Joe Hesketh - Major Leaguer
As a senior at Hamburg's Frontier Central, the talented southpaw was rated among the top high school pitchers in the area, but Frontier was beneath the radar of college scouts, and Joe received little exposure to or attention from recruiters from big-name baseball schools. This "problem" was a blessing in disguise for Hesketh, for it led him to the University of Buffalo and legendary coach Bill Monkarsh, who, between 1964 and 1980, produced nearly 50 players who signed pro contracts. Hesketh and others recall that the Monkarsh approach featured a strong work ethic and slavish devotion to the fundamentals, an approach that turned young flamethrowers into savvy pitchers. In Hesketh's case, the results were spectacular.
Hesketh developed into the ace of the Bulls' staff, a starter and reliever who gave his team the best his left arm had to offer in every situation. Joe's college career featured a UB-record 10 complete games among 25 started, an overall ERA of 1.77 (0.91 his junior year), and highlights such as an upset win in Miami in the NCAA Division I playoffs against a ranked Hurricane squad, and a 4-0 shutout of baseball power St. John's and its ace (and future major league star) Frank Viola.
These exploits helped earn Joe 1980 ECAC New York-New Jersey District Player of the Year honors. While college scouts had earlier failed to spot this diamond-in-the-rough, at this level of competition, the pro scouts took notice, and Joe was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1980.
Hesketh's road to the "show" was a difficult one, but after three years of toiling in the minors, his 1984 season at Indianapolis (12-3, 3.05 ERA, American Association Pitcher of the Year) opened the door. Joe made the big club in 1985, and made an immediate impact with Montreal. For most of the summer, it appeared he would battle Cincinnati's Tom Browning for National League Rookie-of-the-Year honors. Joe was 10-5 with a sparkling 2.49 ERA in late August when a home-plate collision with Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia broke his leg and ended his season.
Hesketh never again reached that level with the Expos, and after several discouraging, injury-plagued seasons, appeared headed for early retirement when the Boston Red Sox called. Joe rewarded the Sox' faith with a 12-4 record and 3.29 ERA in 1991, and was feted with the annual Tenth Player Award by Sox fans, only the second time in eighteen seasons that a pitcher had been chosen.
In 2002, Joe Hesketh received the accolades from hometown fans with a well-deserved induction into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
Joe Winkelsas - Major Leaguer
Biography: Joe Winkelsas drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1994. Led NCAA division II baseball with a 1.29 ERA in 1996. Signed with the Atlanta Braves in 1996 and played at all levels within their organization. Led the Atlanta Braves organization with twenty-two saves in 1998. Among the league leaders in ERA in 1997, 1998, and 2002 with the Braves minor league affiliates. Selected to the Maryland Fall League All-Star Team (AA) in 1999. Made Major League Baseball debut on April 10, 1999 with the Atlanta Braves. Pitched for the Charlotte Knights of the International League. Played (AA) baseball for the Milwaukee Brewers where he was top ten in the organization in ERA. Pitched for the (AAA) Nashville Sounds of the Pacific Coast League. Pitching Coach for Niagara University. Pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers Major League Club. Joey Winkelsas has an outstanding ability and gift to gain one’s trust and commitment. His Dominican style type work-outs have turned out some of the best talent locally, nationally, and internationally. His communication skills and sense of humor are second to none, which provide a free and relaxed learning atmosphere. Building character in characters, one pitch at a time.
A native of Niagara Falls, NY - Eric played his High School Baseball there. Named an Honorable Mention on the All WNY Team, Diamond King Top 100 Prospect and Most Outstanding Player on the Inferno Showcase Team. Played Collegiately at the University at Buffalo under Bill Breene and Ron Torgalski. Set standards for Walks and Runs in a single game and second in Steals in a season. Was part of the most successful UB team (2009) since joining the Mid American Conference. Holds a degree in communications and is pursuing a career in Professional Independent Baseball.
Niki pitched for Lakeshore High School where she won Most Valuable Player and led the Lady Eagles to the only appearance at the Section VI finals in its history. Niki then attended Tompkins-Cortland Community College where she served as a captain and also won most valuable player honors. She led TC3 to its first ever appearance in the MSAC finals and still ranks in the top 3 at TC3 for most wins (Season and Career), best ERA (Season and Career), most strikeouts (Game, Season and Career), Shutouts (Season and Career) as well as most RBI’s. Niki finished up her career at Buffalo State where she posted career totals of batting average of .275, slugging percentage of .363, and an ERA of 2.61. Niki is currently pitching coach for Sweethome High School and has performed as an assistant coach and instructor for the WNY Sting.