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BARROWS IN GOOD COMPANY FOR HIS FOURTH INDUCTION

It's becoming old hat, getting inducted into halls of fame.

After tonight's honor by the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame (8, Empire), Bob Barrows will be in four different ones.

"I don't want to sound too humble, but there are a lot more people deserving than I am," Barrows said. "But I'm not going to refuse it."

The legendary Orchard Park High School baseball coach will add this honor to his spots in the Western New York Baseball Hall of Fame, the Bishop Timon Hall of Fame and the Orchard Park Hall of Fame.

Each induction is special, but this one is a little more prestigious.

At HSBC Arena, Barrows will share the stage with former Sabres goalie Don Edwards and former Bills Steve Tasker and Booker Edgerson.

Also heading into the hall will be Cindy Coburn-Carroll, the youngest woman in Women's International Bowling Congress history to hold the national high average; Mark Finucane, a standout cross country and distance runner; Joe Niland, former star athlete as well as basketball and baseball coach at Canisius College; Dr. Leonard Serfustini, former University at Buffalo basketball coach; Sibby Sisti, a former major league utility player with the Boston and Milwaukee Braves; Stan Barron, a founding father of local sports radio; and Glenn "Pop" Warner, the legendary college football coach who is a Springville native.

"It's really odd," Barrows said. "I've been playing baseball since I was 6 years old. I never expected anything like this. I just can't believe I'm going in with those people."

But the honor isn't so surprising for those who know Barrows and what he accomplished in 39 years at Orchard Park.

Barrows, who retired as head coach in 2000, led the Quakers to 24 ECIC division titles, seven Section VI titles and a state championship in 1988. He's second on the state's all-time victory list with 627.

Those wins were important to him at one time. But coaches who live and die by the scoreboard don't necessarily last -- or succeed.

Instead, the key to Barrows success has been developing close relationships with his players.

"In the last month, I've been to three weddings and I participated in one of them, doing a reading," Barrows said. "That's the stuff I remember most. You can only have so many wins and losses. I don't make much of that. That's what's changed in me most over the years. When I first started, I wanted to win. Now, it's just fun."

Perhaps the most fun he's had in his baseball days has come vicariously through Dave Hollins.

A member of Barrows' first sectional championship team in 1984, Hollins went on to play for the Philadelphia Phillies. And when the Phillies went to Toronto to play in the 1993 World Series, his former high school coach was his special guest.

"That was my greatest thrill in baseball," Barrows said of that trip to SkyDome. "It was my first time ever to a World Series and to be there at his invitation was more than I could handle.

"Even when he was playing, we talked almost weekly. One day, he was playing out on the West Coast and hit a home run at 2 o'clock in the morning. I woke everybody in the family up. I was quite proud of him."

"When you talk about a coach trying to stay in his prime over four decades, he was really able to do that through his relationship with the kids," said Orchard Park Athletic Director Jim Trampert. "He was always around and the kids knew he was around watching them do other things. They knew he really cared. He also had an underlying competitive spirit which was a great combination to motivate kids.

"When you think about staying contemporary in other games with changing offenses and styles of play, you don't have that in baseball. Baseball is really a simple game. So his success had to be something else. And that was his relationship with the kids."
e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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