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LORNE WATSON, WATER AUTHORITY SUPERVISOR, ATHLETE

Lorne C. "Fuzz" Watson, one of West Seneca's best amateur athletes, died Tuesday (Dec. 23, 1997) in Our Lady of Victory Hospital, Lackawanna.

Watson, 78, a retired supervisor for the Erie County Water Authority, had excelled at several sports throughout his life. He was a fullback for the high school football team and a center for the basketball squad in the 1930s. Later in life, he took up bowling.

Best known for playing baseball, he was a longtime infielder and manager in The Buffalo News Suburban League. The right-handed slugger led Farmington and West Seneca teams to several league and all-around championships in the late 1930s through the early 1950s.

"He was very good," said Lawrence Dietz, who was Watson's teammate and friend. "He was the cleanup hitter, batted .400 and hit tape-measure home runs."

Watson signed with the St. Louis Cardinals and reported to the organization's farm team in Kansas for part of one year.

"He didn't like pro baseball," Dietz said. "He was the kind of guy that got homesick. He reported to a huge complex in Manhattan, Kan. He kind of got lost in the shuffle."

As a combat infantryman, Watson suffered back and foot injuries from mortar fire during the Battle of the Bulge, which began in December 1944.

The war injuries slowed him on the base paths when he returned home, Dietz said. But Watson resumed his dominating play. Respected by teammates, he became his team's manager and was viewed as one of the best in the league, Dietz said.

"He was very quiet. His actions spoke louder than words," Dietz said. "He led by example rather than by talking."

Watson is survived by his daughter, Barbara Barbati of Boston; a son, Scott of Cheektowaga; a sister, Doris Manning of East Aurora; five grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in Hoy Funeral Home, 3855 Seneca St., West Seneca.

[Lakamp].

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