January 16 – Happy Birthday George Sandy

sandy2Here’s an excerpt from my story about George which appears in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order a copy, click here.

The 1972 softball season was approaching. Shorty Persico had just sold his bar on Amsterdam’s Broad Street. That meant the new owner Pete Leggiero would now be sponsoring the popular establishment’s softball team, which I had been playing on for a few seasons. In addition to a new sponsor, the team needed a new pitcher because the one we used the previous season had gone on to another team. Leggiero told us he had secured his Uncle, George Sandy to pitch for our team. At the time I had no idea who George Sandy was. I knew there were like eighty Sandy’s living on Amsterdam’s South Side at that time and I knew that a bunch of Sandy brothers ran a popular Gas Station on Bridge Street but I had never met George Sandy. I realized why when he showed up at our first softball practice that season. This George Sandy was about to turn 56 years old.

My teammates and I just looked at each other as he shuffled out to the mound to throw some batting practice. George’s pitching motion was unique but not exaggerated. The most notable part about it was his backhanded release that caused a spin on the ball that none of us had ever seen before. Probably ten of us faced George that morning up at the Lynch four-corner softball diamond and I can count on one hand the number of line drives we were able to produce during that session. I can only compare it to what it must be like for a big league hitter to face a very good knuckleball pitcher. George probably went on to pitch ten games for our team that season and we won most of them, not because we scored a lot of runs in those contests but instead because George Sandy’s backhander prevented our opponents from scoring very many themselves…

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