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Gateway grad Macha set for Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame induction

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Former Major Leauge Baseball player and manager Ken Macha talks to the players at the Westmoreland County Community College instructional baseball camp being held all week at the college's Youngwood Campus.

Ken Macha is a member of both the Gateway Sports Hall of Fame and the East Boros Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

On May 4, Macha's efforts in baseball at the local, collegiate and professional levels will be recognized again, as he will be inducted with nine others into the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

The ceremony and dinner will be at Sheraton Four Points Pittsburgh North.

Macha first made an impact in baseball at Gateway before he graduated in 1968.

He is most well-known for baseball, but he also enjoyed success in swimming and was an integral part of the 1967-68 Section 2 champions. He earned two swimming letters and competed in the breaststroke, butterfly and individual medley.

Macha's diamond talent was on display as a sophomore in 1966, where he helped the Gators bring home the section title and finished as WPIAL runner-up to Kiski Area.

In 1967, he was a part of another section-championship squad. He played third base and was the team leader in home runs.

Gateway won the section title again during Macha's senior season in 1968. He batted .468 that season and hit three home runs.

“The winning tradition of the Gateway baseball program during my three years at Gateway will always remain a vivid memory,” Macha said right before his Gateway Sports Hall of Fame induction in 2002.

“As a team, we played with pride, confidence and emotion. Coach (John) Hoffman's approach to the game was always upbeat and positive. He made sure that we worked at it and had fun doing so. He did a lot to reinforce my passion for the game.”

In addition to his time with the Gators, Macha also played for the Monroeville American Legion and the Little Pirates traveling baseball team.

Macha also suited up for the Monroe- ville Maulers semi-pro baseball team in the early 1970s, and the team was known for having several strong home-run hitters in the lineup.

After graduation from Gateway, Macha moved to the University of Pittsburgh. He wasn't offered a scholarship at the start, but he eventually was offered a scholarship in his sophomore season.

In 1971, he ranked nationally in batting average, runs batted in per game and in slugging percentage.

Macha became the captain of the Panthers in 1972 and was a Sporting News Honorable Mention All-American. That summer, the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him in the sixth round.

He was voted the 1974 MVP of the AA Eastern Baseball League and was the league's batting champion and an all-star catcher that season.

From 1974 to 1981, Macha played for the Pirates, the Montreal Expos and the Toronto Blue Jays.

He finished with a career batting average of .256 over six seasons.

Macha played in Japan from 1982 to 1985, and he played in the 1982 Japanese World Series.

He batted .304 during his time in Japan and had 82 home runs.

Macha's coaching career in the Major Leagues started in 1986 as a member of the Expos staff, and he remained there until 1991.

He coached in the Angels and Red Sox organizations from 1992 to 1998 and was the bench coach of the Oakland Athletics from 1999 until he was hired to manage the A's for the 2003 season.

Macha managed the Athletics from 2003 to 2006 and later skippered the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009 and 2010.

In six big-league seasons, he compiled a 525-447 regular-season record.

Macha led the A's to divisional titles and the playoffs in both 2003 and 2006. Oakland lost in the divisional series both seasons, falling to eventual World Champion Boston in 2003 and World Series runner-up Detroit in 2006.

Others to be inducted on May 4 include Kirk Bruce, a basketball star at South Hills High School and at Pitt and the brother of former Gateway varsity girls basketball head coach Jennifer Bruce Scott.

Trafford native John Paul “Sonny” Vaccaro, known for his contributions to basketball both locally and nationally, also is an inductee, along with Bill Priatko, a football star at Scott High School in Braddock and at Pitt who later had an opportunity to play with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The class also features McKeesport football coaching legend George Smith and former Pittsburgh Pirates infielder and current Buccos broadcaster John Wehner.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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