World-champion Syracuse Senior Cyclones grieve their star outfielder
At an Oct.19 ceremony, the Syracuse Senior Cyclones Softball Team will receive a Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame 2009 Team Recognition Award.
But one of their star players won’t be there.
Outfielder Tony Maiurino died suddenly Dec. 30, 2008, at his Liverpool home. He was 71.
Tony enjoyed boating, skiing and golfing but — most of all — baseball. As a teenager, he pitched for North High School and later for Syracuse University.
More recently, he played senior softball here and in Florida before joining the Syracuse Cyclones club that won the 2008 Senior Softball World Series in Phoenix, Ariz.
The team, comprised of local men ages 60 and older, is coached by Jack Haggerty. Since 2001, the Cyclones have slugged, fielded and pitched their way to more than a dozen national and world championships
“I think Tony was among the best all-around senior ballplayers in country,” said Cyclones infielder Dick Lowenberg. “He had wonderful speed, a great glove, and he worked harder on his hitting than anyone I’ve ever known.”
Tony’s sister, Jeannie VanAlstyne, agrees. “He put everything into getting better on the ballfield,” she said. “He played softball so many days a week I couldn’t keep track of him.”
Because foot-speed was his forte, Tony often served as a “substitute runner” for his teammates.
“He was a remarkable base runner,” Lowenberg said. “He was skillful, aggressive and fast and his base-running resulted in a lot of runs that a lot of other people wouldn’t have gotten.”
A lifelong N.Y. Yankees fan, Tony was a stockholder of the community-owned International League entry, the Syracuse Chiefs. A former General Electric engineer, Tony also owned Big Bay Marina on Oneida Lake.
In his published obituary, the list of his survivors included “a large family of softball players.”
The Cyclones will be honored at the 23rd Annual Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame Induction Dinner on Monday, Oct. 19, at the Holiday Inn on Electronics Park in the town of Salina. Founded in the late-1970s as a co-ed team, which played across New York State, the Cyclones became an all men’s team for athletes ages 60 and older in 1980. Before long, the ball club began barnstorming around the world.
“The Senior Cyclones became known as Syracuse’s goodwill ambassadors wherever they traveled,” said Sports Hall of Fame spokesman Joe LaGuardia. The team has played in competition and tournaments throughout the U.S.A., Canada, Japan, Mexico and Great Britain.
The Cyclones never have any trouble filling positions on the diamond. In fact, the ball club has attracted so many players that it now fields several different teams designated by age — 60 years, 65 years and 70 years.
Like their meteorological namesake, The Cyclones routinely whip around the country. They’ve played championship games in Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Seattle, Phoenix, Raleigh, Winnipeg, Canada and St. George, Utah. Cyclones teams have won championships in all age categories.
“Keeping the softball tradition going strong for nearly 30 years has been a true testament to the dedication, hard work and desire demonstrated by the many athletes who have played for the Cyclones,” LaGuardia said.
The hall’s 2009 inductees also include Larry Kimball, Keith Moody, Beth Mowins, John Sherlock, Kris Terrillion and Edmund Dollard.
Tickets for the Oct. 19 induction dinner cost $60 per person. For info, call Bill Motto at 657-3718.