Tom P. Zmudosky
You know how it goes, “Okay, line up alphabetically”---
So, when your last name begins with the letter “Z” by the time you got to high school you were probably used to being at the end of the line or at the bottom of the list.. However, if your name is Tom Zmudosky you spent far more time at the head of the line, especially when it came to sports.
Rome Daily Sentinel sports columnist Fred Herbst, in December of 1978, described all the reasons for naming Tom, Rome's Top Athlete of The Year. The column also describes many of the reasons Tom has been elected to the Rome Sports Hall of Fame.
“Tommy Z was a leader of last winter's RFA basketball team and a stalwart on this past spring's RFA baseball team. But more than anything else, Zmudosky will long be remembered for his part in Smith Post's American Legion baseball season. “With Zmudosky paving the way, Smith Post compiled a 27-5 record and won the New York State championship.
“The lean righthander posted a 12 – 1 record for Smith that year, allowing just 12 earned runs in 90 plus innings. That's an earned run average of 1.20 (against some of the best players in New York State). He added 96 strikeouts and a pair of saves to his efforts.
“In the state and regional playoffs, Tommy Z posted a 6-0 mark with an 0.75 ERA.
“Included in his playoff victories were a one hitter in the state semi-finals; a ten inning masterpiece in the 2 -1 state finals, and a five hit performance in the regional quarterfinals.“ Smith manager Tony Abone said that if Tommy Z could pitch every day we might have won the national championship. He was easily the best pitcher in the tournament.
“Reason enough for making him Athlete of the Year, but there's more. Playing near flawless first base when he wasn't pitching, Tommy hit .358 and led the team in hits with 38, tied for the team lead in runs scored with 31 and was second in runs batted in with 26.
“It's no wonder Tommy Z was Smith Post's Most Valuable Player this year and should be Rome's Athlete of the Year.”
Add to that, Tommy Z's pre and post 1978 achievements, and there is no question that he is more than worthy of Hall of Fame status.
For instance, as a kid, Tommy was a multi-time winner in Rome's Punt, Pass and Kick competition.
Tommy was 9 – 0 for his 1976 RFA JV baseball team and was voted the MVP.
His varsity baseball career was highlighted by his senior year 9 – 1 pitching mark, a .390 batting average and being named to the league All-Star team.
Tommy Z was also a two-year starter and the senior year captain for the 77-78 RFA basketball team. Following his senior year, Tommy was selected as a league All-Star for the 13-4 Black Knights who won the annual Juggler Classic tournament at the Utica Auditorium by whipping Notre Dame in the finals 69-48. Tommy was named the tourney's MVP.
A knee injury during his freshman year hampered his collegiate career, but he still was impressive enough to sign a professional baseball contract with the Utica Blue Sox winning his first professional start 10-3 over the Little Falls Mets. Tom was drafted by the Oakland A's and spent several years as a successful pitcher in the minor leagues. His best year was 1988 when he compiled an 8-5 record with a 3.07 ERA.
Tommy came back to Rome and became an outstanding employee of the Carbone Auto Group and was a volunteer pitching coach for Smith Post, a many time baseball clinician, and youngster's baseball coach.
“I love to compete,” Tom said, “Sports and competition carried me through lots of tough times.”
Midway through 2013, Tommy was diagnosed with stage four melanoma and spent the next year staging a monumental battle to survive.
Tommy lost his struggle with cancer on May 22, 2014.
Tommy Z will live on now in our hearts as his LIFETIME OF EXCELLENCE is enshrined in the Rome Sports Hall of Fame.