Bob Noto Sr. has been competing with, watching or coaching Amsterdam High School baseball players since the early 1970’s, when he himself was a member of one of the great AHS teams responsible for Brian Mee’s historic 53-game winning streak. I put my fellow Amsterdam West End native on the spot recently by asking him to name his Top Ten AHS Baseball Players. After pulling his hair out for a few weeks he came up with the following group. I too had the pleasure of watching most of these guys play the game and would put this group up against any other in AHS history. Thank you Coach Noto for sharing these gifted memories: (I’ve included the even number picks from Coach Noto’s Top Ten below. The other five, including Bob’s top pick will appear in my new Amsterdam All-Time Top Ten’s book to be released later this year.)
Oops! A few days after this post appeared Bob Noto e-mailed me to tell me he made a glaring omission from this list. As soon as he mentioned the name, I agreed that he had. Mike Tuman was the best all-around athlete in the Amsterdam High School Class of 1971. He was also one of the most unselfish, no-ego star athletes in the history of Amsterdam High School. He could have played any position on the AHS Football team and made all-league. Ditto for baseball but Brian Mee made the right call by putting him behind the plate. He was in my estimation one of the top three catchers in AHS history, right up there with Cliff Schwenke and Costa Lazarou. Tuman was so good behind the plate that his backup was Gary Tuck, a defensive catching wizard who went on to teach several big league all-star receivers how to become better catchers. The only time Tuck caught was when Tuman was pitching and Mike also happened to be the best pitcher on the Rams as well! Tuman went on to have a great career at U Penn but instead of taking a shot at the minors, ended up becoming a dentist instead!
2. Dennis Kaczor – Another former AHS Teammate of Noto’s, Kaczor was an amazing all-around baseball player who could hit, run, field any position and pitch with the best of them. He went 8-0 on the mound during Amsterdam’s 23-0 1974 season.
4. Sean Whitty – Another former AHS catcher, Noto coached Whitty and put him on this list because of his power-hitting capability, calling the kid the best hitting catcher he could remember.
6. Joe Hage – Another old teammate of Noto’s, Hage was a great all-around player with excellent speed and good power at the plate. He was also an outstanding tailback for the AHS football team. He ended up playing minor league baseball for a spell.
8. Thom Safran – Like his 3-sport teammate Flesh, Safran was extremely gifted when it came to sports. He was a smooth fielding shortstop and a very good hitter. He put together three great seasons of varsity baseball for Brian Mee from 1968-1970. His older brother Donnie was also an outstanding AHS shortstop a decade earlier.
10. Mark Haver – A smart, dandy-fielding second baseman with a really good bat. Haver’s AHS teams won his last 40 games as a varsity player. This photo shows the smile on Mark’s face on the day he and the rest of the Rams ended the 5-year-long Suburban Council’s hold on the Section II Baseball championship on June 6, 1973 by beating Shenendehowa 6-5!
Once a month, I send out a newsletter that includes a portion of the All Time Amsterdam Top Ten Lists I happen to be working on at the time. I will also use this monthly newsletter to announce the topics for upcoming Top Ten Lists and welcoming readers to put forth their own nominations for these compilations. If you’d like be included, please add your e-mail address here.