On Friday afternoon, Dunkirk baseball coach Frank Jagoda will get the chance to have his team square off against Cairo-Durham, a team coached by his former high school teammate and Dunkirk Class of 1977 alum, Tom Karnes.
It's a game that has taken a long time to get on the schedule.
"I've been in touch with Tom a couple of times about him coming this way or us going that way," Jagoda said. "But we were always going to Myrtle Beach, so we didn't have the time."
Left, Submitted Photo
Right OBSERVER?Photo by Gib Snyder III
The Dunkirk?Marauders and Cairo-Durham Mustangs will be playing at Doubleday Field on the grounds of the Baseball Hall of?Fame in?Cooperstown on Friday. Pictured at left are members of the Cairo-Durham varsity baseball team. They are, in front, from left, Kolby Phillips, David Gabrielsen, Justin Maldonado, Ridge Sulkey and Marty Margiasso. In back are Head Coach Tom Karnes, Chance Ryan, Justin Jump, Travis Herrick, George Pooters, Blake Murphy, Matt Mitchell and Assistant Coach Tom Corbett. Missing are Chris Zwoboda, Liam Gleason and Michael Panicola.?Pictured at right are members of the Dunkirk Marauders. They are, in front from left, Devaun Farnham-DeJesus, Jefrain Lopez, Edwin Carreras, Tyreek Ruiz, Troy Smith-Petrella, Randy Cooper and Gianni DeJesus. In back are Assistant Coach Eric Gloss, Nate Skubis, Nick Thompson, Sam Pepe, Zack Crandall, Juliam Fred and Head Coach Frank Jagoda.
With a trip to Myrtle Beach not in the works this year - it's the first time in seven years the Marauders won't be going south over spring break - Jagoda decided it was time to help his old friend fulfill two goals he had set before he decided to retire from coaching at the end of this year.
"He wanted to do two things before he retired," Jagoda said. "Play his alma mater and play at Doubleday Field. I thought it was a good opportunity to get that done."
Although the two had always wanted to have their respective teams play one another, the idea to play at Doubleday Field was all Karnes'.
"We always talked about playing each other," Jagoda noted. "But going to Cooperstown was his idea. I did some research around here and asked (Pine Valley coach) Chris Buczek about it and asked what he thought about the trip and the expenses and he couldn't say enough good things about it."
Jagoda also thought the trip would provide an educational opportunity for his team, as well as an opportunity to play a game at one of the most historic fields the game of baseball has ever known.
"We only have one kid who has gone there out of all the kids on the team," Jagoda said. "So it's going to be a good trip for us. It's a little more educational than going to Myrtle Beach.
"We're going to be getting a 75-minute guided tour, so the kids aren't going to be wandering around the Hall of Fame," Jagoda continued. "It's a structured visit."
Playing at Doubleday Field is something his team is also excited for.
"I know some of the players have looked it up and have said that it's a really cool opportunity," Jagoda noted. "I know I'm excited. I've only been to the Hall of Fame once. To me, it's more educational and it's a great thing for the kids to do.
"For the guided tour, I think it's a good opportunity for the kids to learn about the history of baseball from where it's been to where it is now," Jagoda continued. "And some of the things they'll remember and some they won't, but at least they'll get some history of the game."
The weather in Cooperstown on Friday is calling for temperatures in the mid to high 50's with a mix of sun and clouds. But the most important aspect of the forecast is there is zero chance of precipitation. And that's something the Marauders - and every other team in the area - have not seen a lot of this spring.
"I'd like to get a ball game in," Jagoda said. "It's supposed to be real good weather. And I think playing a game against a team that you don't really know anything about is another real good challenge. And then to package it all in with the trip to the Hall of Fame, it's going to be a real nice visit."
For Jagoda, the opportunity to coach against Karnes is something that is just as exciting as getting to play on the hallowed grounds of Doubleday Field.
"I think coaching against Tom is going to be pretty cool," Jagoda stated. "We played ball together on a very good team with a very good coach. And we've both coached now for a very long time."
Jagoda and Karnes played together in 1977 on a team that, at the time, set the school record for wins, as it won 21 games, including Sectional and Super Sectional titles.
"I was just a sophomore on that team," Jagoda recalled. "And Tom was a big part of that team and so were Mark Balzer and Billy Crocoll. And they took me under their wing and helped me out a little before the game, during the game and after the game."
Whether or not this year's rendition of the Marauders has what it takes to have the kind of success Jagoda and Karnes experienced back when they wore the maroon and white is yet to be seen. But Jagoda hopes that this trip is one more step in the right direction.
"I think the kids are excited," Jagoda said. "And I could see it over the last two days when they were talking about who would be riding in which van and who would be rooming with who. We're trying to find a putt-putt course to have our annual putt-a-bit tournament that they are looking forward to. I think it's going to bring a lot of bonding. We don't have a lot of guys with a lot of varsity experience, so I think getting away and spending some time with teammates, family and friends is going to be good for them."