Fifty-five years ago, however briefly, the Syracuse Chiefs minor-league baseball club was affiliated with the brand new National League franchise, the New York Mets.
Last week, the Mets announced that, pending approvals, they’re buying the Chiefs and will begin fielding their top minor leaguers here starting in April 2019.
Chiefs General Manager Jason Smorol, a Liverpool resident, said the Mets reached out to the local International League entry about a year ago. Back in 2009, the Mets considered Syracuse but eventually put its Triple-A operation in Buffalo for a couple years. The Mets’ current Triple-A team is the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League.
The Chiefs have been community-owned since 1961, when they were the top farm club of the Minnesota Twins. Smorol said the sale to the Mets represents a natural evolution.
Chiefs fans fondly recall the years between 1967 and 1977, when the Chiefs were affiliated with the locally popular New York Yankees. Three of the Chiefs’ eight International League championships were won during the Yankees era, in 1969, 1970 and 1976.
The Mets aren’t the Yankees, but it is a Big Apple baseball team, one sure to generate more interest here than the current Syracuse parent club, the Washington Nationals.
Meanwhile, as Major League Baseball playoffs continue, let’s go Yankees!
Two of our area’s most marvelous music men passed away during the first week of the month. On Oct. 6, pianist Tony Riposo died at age 92, and he was followed into eternity on Oct. 7 by conductor John Wilkie, also 92.
Thousands of Central New Yorkers first got to know Tony’s keyboard work in the late 1950s when he portrayed Twinkle the silent, piano-playing clown on “The Magic Toyshop,” which aired over WHEN-TV (now WTVH-TV). Riposo, the older brother of longtime Liverpool High School music educator Joe Riposo, eventually became musical director for the McGuire Sisters and moved to Las Vegas where he became music director at the Tropicana and later The Desert Inn where he enjoyed working with artists such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.
John Wilkie, who lived in Liverpool for many years, became a music teacher for the Syracuse City School District in the late 1940s. He taught for 33 years at Eastwood and Henninger high schools and also helmed the All-City Band and the Syracuse Parks and Recreation Jazz Band. John and his wife, Elaine, enjoyed many years of retirement on the golf course in Hobe Sound, Fla.
Although music and golf were John’s passions, he always remained active in the community as a member of the Liverpool Lions Club, Liverpool First United Methodist Church and the Liverpool school board.
His granddaughter, Lauren Wilkie, of North Syracuse, posted a warm remembrance of her grandpa. “He was forever a happy and joking man,” she wrote. “He always supported my love to play instruments, including the saxophone, drums, clarinet and most important, the violin. I will always remember our practice sessions, golfing nights and lovely family dinners. I thank him for being a great teacher, grandfather and patient to a future nurse. He showed me a hint of how my future will look in my career, although, he was one of the happiest and most special person I will ever care for.”
“Laugh every day. Laugh at everything. The things we all worry about, we can’t do anything about them. When we laugh about them, it makes life better for you and for everyone around you.” —Anastasia Ioannides, the materfamilias at Gardenview Diner, 650 Old Liverpool Road.
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