Pat Salerno, right, of Port Henry was part of the inaugural class of the newly-formed Capital District Baseball Hall of Fame. Congratulating him is his son, Tim. Salerno was inducted along with Witherbee native Johnny Podres.
Port Henry Pat Salerno remembers the first night baseball game ever played at Linney Field in Mineville.
“It was Port Henry at Mineville (high schools); it was a big deal,” Salerno, now age 79, recalled. ”Johnny (Podres) pitched a three-hitter. I had two hits and Chuck DeVito had the other. Mineville came out on top. That was a great game; there were some great players back in those days. We had some real battles.”
Moriah fans witnessed some of the best baseball in the country in the late 1940s. Podres, the Mineville ace, went on to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers — winning the 1955 World Series Most Valuable Player award. Port Henry stalwarts Salerno and DeVito both played professional, minor league ball — Salerno, an outfielder, in the Dodgers system and DeVito, a catcher, with the Yankees.
That bygone era was immoralized Nov. 6 when Salerno and Podres were part of the inaugural class of the newly-formed Capital District Baseball Hall of Fame. They were among 32 players enshrined at the hall of fame at Joseph Bruno Stadium in Troy, home of the New York-Penn League’s Tri-City Valley Cats.
Salerno didn’t know he was to be honored at the induction ceremony. He went to see Podres inducted.
“I had no idea I was going to be inducted,” Salerno said. “It’s a great honor, especially being inducted with Johnny Podres. He was a great, great player and a very good friend. It was a real surprise.”
Alex Isabelle, a scout with the Brooklyn Dodgers, came to Mineville in 1950 to see Podres, a top pitching prospect. He saw Podres — and Salerno. Both were signed and began professional baseball careers.
“They gave me $1,000 (signing bonus),” Salerno said. “It was a lot of money for me; it was like a million dollars. I couldn’t believe someone would pay me to play baseball. Mickey Mantle only got $500 and he turned out to be pretty good.”