Tonawanda News — Tonawanda's Joseph Michalics Jr. will be inducted as a member of the University at Buffalo's 40th Hall of Fame class on April 19.
Michalics — a two-time baseball captain and team MVP — led the Bulls to 66 victories over four seasons, just a few years after Buffalo reinstated its baseball program. He was the first player in the history of the program to record 200 hits, finishing with 234 and a .322 career batting average.
He was drafted in the 34th round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the New York Mets.
"When I first heard about (being inducted), I was surprised." Michalics said. I got goosebumps."
Michalics was not highly recruited out of high school. To be looked at for baseball in Western New York, he said a player must network.
While playing at Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School, the team had many older players who were recruited by UB — such as John Sullivan, Mark McMahon and Brendan Dunford. Michalics' relationship with those players sparked his interest in t Buffalo, along with the coaching staff.
"Coach (Bill) Breene and coach (Ron) Torgalski — they showed interest in me," Michalics said. "It felt good to know someone wanted you."
Michalics called Breene his biggest supporter. He was the man who brought Michalics to UB and the two shared one of his fondest memories on the diamond.
"First weekend of freshman year, we played Southern Penn," Michalics said. "Breene was an alumni (of Southern Penn) and recently inducted into their hall of fame. I think they were ranked in the top 25 and we picked up a win against them; I knew how much that meant to him."
Following his senior season, Baseball America ranked him as the 16th best prospect in New York state. Michalics was drafted by the New York Mets in the 34th round — making him the first Bulls' baseball player since 1986 to sign a Major League contract.
The two had been in communication leading up to the draft, but Michalics found out he was drafted before the Mets even called.
A friends called him to offer congratulations. Michalics was confused, being that the Mets hadn't informed him yet. He originally thought his friend was pulling a prank before the phone rang again.
"I got the phone call from the Mets and they asked me, 'do you want to play on the next level?'" Michalics said. "And I said 'of course.' I was in shock and just thrilled. I couldn't have been happier."
Michalics played minor league baseball in the Mets' farm system in 2005 and then played independent ball in 2006 and 2007.
After his baseball career, he rekindled his passion for basketball.
Over college breaks, Michalics assisted at Bishop Timon-St. Jude with his long-time friend and mentor — boys basketball coach Jim Palano. Following his retirement in 2012, Michalics — who was involved with Tigers' basketball for 10 years — took over as the full-time head coach. He also serves as an assistant on the football staff.
Outside of coaching, Michalics is married with two young boys — 3-year-old Matthew and a 9-month-old Lucas.
At the time of Michalics' graduation, he held the school record for runs (136), along with single-season school records for hits (76, 2004) and runs (43, 2004).
The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is free of charge at Alumni Arena on April 19. Reception begins at 6 p.m. and the ceremony starts at 6:45.Contact the Tonawanda News sports desk at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find us on Twitter @tonanewssports.