October 1 – Happy Birthday Art Hoefs

2hoefsArt Hoefs had to be one of the busiest people in Amsterdam. At one time in the early 1960’s, my family lived next to his on upper Guy Park Avenue and I can attest to the fact that during those three or so years, the guy was almost always working.

He was born in Amsterdam, NY on October 1, 1917 and was raised on Caroline Street with his three brothers and a sister. He was a cheerleader with his classmate Isadore Demsky (aka Kirk Douglas) at Wilbur Lynch High School where he graduated in 1934. His youngest daughter Kim told me that he then attended Union College and studied journalism.

A talented percussionist, Art was a featured drummer in local bands all his life. He played with popular Amsterdam bandleaders like Dean Dale, Tony Brooks and Dusty Miller. Kim told me that her Dad also took classes at both the Columbia School of Journalism and Julliard School of Music and while in New York City, he worked for the New York Mirror newspaper and played drums for both Broadway and burlesque shows and also with the Gene Krupa Band.

During WWII, he was a member of the Army Air Force Band. After the war, he started his career in sports reporting first with the Schenectady Gazette before moving over to his hometown Amsterdam Evening Recorder in 1960, where he became the well-known and highly respected Sports Editor of that newspaper in ‘64.

Talk about a hectic schedule, on Saturday nights during the summer he could be found up at the half mile dirt oval known as Fonda Speedway where he served as the official timekeeper and the head of publicity during the glory days of that famed venue’s stock car racing. Art was also the head of publicity for NYRA for several years and every August, he’d make frequent visits to the Flat Track in Saratoga during the afternoon and once in a while he’d even meet Dean Dale at the harness track in the evening as well.

During the school year you’d find him in the press box at Lynch Field for Saturday afternoon Amsterdam High School football games and at the scorer’s table in the always-too-warm Lynch gymnasium for Tuesday and Friday night AHS Varsity basketball contests plus he’d follow both those teams on the road. He’d often times cover St. Mary’s and later Bishop Scully games as well. And he’d get up to Perth and Broadalbin and over to Fonda to cover the big games of those schools as frequently as he could.

So he’d spend his nights attending this area’s sporting events and his days at the Recorder offices writing about them, composing his weekly “Art of Sports” column and organizing the sports section for six editions of the Recorder each and every week. And don’t forget, he was still playing drums at various Amsterdam nightspots on weekends plus playing in the pit orchestra’s of at least a couple of Bert DeRose plays every year. On top of all that, he and his wife Gladys raised a family of six kids split evenly between boys and girls.

You had to wonder how on earth any person could keep up such a hectic pace for the over three decades he was at it. And he didn’t just go through the motions. Art Hoefs was very good at what he did. He knew every major scholastic sports figure within an hour’s drive of Amsterdam personally. He was on a first name basis with major national names as well, including the legendary thoroughbred trainer Hollie Hughes and several members of both the New York Yankee and New York football Giants organizations. He’s the guy who coined the legendary phrases “Fabulous Five” and “Rugged Rams” and his annual “Christmas wishes” column became one of the most popular Recorder-read features in the history of that paper.

The late nights, impossible deadlines, and rushed meals had to be a grind but you’d never know it by the end product Art turned out day after day, year after year. He kept right on going till he retired in 1978. They gave him a memorable roast at Bishop Scully to commemorate the occasion. Unfortunately, that retirement only lasted three years. His family buried him with his drumsticks probably because there was no room for his typewriter. It was an honor to be able to say that Art Hoefs was a friend of mine. He was an Amsterdam original.

This long-ago AHS athlete who became an expert in technology transfer was also born on October 1.

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