Home of heroes

Moriah is like many Adirondack hamlets, full of decent people working to make their lives and communities better. But Moriah can claim something few other communities can match a pair of bona fide national heroes. The town produced Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Raymond Buzz Wright and 1955 World Series Most Valuable Player Johnny Podres. That came to mind this week with news that Podres, age 75, had died. Podres did the unthinkable he led the Brooklyn Dodgers past the New York Yankees for their one and only World Series championship. The Witherbee native was named the 1955 World Series Most Valuable Player after winning two games, including the decisive seventh game, 2-0. He was also Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year that season Podres ended a legendary sports drought. The Dodgers had lost the World Series to their cross-town rival Yankees five straight times. The day after the final game the New York Post published a full-page photo of the Dodger ace with the headline: PODRES! (Need We Say More?). The celebration in Brooklyn following the World Series victory was said to be greater than at the end of World War II. A 1950 Mineville High School graduate, Podres pitched 15 years in the major leagues with the Dodgers, Padres and Tigers, posting a 148-116 record with 3.67 earned run average. The southpaw appeared in three All-Star Games and was 4-1 in World Series play (1953, 1955, 1959 and 1963) with a 2.11 ERA. After retiring as a player in 1969, Podres became a pitching coach with the Twins and Phillies. When his baseball career ended, Podres returned to the North Country, living in Queensbury. He often returned to Mineville to hunt, fish and visit old friends. The Moriah Central School baseball field bears his name. He was inducted into the Lake Placid Hall of Fame in 2006. A park pays tribute to Wright in Mineville. A street also bears his name. The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in combat presented to United States servicemen. It is presented by the President on behalf of Congress and is commonly known as the Congressional Medal of Honor. Wright also received the Silver Star. Wright was a member of the Armys 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam on May 2, 1967, when his unit came under attack. According to Army records, Wright and another soldier saved their unit during an ambush from enemy bunkers. This two-man assault had driven an enemy platoon from a well-prepared position, accounted for numerous enemy casualties and averted further friendly casualties. Spfc. Wrights extraordinary heroism, courage and indomitable fighting spirit saved the lives of many of his comrades and inflicted serious damage on the enemy. His acts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army, reads his citation. The deeds of Podres and Wright are more than local lore, they hold a place in our nations history. Both are now deceased, but they should remain proud examples of a proud community. There are signs entering the town of Moriah which highlight football and cheerleading championships won by the local high school. Its time for those signs to be amended or replaced with the addition of Home of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Raymond Buzz Wright and 1955 World Series Most Valuable Player Johnny Podres.

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