Joni Podres joins members of the Moriah Youth League baseball and softball teams after the Crown Point Memorial Day Parade May 26. Podres, the wife of late Witherbee native and Major League Baseball star Johnny Podres, donated the funds for the new team uniforms.
The members of the Moriah Youth Baseball/Softball majors division team had all worn the number 45 in the 2014 season.
Johnny and Joni Podres
John Joseph Podres was a pitcher for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres from 1951 to 1969. He finished his career with 148 wins and a 3.65 earned run average. Podres best regular season was an 18-5 campaign for the Dodgers in 1962, but it was his 1955 season, where he finished 9-10, which is his most famous, as he went 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in the World Series, earning the Most Valuable Player award in defeating the cross-town rival New York Yankees in a game seven, complete game shutout. Podres is immortalized at the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown, where a statue of him throwing a pitch to Dodger teammate and Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella.
After his playing career, Podres went on to be a pitching coach for the Minnesota Twins and Philadelphia Phillies, where he helped to develop another World Series hero in former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling.
Joni Taylor Podres was an accomplished athlete in her own right, performing as a member of the Shipstad and Johnson Ice Follies out of high school, making 22 stops across the country. As a child, she trained under the direction of Gus Lussi. She met Johnny in Los Angeles, and after his playing career they returned to the North Country, and she has been helping with local skating clubs since.
Each player has that number, along with the word, “PODRES,” inscribed on the top left side of the front of their jerseys, the number worn by hometown legend and 1955 World Series MVP Johnny Podres.
Those new uniforms, along with the ones being worn by players from pre-kindergarten through the sixth graders on the majors team, were purchased for the program by the widow of the late baseball pitcher and coach, Joni Podres.
“I have always strived to keep his legacy alive and wanted these kids to know that he was born in this small town and these kids can do the same things he did with hard work,” Podres said after joining the members of the youth league in the Crown Point Memorial Day Parade May 26.
“I want these kids to enjoy the uniforms,” she said. “Johnny would have loved this. I am overwhelmed by the kids that came out to the parade and wore their uniforms.”
Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said Podres had helped provide the youth who played for the town teams with a cherished memory.
“When you are a kid that comes out for baseball, the first time you put on that uniform is the proudest day of your life,” Scozzafava said. “To see that Podres name and that number on these jerseys is the best.”
For our community, this is a huge deal,” said Tim Garrison, league commissioner. “We wanted to put his name and number on the front of the jerseys to spark the questions that would lead to having the kids and even parents asking about who Johnny Podres is.”
Scozzafava said he felt Garrison’s goal had been met.
“I was very impressed by the number of kids that came up to get their picture taken with Joni and told her something they knew about Johnny.”