October 6 – Happy Birthday Billy Bernat

bernat2Sometimes life isn’t fair. It certainly wasn’t on the afternoon of January 29, 1997, when 42-year-old Billy Bernat died shortly after being admitted to Albany Medical Center. I wasn’t a close friend of Billy’s but you didn’t have to be to like him anyway. He was a year behind me at Wilbur Lynch High School and he was always smiling and upbeat. He was a superb athlete in high school. I believe he made the varsity squads of all three major sports as a sophomore, which was incredibly hard to do. But his best sport was baseball. As a senior, Bernat was a left-handed starting pitcher for Brian Mee’s 1973 Class A Section II Champions. That was the first-ever sectional championship for Amsterdam baseball and it ended the Suburban Council’s dominance over the old Class A League in sectional play. Bernat was the mound ace on that very good squad. He went a perfect 7-0 that season and one of his victories was an amazing 11-inning complete game stint over Mt. Pleasant! He was also one of the team’s best hitters. That Ram nine finished the season with16 straight victories with Billy getting the win over powerhouse Shenendehowa in the championship…

You can read the rest of my story about Billy in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

 

2 thoughts on “October 6 – Happy Birthday Billy Bernat

  1. Played Rec Basketball with Billy in 1975 on a team with Rick Cetnar , Joe DiBasi, Greg Fisher , Mickey Eckert , Chris Sapia Etc . I am sure I have forgotten a couple . I started at one forward and Billy the other . With a line up like this we were just unbeatable for the first 16 games . Then when the playoffs started
    I got put on nights at the Arsenal and if memory serves Billy hurt his ankle . Also Mickey couldn’t make the last two playoff games because of work . I always felt that the loss of Billy who always guarded the other teams star and was a great rebounder and was what cost us the championship . Beyond that Billy was one of the nicest guys I ever met . He kept the team together with all of those diverse personalities and made us play as a team . He passed away way too young .

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