Cyclones: Superannuated softballers celebrated

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."

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