August 7, 2011

Moriah celebrates Johnny Podres Day

PORT HENRY — Johnny Podres was once called a "Yankee killer" — the pitcher defeated the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series.

That didn't stop Yankees fans from visiting the Lee House on Saturday to celebrate the local legend.

"I saw a lot of Yankee hats here (Saturday)," said Pat Salerno, Jr., who helped organize the first Johnny Podres Day and plans to make it an annual event.

He displayed his extensive collection of memorabilia from the career of the Witherbee-born Podres, who played Major League Baseball for 15 years, debuting with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953. Podres later served as a pitching coach for several clubs, including the Philadelphia Phillies. Podres kept close ties to the Moriah area until his death in 2008.

Podres' widow, Joni, was on hand Saturday, wearing her Phillies World Series ring and a pendant from a Dodgers' championship.

"We had so many from the community and all over the place that came in to see the memorabilia and the celebration of the town," Joni Podres said. "That's one thing that I always wanted the town to remember is Johnny Podres. So many people came today. It was wonderful."

Salerno said he met people from Brooklyn who were in the area and had heard about Johnny Podres Day.

The collection includes multiple jerseys, shoes that Podres wore, baseball cards and magazines with him on the cover, and many of the items are autographed. The items are usually spread between Salerno's house, his brother Tim's house and their parents' house.

Salerno has been accumulating memorabilia for decades, with the help of Podres. While Salerno was living in the Los Angeles area, Podres, then coaching, would give Salerno game tickets, take him in the clubhouse and introduce him to players.

"So I got to thinking, 'Johnny's so nice to me, I'm going to start collecting,' " Salerno said. "So I started collecting like 30 years ago, and my collection just kept getting bigger and bigger.

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