Section V Hall of Famer Andy Spennacchio dies

August 7, 2013    Written by  Ryan Miller Staff writer

Andy Spennacchio was one of three athletic brothers but you wouldn't find a traditional sibling rivalry in the Spennacchio household.

Well, there was one official competition between the trio.

When Spennacchio was the coach of Gates Chili's first junior varsity basketball team in 1958 he squared off against his brother Mauro, who coached Wheatland-Chili. But it was an unfair advantage: two Spennacchio's against one. Their youngest brother John, then 16, played for Andy at Gates Chili.

"We just had a game and that was it. They hugged each other after the game and went down the street for a drink," recalled John, who scored 11 points in that 51-24 victory for the Gates Chili Spennacchios. "We had a lot of fun growing up together playing sports. We never had an argument. It's kind of unusual when you have a family where everybody gets along so well."

Anthony "Andy" J. Spennacchio died on Monday at the age of 84. He has been inducted into the Section V Basketball and Football Hall of Fames, the Monroe County Hall of Fame and was enshrined into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame last year.

Mr. Spennacchio was born on April 3, 1929 in Rochester. He earned his Bachelors and Masters education degrees from SUNY Brockport and worked as a teacher and administrator until his retirement in 1982.

Mr. Spennacchio lived in Gates with his wife of 55 years, Sally. They have five children, 18 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. John, now 71, and their sister Ruth, live in Chili. He was a three-sport star at Madison High School, where he played baseball, basketball and was one of the areas first passing quarterbacks in football.

Mr. Spennacchio was one of two pitchers to defeat former Major League pitcher Johnny Antonelli in high school.

"I remember it vividly," said Antonelli, who played for Jefferson and against Spennacchio in all three sports. "One day Madison's pitcher got sick before the game and Andy stepped in and beat us. He shut us down. I still saw him on occasion at games or out to eat. He was a super athlete and super person."

Mr. Spennacchio, who was a nine-time All-Scholastic honoree, was offered $500 a month to play for the Philadelphia Phillies but accepted a scholarship offer to play quarterback at Michigan State.

A knee injury forced Mr. Spennacchio out of the Big Ten and he transferred to Brockport, where he was captain of the baseball squad and played basketball. When the soccer team needed a goalie one season, he stepped in. The team went undefeated and he was named All-State.

After serving in the Army -- and being coaxed into playing football for his post when the sergeant gave him the ultimatum of the gridiron or Korea -- Mr. Spennacchio stayed active in Rochester athletics, hooping for the semi-pro East Rochester Pauls and playing in the Fastball World Series as a member of the Rochester Radio Softball team in 1953.

Mr. Spennacchio was a math teacher at Wayne Central School from 1955-1958 before spending the next 24 years at Gates Chili. In addition to becoming the program's first basketball coach, he was appointed the district's first assistant principal in 1967. Mr. Spennacchio was named assistant superintendent in 1970.

"Everybody loved Andy. If you see someone in their 80s and say, 'Have you heard of Andy Spennacchio' they'll say he was a great athlete in Rochester," John Spennacchio said. "Back in the 1940s there were great athletes. They were like local celebrities in the city and everybody knew them. When there was a big game, The Armory was packed with 3,000 people. It was a fun time."