Making Dad Proud
Son Of Former Falcons’ Pitcher Honored To Deliver First Pitch
A baseball in hand, Ted Wyberanec Jr. made his way from the third-base dugout at Diethrick Park to the pitcher’s mound prior to Monday night’s Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League contest.
Upon toeing the rubber, Wyberanec — emulating the windup captured in a photo of his late father, Ted Sr., from the early days of what was then Municipal Stadium on Jamestown’s east side — delivered a pitch to Tarp Skunks’ catcher Johnny Kampes.
“I threw it harder than I thought,” Wyberanec said. ” … It was a little inside.”
The effort, however, apparently impressed Jamestown manager Jordan Basile.
“I came off the field,” Wyberanec recalled Tuesday night as he enjoyed dinner at The Pub on Main Street in the city, “and he grabbed me and said, ‘Hey, we might need you later.'”
Like father, like son.
But the pregame ceremony wasn’t really about Wyberanec throwing strikes. It was more about paying tribute to his father, who pitched on that very same piece of real estate nearly 80 years ago as a member of the Jamestown Falcons. It was no wonder that Wyberanec’s eyes were misty as he took the field.
“If you notice, I get out there and the first thing I do is point up to the sky,” said Wyberanec, who was wearing a replica Falcons’ jersey and, of course, a Tarp Skunks’ cap. “(I was thinking), ‘Dad, you got to be here. It’s a perfect day. It’s like 78 degrees and this is your mound.'”
Back in the day, it sure was.
A Bronx native, Ted Sr. had a stellar college basketball career, but his baseball potential drew the interest of Jamestown owner Harry Bisegier, who brought him to Jamestown in 1942 where he played shortstop and third base.
After a three-year stint in the Navy, Ted Sr. returned to the Falcons in 1946 and was converted into a pitcher at midseason. The switch of positions turned out to be the right call as he finished with a 6-5 won-loss record and had the fifth-best earned-run average in the PONY League.
It was only the beginning.
In 1947, Ted Sr. posted a 15-5 record with a 2.60 ERA while also batting .329. After that season, he pitched in the International League, the Eastern League, the Big State League and the West Texas League before finally ending his pro career and returning to Jamestown.
But he wasn’t done playing ball.
In addition to managing and playing for Marlin-Rockwell and the Steel Partitions Bombers, Ted Sr. pitched for the touring House of David team for one season, during which he matched wits with the great Satchel Paige of the Harlem Globetrotters. In that game, Ted Sr. had the House of David in the lead until Paige came on and the Globetrotters ultimately prevailed, 3-2.
“My dad was one of the first few players to play (at what is now Diethrick Park) and he had good years,” said Wyberanec, who has a home in Florida, but has spent the last two summers in the Jamestown area. “I was able to play some baseball there (as a youngster) and I played football there. … That stadium has a lot of history. I grew up there. I was there every weekend. … To me, it’s hallowed ground.
Wyberanec has been there plenty this summer, too.
“We’ve been following the Tarp Skunks this whole season,” he said. “I love it. … I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere else in the summer. I want to come back every single summer. Why not?”
Wyberanec noted that his two adult daughters will be visiting Jamestown for the first time next week to help him celebrate his 60th birthday.
One of the first places he intends to show them is the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, because that’s where they’ll find a plaque and a photo of their grandpa, Ted Sr., who was enshrined there in 1990 for his baseball successes, especially those on Falconer Street in Jamestown.
Decades later, his son climbed the very same mound on a beautiful July evening.
“I went out and threw it well,” Wyberanec said.
Dad would have been proud.