The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

February 25, 2013

Baseball scene loses beloved figure in Mazey

JOHNSTOWN — Forrest Mazey told the kind of stories that made every person in the room take notice, whether the tales centered around growing up in Coopersdale, the state of pitching in the AAABA or the long, rich history of baseball in and around Johnstown.

When Mazey spoke baseball, ears always perked up because few, if any, knew more about the subject.

Even fewer enjoyed as much success coaching the game and teaching its fundamentals.

“Forrest was very baseball-minded,” said Greater Johnstown High School baseball coach Dee Dee Osborne, a close friend of Mazey. “I always tell people he’s good at two things: Winning and not losing. That’s the truth. Every where he went, we won championships.”

And Mazey won over everyone he came in contact with, which is one reason why the area baseball community felt such a sense of loss Monday after learning of Mazey’s death. A longtime fixture at the AAABA Tournament, Mazey died early Monday morning at the age of 71 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

“There’s just so many memories with Forrest,” Osborne said. “Everybody in Johnstown will have a Forrest Mazey story. Every kid he coached or who played against him will never forget him. He will be missed.”

Soon after word of Mazey’s death spread, several area baseball personalities expressed their feelings via social media.

George Roberts, a Forest Hills graduate who appeared in the 2012 College World Series with Kent State said on his Twitter account (@GRobertsKSU6), “saw him Saturday, he was a great friend to our family and he will be truly missed by all!”

Douglas McNulty was one of the area’s premier AAABA players in recent years and a 2008 Major League Baseball draft pick said on Twitter (@1470djmcnulty), “one of the true Legends and all around stand up guys. Nothing better than watching a tournament game with him.”

Mazey was good enough as a player with Lower Cambria in the Johnstown Junior League that he appeared in the 1958 AAABA Tournament at the age of 17.

Those AAABA appearances continued in various fashions over the years, including his attendance at the most recent AAABA Tournament in 2012.

Mazey managed Wheeler Cadillac in the mid-1980s and was part of highly successful Pepsi-Cola teams that won multiple Junior League titles in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Osborne managed the team and Mazey was an assistant coach. The pairing was perfect match.

“Winning championships was something we were good at,” Osborne said. “As far as baseball goes, I learned a lot from him. I respected him.”

After Pepsi pulled the franchise, Mazey joined the Knickerbockers. His 1992 Knickerbockers become just the second Johnstown entry to win its first three AAABA Tournament games.

Mazey later coached with Galliker Dairy for manager Butch Odenthal and was there in 2001 when the team was national runner-up. He also served as general manager for Principal Development and coached wildly successful Colt League and Little League teams.

His love of baseball was passed on to his sone Randy and Brian, who both went on to star at the AAABA Tournament. Randy Mazey is in his first season as head baseball coach at West Virginia University.

“If you take baseball off, he’s still one great guy. I never met anybody that didn’t like Forrest,” Osborne said. “He never lied to a kid. He never boasted, never boasted. He could win a championship and he was focused on what was next.”

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