August 5, 2010 in Sports

Brush with team greatness

Joe Destefano Spokane
 

BACK ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT… ED ‘DUKE’ GAFFNEY,CF. JACK CODD, C. JERRY TERHAAR, P. JIM ETTER, 1B. BILL FRAZIER, 2B. KEN KIMBROUGH, 3B. JIM FLAHERTY, OF. PETE RILEY, P. COACH, FRANK GARCEA. ……FRONT ROW. LEFT TO RIGHT……..TOM DILUZIO, BATBOY. PAUL BIALLAS, OF. NICK AUGUST INF. OF. PAT CARROLL, OF. TERRY COSSETTE, P. JOE DESTEFANO, OF, INF. LARRY KOENTOPP, C. JERRY CONNORS, SS.
(Full-size photo)

Reading these past weeks of former legion players’ baseball experiences, some  memories of my legion baseball playing years were rekindled.

I played on the Gonzaga High School legion teams during the 1953, 1954 and 1955 seasons. We had two sponsors those years. The first two years the sponsor was Empire Furniture, which was owned by Frank Garcea who was also our coach. Our 1955 team was sponsred by Pepsi Cola.

In 1953 we played in the Washington State championship  game against Yakima in the Tacoma Tigers’ ballpark in Tacoma. We lost 2-1 and Yakima went on to win the National American Legion championship.

Although our ‘54 and ‘55 teams both played in the postseason, we never advanced beyond the regional playoffs.

As with all teams, we had some excellent players. Ken Kimbrough and Nick August played professionally, and several  played  played college ball. Jim Etter, Bill Frazier, Jr., Jim Flaherty, Ed ‘Duke’ Gaffney, Pat Carroll, Terry Cossette and Larry Koentopp played for Gonzaga University.

August played for the Washington State Cougars and  won all-american honors his senior year. Jerry Connors and Joe Destefano, played respectively, for the University of Montana and the College of Idaho.

Cossette pitched that state championship game in 1953 and was considered one of the top left-handed pitchers ever to pitch for  the Gonzaga University baseball teams.


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