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Kevin Lester To Be Inducted Into The New York State Baseball Hall of Fame

Former Williamsville South Athletic Director Kevin Lester will be inducted into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, August 15, 2021, in Troy, New York.

Lester, who retired in 2017, served as Athletic Director for 32 years at South and 46 years as a teacher and administrator in the District.  During his time at South, he also managed a very successful varsity baseball team.

“It’s quite an honor and very humbling considering the previous inductees and the ones I’m going in with,” said Lester. “When I got the call, I wasn’t quite sure this was something I’d be a candidate for but I was told it’s based on my body of work. There’s a lot of major leaguers like Lou Piniella and Tino Martinez, who I’m going in with this year, Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle.  The Hall of Fame told me it’s not just for major league stars, but for people who have given their life to baseball in New York State.  With my body of work, they told me I’m the kind of guy they want to have in the Hall of Fame.”

“As Founder and Executive Director of the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame, we are thrilled to be inducting Kevin, whose love of the game and legacy in the game truly merit his induction,” said Rene LeRoux.  “Kevin accompanies some of the greats of the game such as Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle, Carl Yastrzemski, Billy Martin, and this year joining Tino Martinez and Lou Pinella.”

A staple on Western New York diamonds, after playing college baseball at St. Bonaventure, Lester spent time in the minor leagues, serving as the bullpen catcher for the Buffalo Bisons in 1981, 1982, and 1985.  He was also instrumental in starting the Bisons youth baseball program.  Lester has served as the Bisons official International League Scorekeeper since 1986. The Western New York native also appeared alongside Robert Redford in the movie “The Natural,” which used the Williamsville South woodshop to create Roy Hobbs’ famous “Wonderboy” bat. In addition to his playing days, Lester served as a professional scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals. 

“I’ve always remembered this quote from Yogi Berra, ‘Love is the most important thing in the world but baseball is pretty good, too.’ I’ve always remembered that,” said Lester who also added that the Yankee catching legend is his idol.  “I was never a major leaguer but what makes us all equal is our love for baseball.”

“When I think of Kevin, he is South High School in many ways.  It’s not uncommon to be in another state and have somebody ask me, ‘Do you know Kevin Lester?’ and part of that is his reach,” said Williamsville South Principal Keith Boardman.  “He and I still talk about baseball all the time. He played it growing up, he coached it, but the work he did with kids, and his continued work with the Buffalo Bisons, he has dedicated his life to baseball. It’s not just a love of the game, but everything it involves, the lessons. He embodies the sport.”

“Without a doubt, Kevin is one of the greatest role models, mentors, coaches, and administrators a school district could ask for,” added Chris Mucica, Instructional Specialist for Athletics.  “Kevin is and always will be one of a kind.  His time and loyalty to athletics, particularly baseball, is unapparelled.”

Lester will be enshrined into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame alongside his former head coach at St. Bonaventure, Fred Handler, Tino Martinez, Lou Piniella, Goose Gossage, Carl Erskine, Jerry Koosman, Gil Hodges, Mike Pagliarulo, John Morris, Kevin Kernan, Vic Feld, Jim Gates, Gene Michael, and former scout Cesar Presbott.

For additional information on the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2020, please visit: New York State Baseball Hall of Fame.

For more information on Williamsville South and the Williamsville Central School District, click here: www.williamsvillek12.org.