CAPITAL DISTRICT MABL (ALBANY, NY): CDMABL News: Pastore & The Redstars Announce Final Retirement

Thursday, April 15
Pastore & The Redstars Announce Final Retirement

The decade long run of the Capital District Red Stars came to an end earlier this month in a shocking announcement from the team’s owner and manager, Tony Pastore. The 29-year old announced his retirement from baseball after 14 seasons in the amateur/semi-professional leagues of eastern New York State. 

The Pastore-led Red Stars accomplished a lot in a decade. The team was one of four clubs from Tri City League/Capital District NABA to win 100 games or more during the 2000s. The Stars qualified for the post-season nine out of their 10 seasons of existence including an eight-year stretch that began in 2002. In 2003 the team became the inaugural CDNABA Champions, defeating the Bombers, 2 games to 1, in the final series. In 2005 the team won the CDNABA American Division Championship in one of the most unlikely comebacks in league history after fighting back from a 1-7 start in a short 28 game season. In 2007 the team battled into the CDNABA National Division Championship series despite the entire rotation falling to injury prior to the playoffs. Finally, in 2009 the team experienced what was anticipated to be a rebuilding season when Pastore implemented a new plan for success with a youth-based roster. The plan also involved a shocking defection from the CDNABA to the Eastern New York Travel Baseball League. The Red Stars were one of seven original CDNABA teams and the last of them remain in competition. In  2009, the team’s only season in the ENYTB, they qualified for the AABC New York State Championship as well as the NABF Northeastern Regional Championships with sixteen 18-year old rookies. 

Pastore is hesitant to attribute the team’s success to him alone. 

“I may have been the founder and leader but you can’t have a successful club for so many years without dedicated players. Without guys like Jay Walsh, Adam Blot, Matt Miller, Gerry Miller, Tom Reiner, and “The Goat” Matt Heron we may not have even lasted five seasons or become as successful as we were. It was not just them. It was everyone who put in some sort of an effort into this club,” Pastore said.

The majority of the core that Pastore listed played together in some combination for nine of the team’s 10 seasons. 

“No matter what happened in a game, practice, or the off-season I always knew those guys would be there and loved this team. They had a great deal of pride and worked hard to make it what it was,” Pastore said.

Walsh was the first captain in team history. Blot and Reiner later became captains. Walsh, Blot, Heron, and Matt Miller went on to have their numbers retired.

Pastore’s personal run ends after 14 seasons as a player and team leader. He began his adult league career at age 15 with Grand Slam USA/All Stars Academy of the Albany Twilight League in 1996. He was a member 3 league championship teams in 1996, 1999, and 2000. In 2001, after splitting time between his newly formed Red Stars and the All Stars Academy, Pastore chose to focus on the red and grey full-time, in part because of the passing of his father and the team’s co-founder, Bill Pastore, whose number is also now retired. 

“If it were not for my experience in the Albany Twilight League and the positive influence of Mike Serbalik, Dave Perry, Chris Dedrick and the other veterans, the Red Stars probably would never existed,” Pastore said. “You can’t understate the importance of these experiences as it relates to the formation of the team.”

Tony Pastore was the co-founder of the team with his father Bill Pastore. His father put up thousands of the family’s own money for inaugural season costs and was a huge behind-the-scenes motivator in the formation of the team. Tony Pastore says that his father’s influence on the team went far beyond his passing. The younger Pastore says that not all but most of his team philosophy came from his father. Those philosophies such as “intensity, pride, and hustle” and doing things the “right way” drove the team. 

“My father always believed that if you built a core of players sharing the same values and beliefs as it related to the game that you would win games. Loyalty was something he stressed. He felt that if a guy was taking time from work and his family the string should be long,” Pastore said. “There were many times prior to  and after 2003 that I wanted to get rid of certain guys based on performance but I stuck with them. He believed and I found out that when your players feel you are loyal to them, they will play harder, have more pride in the team, and develop cohesiveness that only comes from playing together. We lived by that philosophy and it worked very effectively evidenced by the 2003 championship.”

Pastore also said that the 03 title was a promise he made to his father on in his final hours. The promise came at the worst time as the team was experiencing an exceptionally high turnover rate during the off-season. 

“I had to recruit a brand new roster and that is when Jay Walsh and the rest of that core I mentioned earlier showed up. They knew the situation and were committed to winning a championship for the Red Stars and only the Red Stars,” Pastore said. 

The team opened up the 2001 season with Glenn Wright hurling a no-hitter. It was enough to show the league the young Stars intentions for the future but ultimately 2001 was the only season in team history that they failed to qualify for the post-season. Eventually every core rookie Pastore recruited in 2001 made it to at least one CDNABA All-Star Game. 

Pastore also pointed out Gerry Miller’s contribution to the team.

“Without Gerry and the Miller family, the team would have had a drastically different personality and feel. Gerry was the most loyal Assistant Manager I could have asked for and when discussing the team’s triumphs, people should realize how much he had to do with it,” Pastore said. 

Pastore goes on to stress that he is in fact retired. He cites changes in his life philosophy led him to the decision to completely walk away from baseball.

“I am retired. I have no desire to coach a baseball team at this point in my life. After going to the state and regional championship last year, I accomplished just about everything a manager could accomplish in that area at that play level. More importantly, I’m just not into it anymore. When you no longer have a passion for the game, it is time to leave. Those 10 years were both the best AND the worst years of my life,” Pastore said. 

In 2008 Pastore left the Capital District for the mountains as he began pursuit of his Master’s degree in physical education at Western Carolina University in rural North Carolina. This played heavily into his decision.

“I’m at the point in my life where I have to start living life for me. Baseball is not fun for me anymore. I used to literally obsess over winning the league championship. That would be my prime focus in life because I hated losing. I flip out if I lose a game of Go Fish even today. I half-accidently broke a PS2 controller the other day cause I lost in FIFA 2010. Losing literally makes me sick,” Pastore said.

Pastore went on to say that during the team’s early years he could not sleep and times would be physically sick from a loss. 

“Obviously, that was not a healthy reaction and as myself and the team got older and matured, I found healthy outlets that helped me get control of those reactions. I no longer live for competition. My focus is on my education, enjoying life with great people, and entering the next chapter of my life.”

Pastore says he would intentionally spark league controversies and rivalries with his “big mouth” as a way to motivate players. An intentional misconception he sent to opponents. 

“I would take my true feelings and multiply the intensity of it about 10 times greater. Sure certain things annoyed me but who in their right mind takes baseball personally? I took it extremely serious but at the same time I did not take it personal like I intentionally led people to believe. If you can get your team to they have a “rival,” your guys are going to play harder and show up more often. I never had problems getting guys to show up and pumped up when we played Anaconda or the Knights. I had players that requested days off from work just to play in those games. That was the psychological strategy I had and it worked very effectively for many years. All the heat this team took was directed at me and I’m fine with that. It allowed my players to focus on baseball while picking up the intensity. I have no negative feelings towards anybody in the league. I never have. It was all business and I realize I did things for the benefit of the team that pissed a lot of my friends and former friends off and I can live with that too. Our record speaks for itself and can never be changed. How many people retire from their sport wishing they had accomplished more? Almost everyone. I feel good about my career that is the ultimate victory,” Pastore said. 

  "I also want to thank all the people that made this team possible. We need to acknowledge Rich Pangburn the one-time President of the Tri-City, who approved the expansion application of a 19-year old rookie manager. I gotta thank Ian Liebmann and Rudy Klahr for forming a premier baseball league in the area and inviting us to be apart of it. Mark LeMorta, Joe DeMarco, Jim Kisselburgh, Pat Doyle, and Chad Fahy should all be thanked as well because without their hard work within the league, no team would have had the chance to compete. The league would have folded."

So what is left the Red Stars? Pastore says that he does intend on returning to Albany at least for a short period of time every summer and has been toying with the idea of having reunion games where every former Red Star would be invited to participate regardless of what their relationship with the team was at the time of folding. 

What is next for Pastore personally?

“I'm just happy to be alive. Seriously. I was told by so-called experts I'd be dead or in prison by 30. I'm making something of myself. Besides getting my Masters, I’m an extremely good-looking dude now. Modeling is definitely an option. I like rap music and got some skills so I was thinking of cutting a local album or two. I’ve learned I have an artistic side and like painting and dying things. I think I’m going to just be lazy and travel around the country selling tie die t-shirts at music festivals during the summer. I have developed some charisma and think I’d make a great actor. I have a love for media and plan to film a few documentaries. All of this pending what my spiritual advisor recommends of course. My life is about spreading peace and love now. To all my former players till active in the game. You are still keeping the Red Stars tradition alive. Perform well this season,” Pastore said.

2000-  9-4/ TCL Wild Card Series
2001- 6-12/ No post-season
2002-  8-4/ TCL Semi-Finals
2003- 12-5/ CDNABA Champions (defeat Bombers 2 games to 1)
2004- 13-9/ CDNABA American Division Wild Card Series.
2005- 16-11/ CDNABA American Division Regular Season Champions, CDNABA Divisional Series.
2006- 15-13/ CDNABA Divisional Series 
2007- 16-10/ CDNABA National Division Championship Series
2008- 10-16/ CDNABA Wild Card Series
2009- 16-22/ AABC New York State Championship tournament, NABF Northeastern Regional Championship tournament