Frank Fonti sat at a picnic table near the visitor's bullpen at Diethrick Park on Thursday evening, a half-hour or so before the Jamestown Jammers were to meet the Lowell Spinners.
But he wasn't interested in talking about New York-Penn League baseball or even about his beloved New York Yankees. Rather, the 87-year-old lifelong Falconer resident had a story to tell about the road trip he took about a half-century ago with hometown and 1912 World Series hero, Hugh Carpenter Bedient.
The purpose of the excursion to Cleveland was to catch an Indians game at Municipal Stadium. Fonti, who worked with Bedient at Carborundum in the early 1960s, didn't recall the Tribe's opponent, but he remembered other, more important, details.
Above, Tom Ames, grandson of Hugh Bedient, throws out the first pitch before the Jamestown Jammers’ game on Thursday night to cap Hugh Bedient Day at Diethrick Park. Joining Ames in the pregame ceremonies are Bedient’s other grandchildren. Below, from left, are Hugh Imus, Hermes Ames, Pam Ames and Candy Ames.
P-J photos by Scott Kindberg
"Me and my son, Phil, Gerald Stimson and his son, Dan, and another guy from Niagara Falls, who was a foreman (at Carborundum) invited Hugh to go,'' Fonti said. "When we got there, (the Indians) acknowledged Hugh and what he did in the major leagues.
"It was an honor to be there with him. We treated him to the game. We knew what he had done."
Now, thanks to the efforts of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Falconer Public Library, Hollyloft Ski and Bike and Jamestown Cycle Shop, Bedient's accomplishments, which included winning 20 games as a Red Sox rookie and outdueling Hall-of-Famer Christy Mathewson in Game Five of the 1912 World Series, are again in the news.
Nearly 1,500 fans turned out at Diethrick Park on "Hugh Bedient Day" not only to watch the Jammers - they lost, 4-2, to Lowell - but the crowd also witnessed a pregame ceremony in which Bedient's grandchildren were recognized, highlighted by grandson Tom Ames' first-pitch fastball to another grandson, Hugh Imus.
"He caught the outside corner,'' Imus said. "I didn't even have time to set up. He just fired it. He knew what he wanted to do.''
Ames said he had had tossed the ball around for 30 minutes earlier in the day with former legendary Falconer Central School baseball player Joe Mistretta, because "at 50 years old, you don't play catch every day.''
And despite some good-natured ribbing from his brother, Hermes, sisters, Pam and Candy, and a few friends - "They were sending me text messages, 'You've got a 1 in a 100 chance you'll throw a strike' and 'You've got a 1 in 5 chance you're going to bounce it in.'''
But practice made perfect, which was a metaphor for the evening, the second of three Bedient events planned this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Boston Red Sox World Series championship.
See BEDIENT, Page B4
"It's fun to do these kinds of events and to get the community involved,'' said Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame president Randy Anderson. "I'm just pleased we're doing it and we're looking forward to the Hugh Bedient banquet we're going to have in October.''
That event, scheduled for Oct. 20, will be held at the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown.
NOTES: Louise Boutwell of Randolph was also part of the pregame ceremony. Her grandfather, Ray Collins, was a teammate of Bedient's on that 1912 Red Sox team. Local sports historian Greg Peterson, who was the master of ceremonies, was a Little League teammate of Imus in the early 1960s. "I can very distinctly remember (Bedient) coming to our games," Peterson said. "I can also remember him coming to (to Municipal Stadium) when there was an Oldtimers Night. Hugh, Swat Erickson, Ray Caldwell and Leon Carlson were all here and I ran around getting autographs.'' Fans received a commemorative baseball card outlining Bedient's major league career, courtesy of the Community Foundation. Game-day sponsors included Blackstone, the Community Foundation, the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, Falconer Little League, Falconer Public Library, Fancher, G.A. Family Services, Jamestown Jammers, Jamestown Oldtimers Baseball and Weber Knapp Company.