Baseball legend's memory aids Moriah youth squads

PORT HENRY Youth baseball is getting a boost from a long-time, though departed, fan. The Johnny Podres Moriah Little League Fund was established at the request of the former pitching greats family following his death in January. The money is to be used to purchase equipment for youth baseball teams in the community. Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava reported at the Feb. 12 town board meeting the Philadelphia Phillies had just made a $1,000 contribution to the fund. The total is $2,400 and growing, the supervisor noted. This is something Johnny and his family wanted, Scozzafava said. He was well-respected and this is proof. Podres, who pitched the Brooklyn Dodgers to their only World Series title in 1955, died Jan. 13 at the age of 75. Podres grew up on Lamos Place in Witherbee. He graduated from Mineville High School in 1950 before joining the Dodgers. After a long career as a pitcher and later as a pitching coach, Podres retired to Queensbury. 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?"). As the story goes, Podres told his teammates to get him just one run and the Dodgers would win Game 7. They got him two, and the franchise celebrated its first and only championship while playing in Brooklyn. The celebration in Brooklyn following the World Series victory was said to be greater than at the end of World War II. Moriah celebrated, too. Shortly after winning the World Series, Podres returned home for a huge parade and celebration. 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. Podres also served as a pitching coach when he was older, helping develop Frank Viola when he was with the Minnesota Twins and Curt Schilling when he was on the Philadelphia Phillies staff. In 2005 Podres was grand marshall of the Moriah Labor Day parade in 2005 as the community celebrated the 50th anniversary of him being named World Series MVP. In 2006 he was inducted into the Lake Placid Hall of Fame.

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