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Champ, baseball ace to share spotlight

Champ Day Aug. 4 in Port Henry

“Champ” will again share top billing at the 31st annual Champ Day in Port Henry this year. The celebration of the alleged Lake Champlain monster will include a tribute to native son Johnny Podres Saturday, Aug. 4. It’s the second year the community will honor Podres during Champ Day festivities.

“Champ” will again share top billing at the 31st annual Champ Day in Port Henry this year. The celebration of the alleged Lake Champlain monster will include a tribute to native son Johnny Podres Saturday, Aug. 4. It’s the second year the community will honor Podres during Champ Day festivities. Photo by Nancy Frasier.

— The belt came from Bill Harris Jr. of Napa, Calif., who learned of Salerno’s efforts to honor Podres. Harris received the belt from his father, Bill Harris, who worked along side Podres’ father in the Mineville mines.

“He (Harris) found my number and called me,” Salerno said. “He said he wanted me to have the belt. I was shocked.”

Salerno will also show videos of Podres hurling in the famous World Series game and of Podres working with Philadelphia Phillies pitchers as a coach.

“It’s great footage,” Salerno said of the Philadelphia film. “This is the only place you’ll ever see it. The Phillies made the tape and sent it to me.”

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 team was immortalized as “The Boys of Summer.”

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.

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