Fiochetta going into national AAABA Hall
The late Ron Fiochetta, who put Altoona’s L.S. Fiore’s entry on the national All-American Amateur Baseball Association map during his 12 years as the franchise’s manager, will be one of five new inductees enshrined into the national AAABA Hall of Fame later this summer.
Fiochetta will be joined in this year’s induction class by former major league manager Buck Showalter, former major league relief pitcher and pitching coach Roger McDowell, and former major league pitchers Nelson Figueroa and Kurt Ainsworth.
This year’s induction banquet will be held on Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Frank J. Pasquerilla Center in Johnstown. The guest speaker for the banquet will be Roberto Clemente Jr.
Fiochetta, who died at the age of 51 in 1997, managed L.S. Fiore from 1984 through 1997, with two years off in 1992 and 1993 due to health reasons. He served as the team’s general manager in the 1991 season. Fiochetta led L.S. Fiore to 10 Altoona AAABA League championships, four AAABA Regional championships and a runner-up finish in the AAABA National Tournament at Johnstown in 1994.
Most importantly, Fiochetta brought Altoona to respectability in the AAABA National Tournament field, according to John Austin, executive director of the national AAABA. Austin managed Altoona-based AAABA teams for many years, often oppposite Fiochetta, and also served as L.S. Fiore’s field manager in 1991, when Fiochetta was the franchise’s general manager.
“My thinking was that Ron took the Altoona franchise from an 0-2 franchise in the national tournament to a franchise that was competitive every year,” Austin said. “Instead of (every opposing team) wanting to draw Altoona, they began hoping not to draw them until the second or third round.”
This year’s induction class was voted into the Hall of Fame by the AAABA’s four-person selection committee this past April.
“It’s a very honorable thing for Ron to go in with this class, with these distinguished guys who are going in this year,” Austin said.
Austin said that Fiochetta managed 25 players who would later sign professional baseball contracts. Fiochetta’s widow, Joy, and son, Matt, will accept the award on his behalf at the banquet.
Pete Lewis, who served as Fiochetta’s assistant coach during all 12 seasons of Fiochetta’s L.S. Fiore reign, said that Fiochetta was passionate about managing the Fiore team.
“I was with him all 12 years, and he never lost that enthusiasm for baseball,” Lewis said. “It was a year-round thing for him. He deserves to get in (the Hall of Fame). He fought through a lot of health (issues) in his last couple years, and he dedicated a lot of time and effort into trying to do things right.”