Frank Catalanotto and Jim Mecir, who grew up rooting for the Yankees, graduated from Smithtown East High School four years apart and had lengthy major-league careers, were among those inducted Tuesday night into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame.
"This is really a cool thing. It says a lot about youth baseball in Smithtown and our high school coach [Al Chandler]," said Catalanotto, who graduated in 1992 and hit .291 in 14 seasons in the majors. He played briefly last season with the Mets before retiring. "Pretty odd to have two guys from our little town make it."
Mecir, Smithtown East Class of 1988, made 474 appearances in 11 big-league seasons, all in relief, with a 3.77 ERA. Among his stops: 1996 and '97 with the Yankees. With little prompting, Mecir flashed his 1996 World Series ring. "I didn't get to pitch for them but I've got the ring," Mecir said. "I'm very fortunate. My first big-league game [for Seattle] was against the Yankees in 1995. I faced Don Mattingly. He went 0-for-2."
Catalanotto said Mattingly was his favorite player as a kid. "My Dad took me to see him play five times a year," said Catalanotto, a lefthanded hitter like Mattingly. "Whenever he changed his swing, I would change mine. I got to meet him when he was the Yankees' batting coach. What a great guy."
Catalanotto and Mecir faced each other twice in their major-league careers. Both recalled the outcomes: one hit and one strikeout.
The other inductees introduced at the Hall of Fame's annual dinner at West Lake Inn in Patchogue were: Eric Brown, Suffolk CC baseball coach; Donal Buckley, athletic director at St. Anthony's High School; Cathy Gallagher, former executive director of Suffolk High School sports; Jesse Jantzen, four-time state wrestling champion at Shoreham-Wading River and three-time All-American at Harvard; brothers Jeff and Scott Reh, soccer and lacrosse stars at Rocky Point and lacrosse stars at Adelphi; and Barbara Williams, the first female skating coach in the NHL who was the Islanders' power skating instructor.