Foursome inducted into Hall of Fame
AMSTERDAM — The 2019 inductees into the Amsterdam Baseball / Mohawks Baseball Hall of Fame were honored at a dinner on Saturday at St. Mary’s Institute.
This year’s inductees into the Mohawks Hall of Fame were Logan Darnell and Gary Henderson, while Robert Sise and Chris Yeager were inducted in the Amsterdam Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jesse Barfield, former Yankees and Blue Jays great, was the keynote speaker of the event.
The evening also had both a silent and live auction.
Amsterdam Hall of Fame
A lawyer by day and a hurler by night, Robert Sise somehow balanced two careers, a wife and a family as a pitcher for the Gloversville-Johnstown Glovers. Sise played third base while in school at Amsterdam and then Union College. His first year in the minors was in 1948 at Nyack in Rockland County, in the North Atlantic League. During the summers of ’49 and ’50, he stayed home, learning how to be a pitcher and played semi-pro ball in and around Amsterdam. The Glovers held spring training in Mayfield in 1951, where Sise started as a batting practice pitcher and then made the team. After a couple of solid relief outings, he was put in the starting rotation. Once Sise became a starter, he had an understanding with the team that he didn’t have to go to road games unless it was his turn to pitch. He had his own law practice, a wife and they were just starting a family. Sise started the season with a 6-4 record.
Then his wife, Theresa, got injured in a car accident, so he took a leave from the club to care for her and their young son. He returned to the Glovers, but only won one more game after that and finished the year 7-10. 1951 was the last season for the team and the Can-Am League. In 1960, Sise was elected to his first judgeship and then spent over three decades on the bench.
A 1997 AHS grad, Chris Yager was a two sport athlete, playing basketball and baseball. He was a pitcher, shortstop and captain for the Rams baseball team.
In his senior season, Yager led AHS to its first sectional win in 11 years and its first Section II Class A Championship game in 23 years. He was named MVP of the 1997 team, was selected to All Area Baseball first team and was runner up for Player of the Year. Yager went 7-2 in high school with a 1.19 ERA and hit .281.
At HVCC, Yager was a part of a baseball team that was ranked third in the Nation and helped them win a Conference Championship. He was named All-Region second team in 1999 and All-Region first team in 2000. He went 10-4 in college, with a 3.20 ERA and a .350 batting average.
Yager traveled the country playing for different teams and then went to Quebec where he signed as a reliever for the Sherbrooke Expos in the CPBL. In 3 seasons, Yager had an 8-2 record with a 3.67 ERA and went 3-0 in the playoffs. Yager still plays in the Albany Twilight League and threw a complete-game no-hitter two seasons ago at age 37. Yager became a coach in 2005 for Guilderland and the South Troy Dodgers. At Guilderland, the team has been in the sectionals in all 14 seasons with 2 Section II Class AA Championships and one Regional Championship, ending the year as the NYS Runner Up. Yager currently lives in Saratoga, he works in the family funeral business and has been a professional firefighter for 16 years.
Mohawks Hall of Fame
It was the summer of 2008 when Kentucky sophomore Logan Darnell, hailing from Joelton, Tenn., made his way to Amsterdam. Darnell was the ace of the Mohawks pitching staff that season. He went 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA and had a 1-1 playoff record as the Mohawks made it to the semifinals that season. Darnell was named an NYCBL All-Star and dazzled the scouts with his 95 mph fastball. In 2010, Darnell was the sixth round pick for the Minnesota Twins. He worked his way through the minors and made his Major League debut for the Twins on May 6, 2014, in Cleveland as he threw three perfect innings out of the bullpen. Also in 2014, Darnell was part of an unusual no-hitter for Rochester as he finished a game that was suspended due to rain 18 days later and pitched the final 6 innings to complete the 22nd no-hitter in Red Wings history. This past season, Darnell pitched for the Washington Nationals organization and has compiled a professional record of 82-70 with a 3.94 ERA in nine seasons.
College coaches use summer baseball teams as a way to develop their players, but they need to trust the teams they leave their players with will keep them healthy, provide a good experience and return them as better players. Prior to 2006, the Mohawks were mostly comprised of players from small schools, or they had local connections. That all changed when Brian Spagnola met Henderson, who was a coach for Kentucky at the time.
Since 2006, UK has sent 35 very talented players to Amsterdam. Ten of whom are still active in professional baseball today, including Luke Maile, who is in the Majors and Logan Darnell who also was honored Saturday. The success Kentucky players have had here has opened the door to the other big name schools who have sent players here and it has transformed the Mohawks into the powerhouse that it is today. Prior to the 2009 season, the Mohawks were in need of a coach, Henderson contacted Spagnola and recommended a recently retired junior college coach who might be a good fit.
After 10 years and six championships later, the hiring of Keith Griffin has worked out fairly well. Henderson has coached baseball for 30 years. Following Assistant Coaching stops at many schools including Cal. State Fullerton, Florida, and Oregon State, he became an assistant coach at Kentucky in 2003 and then was their Head Coach from 2009-2016.
In 2016, Henderson was hired as the pitching coach for Mississippi State. This past season, he was named the interim head coach and guided Mississippi State to Omaha where they advanced to the semifinals of the College World Series and then sent four more very talented Mississippi State players to Amsterdam.