Four to be inducted at Hall of Fame dinner

AMSTERDAM – The Amsterdam Mohawks and the Amsterdam baseball community will honor its history, both recent and distant Feb. 2 as the Mohawks induct two players and two community members into the Amsterdam Baseball/Mohawks Hall of Fame at the St. Mary’s Institute.

Former New York Mets and New York Yankees starting pitcher Dwight Gooden will be the keynote speaker at the event.

Gooden finished his career with a 194-112 record, and earned three World Series rings, one with the Mets (1986) and two with the Yankees (1996, 2000). Gooden was scheduled to speak at the dinner two years ago, but was replaced late by Ron Darling.

The Mohawks will induct Vince Riggi (University of Richmond) and Mark Leiter Jr. (N.J. Tech). The Amsterdam community will induct Steve Porcello of Amsterdam Little League and Dan Saullo, a player at Amsterdam High School and Siena College.

Leiter, a native of Lanoka Harbor, N.J., and the son of former Major League pitcher Mark Leiter, played the last two seasons for the Mohawks and won Game 3 of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League’s semifinal series Aug. 6.

He is the all-time strikeout leader in Mohawks history and a first-team PGCBL all-league selection in 2011, a season where he went 4-3 with a 2.67 ERA and struck out a league-high 74 in 64 innings. He returned to the Mohawks last season, helping them to the PGCBL championship, going 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA.

Leiter is a senior at New Jersey Tech.

“He was so well loved when he was here,” Mohawks president/general manager Brian Spagnola said. “When someone nominated him, we knew he was going to go in at some point, so we decided to induct him even though he was just here.”

Riggi, was a three-year Mohawk and trailed only Bo Durkak in career games played for the team. Riggi played for the Mohawks in 2004, 05 and 06 and hit .277, .235 and .291 respectively during each of the three seasons.

One of the highlights of his three seasons with the Mohawks was a ninth-inning grand slam against the Glens Falls Golden Eagles in 2006.

Porcello, a lifelong city resident, has been involved with the Little League for 35 years, starting as an assistant coach at 15 years old in 1975. He managed a team at 17 years old and three years later became the league’s youngest president. He became league president again between 1986 and 1994 and oversaw many changes to the league and upgrades at Isabel’s Field, a news release said. He was named Head of Umpires in the 1990s and continues to umpire.

“That’s a long time to give to the kids,” Spagnola said. “As everyone knows, Little League is all volunteer.”

Saullo was a three-year starting center fielder for Amsterdam High School in 1985, 86 and 87 and was a three-time Big 10 conference selection. He hit more than .350 each season under Amsterdam/Mohawks Hall of Fame coach Brian Mee. He had a .430 batting average as a senior. He also won Amsterdam High School’s U.S. Army Reserve’s national scholar-athlete award in 1987.

After graduating from Amsterdam High School, he moved on to Division I Siena College, where he hit more than .300 in three of his four seasons and finished in the top 20 in school history with a batting average of .307. He was a first-team all-star in the Metro Atlantic Athletic conference and made the MAAC All-Academic first team as a junior and senior. He was an honorable mention Academic All-American all-star as a senior. He also was Siena’s most outstanding male scholar athlete in 1991.

Spagnola said Saullo was the last Amsterdam player between 1987 and Tom McDermott in 2007 to play Division I baseball.

“The teams he played for with Siena were really good teams,” Spagnola said.

Tickets to the event will cost $45 and include dinner. The cocktail hour will be from 5 until 6:30 p.m., a time also set aside for a silent auction. Gooden also will be signing autographs during that time.

A table of 10 will cost $400 and a table of eight will cost $320. General admission seating, which does not include dinner, will cost $25.