Orval Cott Sr., a former professional baseball and basketball player, died Friday (Dec. 26, 2003) in Hospice Buffalo, Cheektowaga, after a brief illness. He was 85.
A lifelong resident of the Lovejoy area, Cott graduated from East High School and made first-team All-High honors in baseball, basketball and football in his junior and senior years.
He attended Niagara University on a basketball scholarship in 1938.
During his freshman year, he signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. He later played for the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers organizations.
Throughout his baseball career, Cott played on several all-star teams and won pennants in Penn State and PONY leagues. He also was a player-manager for the pennant-winning Jamestown and Lockport PONY League teams.
In 1941, Cott was drafted into the Army and was stationed at Fort Niagara, Youngstown, where he was captain of the Army baseball team that won the Eastern Championship. The team played against an all-star team that included Hall of Famers Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson.
He was sent overseas and served in the 347th Regiment, 87th Infantry Division, in the European Theater. A platoon sergeant, he was awarded the Bronze Star and three battle stars.
After his military service, he played three years of pro basketball with the NBA Syracuse Nationals and later in the New York State Pro League for the Utica and Oswego organizations.
Cott also was a baseball scout with the New York Mets and later the Houston Astros.
He worked as a recruiter and plant safety engineer for Ford Motor Co.'s Buffalo Stamping Plant, Hamburg, for 25 years.
A lifelong member of the Pro Baseball Players Association, he also was a member of Concordia Lodge 31, Free & Accepted Masons; Ismailia Shrine Temple; Adam Plewacki Post, American Legion; and Trinity United Church of Christ.
His wife of 56 years, Alberta Mae Picky Cott, died in 2002.
Survivors include three sons, Edward of Sardinia, Orval E. Jr. of Buffalo and Martin of Derby; a sister, Audrey Cott Seaman of Cheektowaga; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Michael A. DiVincenzo Funeral Home, 1122 E. Lovejoy St. Burial will be in Sardinia Cemetery, Sardinia.