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Moriah baseball stars join hall of fame

Salerno recalls battles with Podres

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.

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.

— “I love working,” he said. “I’ll work as long as I can put one foot in front of the other. And, I still play golf. I’ve been a member of the Moriah Country Club for 50 years.”

Podres, who died in 2008, had a spectacular career. 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 a 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 Cy Young winner and three-time World Series champion Curt Schilling when he was on the Philadelphia Phillies staff.

“You had better get the bat off your shoulder against Johnny,” Salerno said. “If not, it was 1-2-3, you were gone. He just threw the ball by everyone. He was an amazing pitcher, with great control. He always threw strikes.”

The Capital District Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony, held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Albany, featured current and past major league players.

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