By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – What do you get Oneonta’s most beloved citizen, Sam Nader, for his 100th birthday?
How about a birthday message from his favorite football team?
“My father has held season tickets to the Giants since 1952,” said his son, John. “So my cousin’s husband got Eli Manning to record a video sending him a birthday message, thanking him for being such a long-time fan and recognizing everything he accomplished. It was very nice of him to do that.”
Manning was there in spirit, but over 100 guests, friends and family members were, joining Nader to celebrate his birthday on Saturday, July 6, in his backyard at 95 River St. “It was a fun, low-key celebration,” said John. “My father was enormously pleased.”
Sam turned 100 on Monday, July 8, which Mayor Gary Herzig declared “Sam Nader Day” with a proclamation, which he gave to Sam at the party, “in recognition of the ‘too many to count’ contributions … to the well-being of the people of the City of Oneonta.”
Also present was Kim Muller, longtime friends of the family, for a total of four mayors at the gathering.
In addition to the guests on hand, Sam also received video well-wishes from Don Mattingly and Trey Hillman, both of the Miami Marlins, who got their start with the Oneonta Yankees under Sam’s tenure.
“They both thanked my dad for helping them get started in their baseball careers,” said John. “It was so remarkable that they were able to get the video made. A number of my dad’s former players set cards and emails.”
John Fox, who served as the sports editor for Binghamton’s Press & Sun Bulletin, also attended. “He was great,” said John. “We were so happy he came to see my dad.”
Sam’s younger sister Jemele Mitrano came from Brooklyn for her brother’s party. “She’s in her 90s, but she won’t tell me exactly how old,” John said. “I know better than to ask!”
Though the forecast predicted storms, John said the skies held out for his dad. “We had a little rain, but otherwise, we had great weather.”
But the celebrations don’t end there. On Saturday, July 13, the 1969 Oneonta Yankees, who took the New York-Penn League title with a 51-26 game record, will celebrate their 50th reunion and celebrate their owner’s birthday.
Tem players and their families will be on hand to celebrate the anniversary. Sam is also planning to be in attendance, and Gary Laing, owner of the Oneonta Outlaws, will host Sam Nader Day at Damaschke Field. Admission to the game is free, and there will be birthday cake in Sam’s honor.