It's mid-afternoon on Saturday and Diethrick Park is empty, except for a couple of vehicles in the parking lot.
As local historian Greg Peterson and I chat at our cars, we look toward one of the main gates and it dawns on us that we have a Kodak moment in the making. For there, before our very eyes, is Russell E. Diethrick Jr., locking up the ballpark that bears his name.
Fitting, I thought, because in a metaphorical way, "Mr. Baseball" - along with Peterson, WJTN radio personality Jim Roselle, Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame president Randy Anderson and Hugh Imus - had just locked away another memory on Falconer Street.
Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame president Randy Anderson, right, shows Dick Berardino his old Jamestown Falcons jersey from 1969. Bernardino was a coach all those years ago.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
We had Dick Berardino to thank for that.
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Berardino is a baseball lifer, a man who is currently a player development consultant for the Boston Red Sox, an organization he has worked for the last 45 years. Along the way, he has served as a former minor league outfielder; a longtime minor league manager and coach; and a bullpen and third-base coach for the Red Sox big club for three seasons.
But the reason Berardino, now 75, was in town was two-fold: The first was to share his memories of his three-year stint he spent in Jamestown as a coach with the Jamestown Falcons (1968-70) and the second was to be part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Falconer native Hugh Bedient's heroics in the 1912 World Series.
Berardino was among about 50 people who turned out for a banquet Saturday night at the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown.
"One of the reasons I came back here to do this was because of the treatment that me, my wife and (children) had while we were here,'' Berardino said. "Everybody did everything to make us comfortable.''
He more than returned the favor during an entertaining, hour-long interview in the Jamestown Jammers clubhouse inside Diethrick Park. Responding to questions from me, Peterson, Diethrick and Roselle, Berardino, who would later speak at the Jackson Center, touched on a career that began in the late 1950s and continues to this day.
But one of his favorite stops was in Jamestown.
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In 1968, his first year in our community, Berardino was a coach and worked under manager Jackie Moore. Among the players on the roster that summer were Ben Oglivie and Cecil Cooper, who would later go on to have fine Major League careers.
"Most of the kids in the first year are a little nervous,'' Berardino said. "They have anxieties but Cecil was good. They were all great kids and I enjoyed working with them and developing their skills.''
That was only natural for the Cambridge, Mass., native, who spent 23 years in public education with thousands of baseball games thrown in for good measure.
Along the way, he managed Hall-of-Famers Wade Boggs and Jim Rice, played on the same minor league team with former Yankees Jim Bouton and Joe Pepitone and earned two World Series rings from the Red Sox championship teams of 2004 and 2007.
"I was sitting home watching (the final World Series game in 2004) with my wife, Kathy,'' Berardino said. "I was just excited because I guess I figured I'd end my career and have no World Series (ring). A lot of New Englanders after that went to the graves of our grandfathers and fathers with Red Sox pennants and stuck them over their graves.''
Berardino did that task as well to honor the memory of his late father, who came to the U.S. from Italy when he was 3.
"He encouraged me and he was one of the reasons I got a chance to play ball,'' Berardino said. "He loved the game.''
So imagine Berardino's thoughts in 1989 as the newly appointed bullpen coach stood for the national anthem at Yankee Stadium before the Red Sox took on the Bronx Bombers. After all those years - at that point it was more than 30 - he had finally made the big time.
"(My dad) never saw me in the big leagues and I thought of him that day,'' said Berardino, trying unsuccessfully to hold back tears. "I thought of him that day."
He excused himself for his momentary loss of composure, but all of us understood.
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Berardino's talk at the Jackson Center capped an evening - an entire year, really - of events celebrating the accomplishments of Bedient, who was born in Levant and went to school in Falconer.
To that end, Bedient's grandchildren - Imus, and Tom, Pam and Candy Ames - were in attendance and were treated to a video on their grandfather's heroics a century ago.
Meanwhile, Diethrick presented Imus and Ames with a bat, courtesy of the Superior Bat Company, to commemorate Bedient's recognition as the 1912 Rookie of the Year by the Society of American Baseball Researchers. The Bedient family then presented a photograph of the 1912 Red Sox team to the village of Falconer.
All that was followed by Berardino's entertaining talk.
When Berardino was through, Anderson presented the guest speaker with several gifts, including the actual Falcons' jersey he wore in 1969, which was found among bags of old jerseys that Diethrick had kept at his home all these years.
The number on the back?
No. 1, naturally.