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An Unforgettable Baseball Team And Season

Thirty years ago, this spring, 15 young men from Jamestown High School silk-screened an accomplishment on a banner which adorns the JHS gymnasium, telling everyone who visits that arena that they did something that hadn’t happened before, and hasn’t happened — but it will — since.

The members of the 1990 varsity baseball team at JHS presently own the theme of a Frank Sinatra song, which all of the young men on that season’s roster can proudly sing, “When I was (enter their age in ’90), it was a very good year…” In 1990, that very team earned its way to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final Four, and will take to their graves, the knowledge and pride, that they were the first baseball team in school history ever to get there.

Looking back, the team, which I was privileged to follow up close, actually had a decent spring to play ball in our area.

The weather was fairly cooperative, though colder at times than we would have liked, but the players didn’t seem to worry about it, because they came together, pardon the cliche, as a team, and worked hard together, with the goal of being what each yearly goal should be — being the best it could be that year.

One of the things remembered vividly about that group of young men, was that they supported each other without blinking an eye. I was also fortunate to have closely watched the 2013 softball team at Falconer, a team that had that very same quality, and made it to state regionals in, coming up one run short of reaching the states that season.

In both, 1990 and 2013, those teams (emphasize teams) came together, backed each other, “policed” each other, and may not have agreed with all aspects of the “plan” devised by coaches, but did what was asked, worked hard to exceed expectations, and literally took it one game at a time. Whatever the outcome, they put each game aside, then took on the next game without looking forward or back. One thing that repeatedly comes to mind is that the 1990 JHS team was the last group who seemed to play a lot of sandlot baseball, especially during summers, before getting to the high school level.

Travel baseball is very popular now, but sandlot baseball was a great teacher of the game, mainly because players were their own coaches and umpires. They had to strategize, make decisions and calls like coaches and officials; they had to learn to play together; come to decisions together;and work things out together. They got tons of swings, chances at fly balls, grounders and running the bases. Was it luck that brought them success in 1990? I think not! I think it’s because of what they started on those sandlots.

Members of that 1990 baseball roster for the Red Raiders were Jeff Bloomquist, Martin Boscarino, Mike Cady, Mark Grice, Mike Grobaski, Jay Henry, Curt Illig, Scott Larson, Steve Neubauer, Aaron Scoma, foreign-exchange student Sasha Staritz, Tim Strickland, Todd Terwilliger, Chris Vullo and Mike Whitehead. Assistant coaches were Craig Holcomb and Brent Brown.

“Where Are They Now” research found out where these young men are and what they’re doing in their lives today. After hearing from them, teammates, and/or family members, this is who/what/where they are now:

¯ Jeff Bloomquist attended Brown University after high school where he played football and graduated with dual concentrations in business economics and organizational behavior & management. After 22 years at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Jeff is now managing director for J.P. Morgan in Denver. He resides in Boulder, Colorado with his wife, Millie. They have one daughter, Isabella (16).

¯ Martin (Marty) Boscarino is living in Buffalo after having spent post-graduation (University of Notre Dame) time in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh. He’s a retina surgeon in Buffalo, making his home with wife, Molly, and children John (15), and Anne (10).

¯ Mike Cady is one of four players still living in the Pearl City, alongside his wife, Nichole. Mike is employed by the City of Jamestown in the Parks, Recreation, and Conservation Department. He is a tree trimmer and shredder.

¯ Mark Grice graduated from Jamestown Community College in 1993, joined the U.S. Air Force (1997), retiring in 2017. He’s returned to Jamestown and is currently a team manager on an assembly line at Cummins Engine. He has two children, a son (21) and a daughter (19).

¯ Mike Grobaski studied architectural engineering at Penn State, graduating in 1996. He worked in architectural engineering in the Mid-Atlantic from 1996 to 2011, and is now executive director for Kaiser Permanente National Facilities Services in Colorado. He’s married to Tracey Hausmann Grobaski (14 years), and they have three children, Caden (13), Noah (11) and Emma (7).

¯ Jay Henry is employed as an area director at Bags Inc., a company whose main goal is to make travel easier for industries, companies and travelers. The company provide online options for guests to check luggage, and get boarding passes, before traveling to the airport. Jay resides in Atlanta with his wife, Alexandra, and their two children. He enjoys watching his kids playing the game he played growing up.

¯ Curt Illig resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. After his JHS graduation in 1991, he attended Jamestown CC and Albany College of Pharmacy. He and his wife, Melissa, own and operate the White Oak Pharmacy/Drugstore in Garner, North Carolina, and operate their family farm where they board horses. They have two daughters and one son. Curt is also into running 5Ks and half-marathons. In 2017, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, reaching its summit.

¯ Scott Larson is living in New York City with his wife Claire and children Penelope (6), and Quinlan (3). He works on Wall Street for Oppenheimer Asset Management, managing 15 individuals in the Account Services Group. Scott still laces up his cleats for Sunday softball doubleheaders in Central Park.

¯ Steve Neubauer is married to Stephanie Nephew Neubauer and has two daughters, Kaitlyn (17) and Sydney (14). They live in Plano, Texas. Steve is a customer service Supervisor at Graybar Electric. He’s the manager of the Dallas Project Group. Graybar is a leading North American distributor of electrical, communication and data networking products, and a provider of supply chain management and logistics solutions. Steve enjoys golf and watching his girls play high school sports.

¯ Aaron Scoma played baseball at Jamestown CC and Fairmont State (West Virginia) College after high school. He started working at SKF in 1998 and is still there. He married his wife, Kim, in 2000, and son Nolan was born in 2002. Nolan followed in his dad’s footsteps and now plays on the JHS baseball team. Nolan has been coached by his dad in youth league and travel baseball.

¯ Sasha Staritz had never played baseball before coming to the United States, but loved the game, started a baseball league when he returned to his native Germany. When we made contact a few years ago, he had just “retired” from playing baseball, and was working for a company in Europe where he was responsible for handling multi-million dollar accounts.

¯ Tim Strickland is still living in the area, and has been working in his family’s longtime area business, Strickland Refrigeration. He and his wife, Lori, have two children, Madelyn (14), and Mara (11). Both girls are involved in athletics and Tim enjoys following them around watching their games and matches.

¯ Todd Terwilliger is co-founder and partner at The Ardent Companies, where he’s the head of residential real estate. In addition to real estate, his team also underwrote non-performing loan acquisitions and direct real estate investments across Realty Capital’s platform. He lives in the Atlanta area with his wife, Kendall Craig, and their two daughters, Tatum Rae and Kellan Stone.

¯ Chris Vullo studied at Appalachian State University and resides in Albemarle, North Carolina with his wife, Winona and two sons. Chris has flipped from player to coach, now working with his area’s local youth leagues, and all-star baseball teams.

¯ Mike Whitehead is a partner in the transaction group at Reese Meyer PLL. He is a practicing lawyer dealing with real estate, estate planning, estate administration, business transactions and corporate governance. He living is living in Granville, Ohio, with his wife, Heather, and their three sons, Sullivan, Shane, and Quinn.

¯ Coach Craig Holcomb, left Jamestown in the mid/late 1990s to become assistant coach for the Iona Gaels Division I College Basketball Program. During his time there, he was instrumental in recruiting Jamestown’s Maceo Wofford to the Gaels program where he played in the NCAA “Big Dance.”

¯ Coach Brent Brown has been teaching at Randolph Central School since the 1990s, where he served as the defensive coordinator for the state champion Cardinals’ program before becoming the head coach and guiding the Randolph team to state championships under his leadership. Coach Brown has also served as the assistant baseball coach for the Cardinals. He and his wife, Anita, have two sons.

Our man in the press box was also a huge part of our team that year. Bob Payne, who operated the scoreboard and told great stories of teams and players he’d seen over the years, unfortunately passed away a while back. He loved being in the “catbird’s” seat. He loved baseball and being a part of the JHS program. Gone, but certainly not, nor ever will be, forgotten.

There were members of the “Fourth Estate” who were part of that season too. Past Post-Journal sports editor, Jim Riggs (RIP), and current sports editor, Scott Kindberg, did a great job following the team and writing the story of these amazing young men. (Ask Scott sometime about the Wiffle Tree Inn.) Radio personality Mike Ferguson, who hosted a weekly half-hour Cable 8 TV sports program, also featured the ’90 Red Raider baseball team, and WJTN sports radio personalities Pete Hubbell and Skip Pierce painted a great picture of the success of that group of players with their play-byplay.

Last, but not least, was College Stadium groundskeeper extraordinaire, Tom Casler, who performed his magic in always having the field in immaculate playing condition, often performing miracles after some pretty nasty weather, allowing us to play on days other school teams couldn’t due to field conditions.

Back in the day when these young men were playing baseball, their lives were simpler. Yes, they had responsibilities in school, with studies, balancing sports schedules, maybe working a part-time job, and some involved with church/community groups to which they belonged. That seems like a lot, but what they’re handling today in their lives, is monumental compared to what they did in their high school days.

Mentioned in past Voice from the Bullpen columns, one thing we often said to our players was that 20 years from the time they were playing sports in high school, many people wouldn’t remember much about their sports careers from back then, but people would be impressed, or not, by the people they became. The information found on these young men has shown that their attitudes, and work ethic, from back then, paved their way to very successful lives 30 years later.

It’s a hope that if, and/or when, they come back to the area, they visit the JHS gymnasium, see the banner hanging there, and be proud of their accomplishment from 30 years ago. Take a picture of it, guys. Tell your family, friends, and especially your children, about that which you were historically part of in the pages, and on the walls of JHS athletics.

Gentlemen, it was, and still is, an honor to be able to say I coached you, but more importantly, that I know you.

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