Valley Native To Be Inducted in Mohawk Valley Baseball Hall of Fame April 13th
James Aiello, a native of Herkimer, NY, is the second 2018 Inductee of the Mohawk Valley Baseball Hall of Fame. The ceremony, which will be held in Little Falls on April 13, 2018, will also include famed Herkimer Coach Larry Hughes.
Aiello was born to play sports. He excelled in football, baseball, track and basketball. His achievements on the basketball court earned him a scholarship to George Washington University, but he chose to pursue baseball as it was his number one passion. That passion was cemented while in high school where he once stuck out 21 batters in seven innings. Ironically, his fellow inductee Hughes was his catcher.
Scouted by professional scouts since his sophomore year in high school, Aiello worked out at camps put on by the New York Giants, Boston Braves, Brooklyn Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees among several others. On August 7, 1951, he became one of the era’s noted “bonus babies” when he signed with the Yankees. Working out with superstars Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Mickey Mantle at Yankees Stadium certainly did not hurt the Yankees’ chances in signing Aiello.
Aiello played for several teams during the course of his minor league career, including the Amsterdam Rugmakers, Fond du Lac Panthers, Olean Yankees, Joplin Minors, Grand Forks Chiefs, Norfolk Tars, Quincy Gems, and Binghamton Triplets. Over the course of his six season career, a career unfortunately cut down due to arm troubles, Aiello went 25-21 in 76 games pitched. His ERA was slightly over 4.00 and had a solid hits allowed-to-innings pitched ratio.
Aiello’s career was thought to be over in 1955, and he returned home to Herkimer to get married and play in the local semi-pro circuit. While pitching for the Gloversville team in the national championships in Wichita, KS, Aiello was noticed by Tom Greenwade, the same scout who signed Mickey Mantle for the Yankees, and signed another pro contract in late 1956 to pitch for the Triplets in Binghamton. His time in Binghamton was cut short as Uncle Sam came calling and drafted Aiello into the Army. After his stint serving the country, he was asked to spring training with the now-San Francisco Giants. Despite being offered a choice between Double-A and Triple-A, Aiello chose his family over his professional baseball career and returned to Herkimer.
Aiello did not give up playing, however. He played on several local semi-pro and MUNY League teams throughout the area along with Hughes, and then joined Hughes in the dugout as a pitching coach with both Herkimer High School and the Herkimer American Legion teams. The teams enjoyed great successes including the 1980 New York State American Legion Championship.
Aiello splits his time between Herkimer and Cocoa Beach, FL. He has two children and eight grandchildren.
The event’s doors will open on April 13, at 5:30 P.M. for cocktails, autographs and silent auction with dinner and program following. Tickets cost $40 per person and a table of 8 can be purchased for $275.
Tickets for the April 13, 2018 Mohawk Valley Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Dinner with 1986 World Series Champion and former Little Falls and New York Met Wally Backman can be purchased by contacting the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs at (315) 985-0692 (Travis Heiser) or by emailing Travis@mydiamonddwgs.com
Stay tuned as we will announce another inductee to the Mohawk Valley Baseball Hall of Fame in the coming weeks by visiting our website www.mydiamonddawgs.com or by social media on Facebook and Twitter @MVDiamondDawgs.