Sam Nader went first class Tuesday.
The New York-Penn League inducted former Oneonta Tigers owner Nader, 94, into its Hall of Fame in the second year of a three-phase process designed to establish an honor roll for those who have made significant contributions to the oldest, continuously operated Single-A league in professional baseball.
Although the NY-Penn’s Hall of Fame plan started last year, Nader is technically a first-class inductee.
The NY-Penn inducted Wade Boggs (Elmira Pioneers, 1976); Nellie Fox (Jamestown Falcons, 1944); Phil Niekro (Wellsville Braves, 1959); Tony Perez (Geneva Redlegs, 1960-61); Jim Rice (Williamsport Red Sox, 1971); Warren Spahn (Bradford Bees, 1940); and Robin Yount (Newark Co-Pilots, 1973) before its 2012 All-Star Game in Niles, Ohio, which is home to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
Those seven inductees were honored Aug. 14, 2012, as part of the first phase, which recognized former NY-Penn players who went on to earn spots in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Nader was one of five inducted during the second phase — for league personnel and team officials — Tuesday before the NY-Penn’s 2013 All-Star Game at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn. The other four second-phase inductees were former NY-Penn presidents Robert Julian, Vince McNamara, Leo Pickney and Robert Stedler.
The foundation of the Hall will be completed in 2014 with the third phase, which will honor individuals who will be nominated and voted upon by NY-Penn teams. The NY-Penn’s Hall will grow thereafter with annual elections of those nominated and voted upon by member teams.
Ironically, Nader was inducted in the city that is now home to his former NY-Penn franchise.
Nader was part of a group of men who purchased the NY-Penn franchise in 1966 and ran it for one season as the Oneonta Red Sox. The team spent the next 32 seasons known as the Oneonta Yankees, then became the Oneonta Tigers when New York moved its NY-Penn affiliate to Staten Island in 1999.
Nader and longtime partner Sid Levine ran the O-Tigers until 2008, when they sold the franchise to an investment group led by E. Miles Prentice III. The O-Tigers lasted one more season in Oneonta as Prentice’s group moved the team in 2010 to Dodd Stadium, where it continues to operate as the Connecticut Tigers.
The move effectively ended Oneonta baseball games featuring professional players, but it also paved the way for the introduction of the Oneonta Outlaws. The summer college baseball team has been playing at Damaschke Field — the former home of Oneonta’s NY-Penn teams — since 2010 and has won two of the last three New York Collegiate Baseball League championships. The Outlaws won their second NYCBL crown earlier this summer under owner Gary Laing, who purchased the franchise from Keith Rogers and Dan Scaring before the start of the 2013 season.
Nader’s NY-Penn Hall of Fame induction is the latest honor for the former Oneonta mayor who previously earned the titles of Mr. Oneonta and Mr. Baseball.
His name is also attached to the NY-Penn’s annual Staff Member of the Year Award. Additionally, the league’s championship trophy is named after his late wife, Alice.
The American League beat the National League, 4-3, in Tuesday’s NY-Penn All-Star Game.