After 64 years, it’s hard to imagine a generation of baseball players who won’t be coached by local legend, George Barone.
The Lakewood native, who has coached more than 2,000 games and influenced the lives of nearly 1,500 players throughout his career, fought a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer that ended in January.
“When Dad passed away, the idea came to me to create something that would keep his memory alive,” said Barone’s daughter, Brooke. “He has touched so many people, both personally and professionally, and I wanted something that would continue his legacy in our community.”
Brooke reached out to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and after discussing several charitable options, decided to create a scholarship in her father’s memory.
The George L. Barone, Jr. Scholarship will be awarded annually to graduating Southwestern Central School seniors who participate in athletics, are a team player and possess a positive attitude.
“So many times when people pass away their memory begins to slowly fade and I didn’t want that for my dad,” Brooke said. “He always said he wanted to be remembered and to be important to others.”
Nearly a week before his passing, Barone was officially inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, cementing his place in local sports history.
“Here’s a guy who gave his whole life to baseball,” said Randy Anderson, Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame president.
At the age of 13, Barone began as an assistant in the former Cub League of Lakewood. Two years later, he was given the opportunity to manage his own teams, the Lakewood Indians and Lakewood Cardinals.
Over the next several decades, Barone coached youth of all ages throughout the Chautauqua region, winning eight district Babe Ruth titles, four New York State Babe Ruth titles and advancing to regionals, twice.
In a letter he shared during his private Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Barone wrote, “You owe it to yourself to be the best you can be. Never let anyone discourage you from playing the game you love.”
Family and friends are currently planning a basket raffle to take place later this spring, as well as, several other fundraising events to benefit the scholarship fund.
Brooke has also created a Facebook page, the George L. Barone, Jr. Scholarship Fund to share the most up to date information regarding upcoming events. Community members interested in donating items for the basket raffle may reach out to Brooke via the Facebook page or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.