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Collins' book on sports a novel idea

Jerry Collins has been a newspaper subscriber for 100 years. At least his latest book would convince you he has been.

Collins' lifelong love of reading and sports moved him to collect a large gallery of articles he found to be offbeat, quirky and of human interest. He turned his work into a 341-page paperback that covers more than 15 sports from the pros to high schools in Western New York. Collins' "best of" compilation is a quick-hit of parts of articles from every decade of the 20th century.

"On the Sidelines: 100 Years of the Best in Local Sports Reporting," devotes plenty of space to Little Three basketball, MUNY baseball and local greats such as Warren Spahn, Jack Phillips, Ilio DiPaolo and Hank Nowak. But he said his work would not have been complete without including articles on a passion of his, high school sports.

"I could remember so many of these things when they happened. High school has always been important to me," he said. "I've maintained many good friendships with many of these people. I've told many people I'd much rather go to a high school game than a pro game -- the great spirit and great enthusiasm."

Collins is a retired social studies teacher who spent a combined 35 years in the City of Buffalo and Maryvale school systems. While at Maryvale it's no surprise he developed a local history course.

"On the Sidelines" is Collins' third book. He's also published: Buffalo, Queen City of the Great Lakes and When Boxing Was Big in Buffalo, 1881-1951.

Collins dedicated the book to his five grandchildren, hoping someday they'll share his passion for sports.

The book is available for $25 at: The Book Worm, 34 Elm St. in East Aurora, by e-mailing: or or calling 683-6199.

Some excerpts:

"It looked like the Canisius-St. Joe's basketball game was headed to overtime when Dick Rahill missed a halfcourt shot at the buzzer. Unfortunately for Canisius, Rahill was fouled and he calmly went to the line and won the game for St. Joe's."

-- Buffalo Courier-Express, Jan. 10, 1952.


"Cardinal Dougherty sophomore speedster Gary Quatrani was hoping to run a sub 10-second 100-yard dash on St. Francis' new all-weather track. Officials were shocked when he was clocked at 8.9 and 9.2 on two of the watches. It was then discovered the course had been marked incorrectly and it was only 89 yards long."

-- Buffalo Evening News, May 24, 1974.


"Joe Mikulewicz was one of the greatest athletes in St. Francis history, an all-star in baseball, basketball and football. He hit one of the longest home runs in high school history, a 425-foot shot against Ryan. Rev. Rufinus Niedwiecki found the indentation in the ground and measured off the distance."

-- May 2, 1951.


"When John Lakso made his first varsity start as a freshman for Fosdick-Masten, he made it quite a memorable event. The right-hander pitched the first perfect game in the history of the Buffalo Public School system."

-- Buffalo Evening News, May 17, 1951.


"How popular was high school football in the city of Buffalo? Despite a day-long, steady rain that turned the field into a quagmire, 8,879 people turned out to see Bennett and Technical play to a scoreless tie."

-- Buffalo Courier-Express Nov. 21, 1941.


"The Junior Super Bowl Association had selected Jules Yakopovich's 1969 Kenmore West football team as the mythical national champions."

Buffalo News, Sept. 29, 1994


"The dropkick was reborn at Clarence in 1956. Bucky Walters, the Clarence quarterback, dropkicked two extra points in their 20-6 win over Eden."

-- Buffalo Courier-Express, Oct. 14, 1956.


"Since there were a limited number of Catholic High Schools and City of Buffalo schools, Canisius played in the Harvard Cup in the early 1920s."

-- Buffalo Courier-Express, Oct. 2, 1921.


"Charlie 'The Tuna' Chapman, a former member of the Lafayette High School swim team, became the first African American to swim the English channel."

-- Buffalo Evening News, Aug. 26, 1981.


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