In 2008 the Pawling Central High School Sports Hall of Fame was formed. Its purpose is to honor and perpetuate the memory of outstanding sports accomplishments, contributors or services by an individual athlete, coach, or team in the interscholastic athletic program of the Pawling Central School District.
This year, the Pawling Sports Hall of Fame will be inducting its first team, and next year will be the 40th anniversary of one of the best ball teams ever to take the field in Pawling High School history — the 1975 Baseball Team.
The 1975 Baseball Team was Bi-Valley Champions, Section 1 Champions Class C, Section 1 Open Champions Class B and C, Section 1 and 9 Regional Champions Class C and D. If there were state rankings in place in 1975, as there are today, this team would have been a strong candidate for State Champions. With a record of 20 wins and 6 losses, it took Class AA Champions Kingston N.Y. to end Pawling’s run.
The ‘75 team’s strength as with any great baseball team, was in its pitchers. Gavin Russo, Larry Jackson, and Clark Murray were three exceptionally good hurlers with very different pitching styles.
Team captain, Gavin Russo, was the ace of the staff with a tailing fastball most batters couldn’t see, let alone hit. Gavin’s Varsity High School baseball career record at Pawling was 20 wins and 5 losses from 73′ to 75′. Gavin never lost a league game finishing 15 and 0 in the Bi-Valley League. Gavin was All League, First Team, Most Valuable Player, and was named The Most Outstanding Baseball Player in Dutchess County in 1975. He continued his baseball career at Ithaca College and played professional baseball for the Newark Co-Pilots in the NY-Penn League.
Larry Jackson was another hard throwing right-hander. Larry racked up 25 wins in his three years playing Varsity Baseball and pitched a no hitter against Rhinebeck. Larry went on to have a successful college pitching career at Jacksonville University and Cornell University.
Clark Murray was the outstanding lefty on the squad and pitched varsity baseball for four years. After going 6 and 1 his sophomore year, he never lost a game his junior and senior years. Clark was 8 and 0 in ‘75 and set a league record striking out 19 batters in a no hitter against Millbrook. Clark had an unbelievable move to first base and was able to pick off runners at will. He was named All League in ‘75. Clark went on to Rollins College where he pitched against the Minnesota Twins. He struck out three Twins batters in two innings.
Not only did the 1975 Baseball Team have great pitching, this team played sound defense in the field. The all left-handed outfield was the league’s best. James Phillips was in right field. Jimmy was a good defensive outfielder and a great leadoff hitter. He was a natural hitter and his batting stance and swing is reminiscent of Rob Carew’s. Robert Manzino was in center field. Only a sophomore, Bobby was intensely focused and played smart. He hit the ball with authority and was always taking the extra base. Peter Muroski was in left. Pete had a good glove and a great arm, but couldn’t figure out whether he should be batting lefty or righty.
The infield was solid with sophomore Tim Nelligan ably manning the shortstop position. His brother Tom was a good fastball hitter. Tom’s quick bat provided spark from the right side of the plate. Eugene Donnelly was a smart, slick fielding third baseman, while Irwin “Bruddie” Coombs was a line drive hitter who played a steady second base. Bob Dumas, James Loper, and Dennis Bourdon provided strong depth around the diamond, with Jimmy being a valuable late-inning base running threat and Bobby providing a good bat as the fourth outfielder.
Carl Gilletti was the starting catcher on the ‘75 team. Carl moved from first base to behind the plate after all-star catcher Sal Mussella graduated in ‘74. Carl stepped up to the challenge and did an exceptional defensive job, called a great game, and had a good arm. Carl batted cleanup and was a clutch hitter who drove in many key runs. And who can forget the “Big Guy”, Howard Britton backing up Gilletti behind the plate.
Like all successful teams, the 1975 Baseball Team possessed unique team chemistry. For sure it was talented, but it also was well-prepared and fundamentally-sound thanks to the exceptional leadership from Coach Marco Sartori and his assistant Rick Vogel.
The 1975 Baseball Team along with individual sports standouts Kathryn O’Rourke, Taren Tanner, and Coach Catherine Senkier will be honored for their outstanding sports achievements at the 7th Annual Pawling Central School Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Wednesday, November 26th at the Pawling High School Gymnasium from 9:00 – 9:30 A.M.
A very special congratulation goes to the team I played on — the 1975 Baseball Team, the first team to be inducted into the Pawling Sports Hall of Fame.
Our High School Sports legacy lives on.
Pete and the Tigers