By Jessica Spies, staff writer
Greece, N.Y. — To many who knew him, longtime Greece resident Art Held was a softball legend. To his children, he was not only “dad” but a teammate.
Mr. Held’s son, Rich, played softball and bowled with his dad for years.
When Art was 47, he pitched a one-hitter and Rich had one hit that helped win the game. But while Art had a great game himself, he couldn’t stop gushing about his son.
“He never tooted his own horn,” Rich said.
His father’s biggest lesson, though, was off the field.
“He taught me that if you smile at someone, 99 percent of the time, you will get a smile back,” he said.
Mr. Held’s daughter, Barbara Giordano, who learned softball and bowling from her father, remembers her dad’s smile the most.
“He always had a smile and was very well loved and respected by his peers,” she said.
Rochester softball legend Art Held died Dec. 26 at age 84.
He was one of the area’s best fast-pitch softball pitchers for decades, and was a longtime player and manager for Kodak Park in the Major Fast Pitch League. He start playing fast-pitch softball in 1946, moved to Rochester in 1953 and worked in the Kodak Park Recreational program for many years.
For many years, his age was his uniform number. He continued pitching until the age of 66, when he retired from the sport. He was inducted into the Elmira Sports Hall of Fame in 1984, as well as the New York State Softball Hall of Fame in 1994.
He was also an accomplished bowler — playing a perfect 300 game in 1962.
Sports were more than just a hobby for Art, but also a passion.
He worked at Eastman Kodak Co. in the recreation division, working in the bowling lanes and maintaining the ball fields for Kodak park.
About 1,000 people, including his teammates, were at Art Held’s wake. For his funeral, the church held 450, standing room only.
“If you knew my dad for five minutes, you fell in love with him,” Rich said. Friends thought of Art “as much as a gentleman off the field as he was on the field,” Rich said.
Mr. Held is survived by his wife of 62 years, Teresa; his son, Rich (Barb) Held; daughters, Cheryl (Ron) DeCamella, Mary (Mike) Jessup, Genine (Steve) Coleman and Barb (John) Giordano; 10 grandchildren, Cindy (Dave) McMullan, Patti (Tom) Gibaud, Tanya (Chris) Carden, Richie (Heather) Held, Karylin Coleman, Christina Giordano, Brittney Jessup, Jake Coleman, Nick Giordano, and Mikey Jessup; and six great-grandchildren, Stephanie Held, Jesse McMullan, Zack Gibaud, Leanza Gibaud, MacKenzie Gibaud and Logan Carden; along with many extended family members and friends, including his breakfast clubs he enjoyed.
One thing few knew about Art Held, even most of his best friends: He received a Bronze Star in World War II.
“It was difficult for him, because he loved life and always wanted peace,” Rich said. “But he also had the love and the courage to fight for his country and came home a better person.”