Western New York Baseball Hall of Fame: Hurler Stamer joins West Herr teammates with recognition
His precision pitching made the Hamburg native such a valuable member of the Lake Shore West Herr Mustangs during its championship years in the 1970s and has helped him become the fifth person associated with the team during that time to be inducted into the Western New York Hall of Fame.
Stamer, a 1971 Frontier High School graduate who lettered in football and baseball, will be a part of the Class of 2012 celebrated on Sept. 19 at the Lake Erie Italian Club in Blasdell.
“I have always been very proud to be a member of the West Herr Mustangs and just as proud to know I was one of the main pitchers those championship teams turned to,” said Stamer, who was an 11-year member of the team, which won eight straight Lake Shore Division titles from 1972 to 1979, then moved on to win six Twilight League titles and five all-around league titles during those years.
“The nucleus of this ball team stayed together,” he added. “We were like a family and were best of friends. We were all committed to playing our best. When we went out there, we expected to win and our records were always phenomenal.”
After beginning to play for the Mustangs while pitching for Brockport State College, Stamer became a leader on a team that reached a high level of dominance in the Buffalo Evening News Suburban League. He won nine to 10 games in each season he pitched, played in six all-star games and racked up 16 playoff game wins, including nine in title games.
He credits the advantage he held over most hitters with throwing strikes, his intensity and an ability to outthink a batter. Stamer could get the ball over the plate with an array of breaking balls, change ups and sliders. He changed speeds effectively which gave his fastball sneaky zip and made it just as difficult to hit.
“I’d like to say I was a power pitcher but my greatest asset was control,” said the recently retired physical education teacher and former coach at Frontier. “I would always hit the glove. There were championship games when I wouldn’t walk a batter. I was always thinking the game, as well as playing it.”
While Stamer enjoyed some big seasons on the mound, one year winning 14 games, he acknowledged the Mustangs would not have enjoyed the same success if not for the athleticism of many their players.
The talented Mustangs distinguished themselves from competitive rival teams such as Lake View, West Seneca, Boston and Orchard Park. Stamer remembers fondly playing some of those teams in tough nine inning games on Sundays and in the playoffs in front of 500 to 600 spectators.
“Everyone played their position exceptionally well and the depth of the hitting went at least six or seven hitters deep,” Stamer said. “Where most pitchers would only have three or four tough hitters to face, there was no relief for other pitchers when facing our lineup.”
The depth of West Herr during the 1970s shows in the number of those players now in the Hall of Fame. Stamer will join shortstop Jim Barbati, second baseman Rob Cooper, left fielder Bucky Dietz and center fielder Ed Lewis. Also in the Hall of Fame is Sam Gallineau, the team’s manager from 1972 to 1979.
“There are other guys from that team who should also have the criteria to get in, too,” Stamer noted.
After graduating in 1975 from Brockport State College, where he played on the baseball team for all four years, Stamer also enjoyed a distinguished career in coaching. While working in the Frontier School District for 37 years, he served as the high school’s assistant varsity football coach for Section VI championship winning teams in 1980 and 1984 and was head coach of the varsity baseball team for eight years. He also earned ECIC Division titles heading the boys and girls varsity tennis teams.
In addition, he led a Lake Shore CEBA team to a division championship and later, a Hamburg CEBA squad to the State Tournament. The ages 13-14 Hamburg team went on to finish third in state competition.
Stamer and his wife, Debbie, have two children, a son, Steve Jr., and daughter, Liz.