Baseball America story.

“Recent articles on the negotiations between MiLB and Major League Baseball (MLB) are largely inaccurate," the statement read. "There have been no agreements on contraction or any other issues. MiLB looks forward to continuing the good faith negotiations with MLB tomorrow as we work toward an agreement that best ensures the future of professional baseball throughout the United States and Canada.”

The Associated Press today reported the following:

The minor leagues are prepared to agree to Major League Baseball’s proposal to cut guaranteed affiliations from 160 to 120 next year, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, a plan that would impact hundreds of prospects and cut player development expenses.

The person spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because no announcements were authorized. The development was first reported by Baseball America.

An electronic negotiating session is scheduled for Wednesday (today).

In informal talks, parties have discussed the possibility of a radical overhaul in which MLB would take over all of many of the duties of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body, another person familiar with the negotiations said.

Instead of franchise affiliations, there would be licensing agreements similar to those of hotel chains, that person said. MLB would then sell sponsorship, licensing and media rights, a switch that may lead to decreased overhead and increased revenue.

In talks to replace the Professional Baseball Agreement that expires after the 2020 season, MLB last year proposed cutting 42 affiliates, including Double-A teams in Binghamton, N.Y., and Erie, Pa., along with Chattanooga and Jackson, Tenn.

The plan would eliminate affiliations for the 28 teams from four Class A Short Season, including the NY-P, and Rookie Advanced leagues that do not play at spring training complexes.

April 21, 2020 - 10:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in muckdogs, baseball, sports, notify.

Minor League Baseball appears to be ready to accept a deal with MLB, Baseball America reports, that would eliminate 42 franchises and wipe out short-season Single-A baseball, ending an 81-year history of the New York Penn League that began in Batavia.

With a pandemic threatening the 2020 baseball season, Dwyer Stadium may have hosted its last professional baseball game on Sept. 6, 2019.

We don't know yet, of course. If there is 2020 baseball, the new deal -- which BA indicates isn't final yet -- wouldn't take effect until 2021.

There's no indication in the article how team owners would be compensated for the loss of their properties. The Batavia Muckdogs are owned by the NYPL but the Genesee County Baseball Club, a community group, and the Rochester Red Wings still have a financial stake in the team.

April 20, 2020 - 8:52am
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports, Batavia Downs, United States Trotting Association.

Submitted photo and press release:

Todd Haight, director and general manager of Live Racing at Batavia Downs, was named the interim chairman of United States Trotting Association District 8 region on Friday.

Haight will replace longtime District 8 chairman Michael Kane, who resigned earlier this year.

Haight was elected by his peers to his first term as a director during voting in January of this year and was assigned to the Communications/Marketing, Pari-Mutuel and Regulatory committees. He was again voted by his peers to the chairman position last week.

District 8 covers all of New York State as far south as Orange County. The roster of current directors include Kim Crawford, Mark Ford, John Matarazzo, Ray Schnittker, Mike Torcello and Scott Warren.

“I want to thank Mike Kane for the outstanding job he did during his tenure as chair," Haight said. "Having worked with Mike for many years, I feel the transition to his position should be seamless. I’m honored to take over and look forward to working with USTA President Russell Williams, Chairman Joe Faraldo, Vice-chair Mark Loewe and all the USTA directors.

“Despite the unprecedented times we are all currently working through, I feel that harness racing will return to the sports scene very soon and regain its popularity once again. And in my new role I plan on doing whatever I can to be a part of that resurgence in New York and across North America.”

Kelly Young is the Executive Director at Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and oversees the operations of the New York Sire Stakes.

She works closely with the chairman of District 8 during the stakes year as well as running the awards banquet in the fall. Young has worked with Haight for many years and looks forward to further concerted state racing promotional efforts with him in his new role.

“I have been pleased to work with Todd for nearly two decades at Batavia Downs and am excited to welcome him to, and work with him in this new role leading Upstate New York," Young said. "I would also like to thank outgoing chairman Mike Kane for his collaboration and leadership over the years."

Haight started his career with Western Regional OTB in 1998 when they became the new owners of Batavia Downs. He then served in various positions at the track before taking over as the director and general manager of racing in May of 2011.

April 11, 2020 - 1:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in golf, sports, Le Roy, covid-19, coronavirus.

Le Roy Oatkan Knight Golf Coach Amy Brotherton rallied her current and former players to produce a quarantine golf video. 

Principal Tim McArdle said it is a tribute to all Section V golfers and pros missing "Moving Day at the Masters Golf Tournament."

Popcorn
April 4, 2020 - 1:56pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, Pavilion, volleyball.

Submitted photo and press release:

Lukas Milligan, of Pavilion, was one of six Elmira College student-athletes recognized by the Empire 8 Conference.

Milligan (Class of '23), a volleyball player in Elmira's impressive rookie class, was selected to the Empire 8 All-Conference Second Team.

Milligan floored 125 kills with a 2.12 kills-per-set average, which was good for ninth in the conference. The Pavilion native and Pavilion High School graduate was deadly from the service line with a team-best 21 aces and set a single-match record with nine against Sage. On the other side of the ball, Milligan added a team-high 87 digs.

About Elmira College 

Founded in 1855, Elmira College is a private, residential, liberal arts college offering 30-plus majors, an honors program, 17 academic societies, and 20 Division III varsity teams. Located in the Southern Finger Lakes Region of New York, Elmira is a Phi Beta Kappa College and has been ranked a top college, nationally, for student internships. The College is also home to the Center for Mark Twain Studies, one of four historically significant Twain heritage sites in the United States, which attracts Twain scholars and educators from around the world for research on the famous literary icon.

March 30, 2020 - 9:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, sports, elba.
Video Sponsor

The Elba Lady Lancers released their quarantine workout video today -- no wonder they've won four straight sectional titles.

March 28, 2020 - 6:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in softball, sports, Batavia HS, covid-19, coronavirus.

From Coach Jim Fazio: "Players and coaches from the Batavia varsity softball team participated in the Section V Softball Challenge.

"Previously high schools from Waterloo and Rush Henrietta came up with the idea of practicing social distancing by still being involved with their teams in a unique way with softball related skills and players' imaginations.

"Since Alexander High School and others did a fantastic job with their videos, this challenge took off and we thought it would be a great idea to join in and have some fun while practicing social distancing and playing safe."

March 19, 2020 - 9:35am
posted by Mike Pettinella in sports.

Pin Points
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, organized bowling at the local, state and national levels has come to a screeching halt -- putting the overwhelming majority of the 1.4 million members of the United States Bowling Congress on the sidelines heading into the peak of the tournament season and down the stretch of the league season.

Without question, it’s a punch to the gut.

For more about the impact of COVID-19 upon the bowling industry -- and to catch up on tournament action that got in before the government's "social distancing" mandates -- click on the Pin Points logo above or the Pin Points tab at the top of this page.

March 16, 2020 - 1:15pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in Bowling, sports.

Due to directives coming from the federal and state government concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, the Genesee Region USBC has no choice but to cancel its Association Team and Doubles & Singles Tournament scheduled for the next two weekends.

GRUSBC President Gary Kuchler made the announcement today after receiving information from Tom Sardou, proprietor of Rose Garden Bowl in Bergen, and Scott O'Neill, manager of Legion Lanes in Le Roy, that their businesses have been drastically curtailed or completely shut down for an undetermined amount of time.

"We certainly respect the orders coming out of Washington and Albany and, in the best interest of the health and safety of our members, we will be postponing the Association Tournament -- both the Team event at Rose Garden Bowl and the Doubles & Singles at Legion Lanes," Kuchler said. "We will keep our bowlers informed of any developments through our website -- www.bowlgr.com."

It is unknown at this time whether league bowling will continue at area bowling centers. Bowlers are advised to contact their local bowling center for more information.

March 15, 2020 - 8:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Mens Hockey League, sports, hockey.

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Evan Eckerson, Newstead Homes Kings, watches his slap shot sail into the net for a second-period goal against the Genesee Orthopedics Canadians in the Batavia Mens Hockey League championship Sunday morning at Falleti Ice Arena.

Eckerson's goal cut the Canadians' 2-0 lead in half and the Kings went on to win 4-3 to become the 2020 champions.

Bare Antolos and Jim Mohn were credited with an assist on Eckerson's goal. 

The winning goal was scored by Jim Ernst at 13:55 in the third period with assists from Eckerson and Antolos.

Paul Greean and Dan Eckerson also scored for the Kings.

Scoring for the Canadians were Adam Siedlecki, Nick Busch and Ryan Difilippo.

For more photos and to purchase prints, click here.

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March 12, 2020 - 5:00pm

From Chris Watson, director of Communications, New York State Public High School Athletic Association, 3/12/20:

Latham -- The New York State Public High School Athletic Assocation winter regional and state championships will be postponed indefinitely.

It is certainly understood that postponing the remaining winter state championships is disappointing, however the opportunity to participate in a NYSPHSAA championship event does not outweigh our responsibility and obligation to ensure students participate in a healthy and safe environment.

The impacted events include the NYSPHSAA Ice Hockey, Bowling, Boys and Girls Basketball Regional and State Championships. 

NYSPHSAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Zayas said “It was my goal to complete the winter championships on schedule. It has become increasingly more difficult to host these championship events with the number of challenges that have been presented.

"I also have concerns as the Executive Director of NYSPHSAA and a parent, that students will be participating in an event under circumstances that are not conducive to a quality and beneficial participation experience.”

As information becomes available NYSPHSAA will provide updates.

March 12, 2020 - 12:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, Elba Lancers, pavilion gophers, state crossover.
Video Sponsor

It wasn't easy but Elba prevailed over Pavilion in the Class D consolidation game Tuesday night at Mount Morris 50-47.

Leah Bezon scored 14 points, Taylor Augello, 12, Brynn Walczak, and Maddie Muehlig 10. Muehlig hit a trio of three-point shots. Bezon had 11 rebounds.

For Pavilion, Lauren Kingsley scored 22 points and Karlee Zinkievich scored 14. Kingsley also had 12 rebounds.

Elba takes a shot at a regional championship at Rush Henrietta on Saturday. Game time is 1 p.m.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

To view or purchase prints, click here.

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