Greater Binghamton lost one of its biggest baseball icons in 2016.
Former New York Yankee and Binghamton Triplet Steve Kraly died following a courageous battle with cancer.
Last year, in a collaboration with a friend, Kraly’s life was finally put to paper.
NewsChannel 34’s James Atherlay takes us inside the pages of his memoir, My Life In Blue.
Jim Maggiore co-wrote My Life in Blue with Kraly.
He and the Yankee pitcher would meet every other Thursday at a restaurant in Johnson City for a period of about 4 or 5 months.
It was there that Maggiore learned just how important baseball was to Kraly.
“Every day, he would throw a tennis ball against a brick wall, and he measured it out. 60 feet, 6 inches, and measured out the square of home plate. He would throw a ball against the wall and then practice fielding it,” says Maggiore.
His dreams would come true when he began his career in the New York Yankees system in 1949.
Even though he grew up right outside of Chicago, his family quickly switched from White Sox to Yankees fans to cheer for him.
His career took a turn though, that he wasn’t thrilled about.
He was assigned to Binghamton, instead of Kansas City.
It wasn’t all bad, though.
“Sure enough, Steve dominated in Binghamton for two months, and after being there two months with the team, it was almost like he didn’t want to go to Kansas City. He wanted to stay with Binghamton and win a championship,” says Maggiore.
In 1953, at the beginning of August, Kraly finally got the call he had been waiting for.
He was going to pitch for the Yankees.
What’s better than that, he contributed to their fifth straight World Series championship.
“My dreams were to follow in the footsteps of my dad. If I went out and introduced myself as Steve Kraly, immediately, a lot of times it would be ‘Steve Kraly? Is that your father? The Yankee?” said Kraly.
Unfortunately for the elder Kraly, that was all she wrote for him and the Yankees, as he got hurt the next year.
“From 54 to 55 and 56, he was in the minor leagues, Triple-A, and then when he got hurt, he wound up back in Binghamton in 1956 on a comeback trail,” said Maggiore.
Instead of continuing to work in Major League Baseball, Kraly decided to leave the game that he loved so much, and took a job with IBM. A post he would hold for 30 years.
“The story has a happy ending. Him and my mom get married and they have four kids. I tell my siblings, ‘You know, if Dad didn’t have arm trouble, we wouldn’t be here,” said Kraly.
The now former Yankee enjoyed his new job, but leapt at the chance to be the official scorer for the Binghamton Mets in 1992.
Kraly looks back on his father with pride.
“He proved that you don’t have to be big and powerful, and this stellar athlete with size. He proved that you can be a little guy with a big heart,” says Kraly.
The baseball legend, and Greater Binghamton Sports Hall of Famer died in 2016, but his memory, and his stories will live on through his book.
My Life in Blue is available at major online retailers like Amazon, All About Collectibles in the Oakdale Mall, and of course, the gift shop at NYSEG Stadium.