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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.

— 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 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.

Champ Day draws its named from the alleged Lake Champlain creature, “Champ,” that has been seen near Port Henry for hundreds of years. Crypto-zoologists think the creature, if it exists, may be a plesiosaur, a large under water reptile not seen since prehistoric times.

Champlain sighted “Champ” in July 1609 and described the creature as a “20 foot serpent thick as a barrel with a head like a horse.” Some believe that “Champ” is a large lake sturgeon.

In 1977, Sandra Mansi photographed “Champ” while she was having a picnic with friends. This is the best known photograph of the creature. This picture was published by Time and various other magazines. “Champ” has been featured on NBC TV's Unsolved Mysteries and Fox Network's Sightings, as well as on Japanese television and The Today Show. It has been the subject of books and hundreds of newspaper articles.

A “Champ” sightings board at the southern entrance to Port Henry on Route 9N lists the names of people who have seen the lake monster.

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