WATERTOWN RAPIDS PAY TRIBUTE TO BASEBALL LIFER WHO LEAVES WATERTOWN A LEGACY
Watertown, NY - Baseball scouting icon Tom “T-Bone” Giordano, whose death last week at 93 prompted tributes from many baseball greats, played an integral part in bringing spectator baseball back to Watertown in 1989. Watertown Rapids co-owners Paul Velte and Mike Schell counted Tom as a friend and recalled his influence on Watertown’s legacy of baseball. Giordano brought the Watertown Indians to town and helped spur the major renovation to the Alex Duffy Fairgrounds. The result has been almost 30 years of baseball entertainment at the Fairgrounds.
Spending 71 years in professional baseball as a player, manager, and as a brilliant baseball scout, Giordano is credited with helping discover and sign future Hall of Famer Cal Ripken with the Orioles, and Manny Ramirez with the Indians. He also held top scouting positions with the Rangers and Braves.
Rapids co-owner Paul Velte owned franchises in the New York Penn League for many years. Velte said “With the loss of a great baseball person Tom Giordano this week, it will be very hard to find another person like him. No matter what team or league you were with, Tom talked and treated you like he was your best friend.”
While working with the Cleveland Indians, Giordano became involved in the effort to bring minor league baseball back to the Alex Duffy Fairgrounds. Watertown had been abandoned by a Pittsburgh Pirates franchise and its absentee owners. City officials led by Mayor Tom Walker and local business owners led by Mike Schell were lobbying the New York Penn League and major league officials for another franchise.
The Indians were looking to locate a new franchise in the New York Penn League and sent Giordano to scout Watertown as a home for their new franchise. After Giordano visited the city and met Walker, Schell and others, he became an advocate for Watertown to Major League Baseball, the Indians management, and the NYPL leadership.
Schell, who became president of the Watertown Indians, said Giordano’s “Reputation and his relationship with baseball’s hierarchy were key to Watertown getting a new NYPL franchise, the Watertown Indians.“
Returning to Watertown on several occasions, Giordano helped to direct the renovations to the fairgrounds, advising the city architects and engineers on locating and building the bullpens and dugouts. He brought in famed Orioles groundskeeper Pat Santarone to help design and oversee the transformation of the playing surface.
Schell said “Baseball became a staple of the Watertown community as the Indians and the ballpark renovations influenced by Giordano paved the way for later collegiate and professional franchises from the Watertown Wizards to the present day Watertown Rapids.
“To this day the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds reflects the guidance of “T-Bone” Giordano, and we at the Watertown Rapids salute Tom’s memory and commemorate his contributions to Watertown baseball.”
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CALL MIKE SCHELL 315-778-1675
NY Sports Day