Saugerties has long been a sports-centric town with a wide variety of activities for sports fans. Saugerties Sports Hall of Fame inductee Mark “Doc” Silinovich is someone who has taken advantage of just about all the sports Saugerties has to offer. Sports have always been a major aspect of his life and continue to influence him today.
In high school, Silinovich was a three-sport athlete. He played football in the fall, basketball in the winter and rounded out the school year with baseball in the spring. Although he does not have a favorite, Silinovich gives solid reasons for why he enjoys each sport so much. “Football for the aggressiveness, baseball has a little more finesse and psychology, and basketball for the speed of the game.”
He played football aggressively. He injured his hand senior year. The injury wasn’t career-ending, but it did have consequences when he tried out for his winter sport, basketball. “Usually you would get a kind of bye if you were hurt from a prior sport. They cut me first day. After they cut me, I was a little perturbed. Hank Smith came up to me, he was the wrestling coach, he said, ‘I’ll see you at wrestling practice Monday,’ and I say, ‘Oh no, you won’t.’” That year, he won the league basketball MVP award for his contributions the year before.
Silinovich also had another major sports success when the baseball team made it to the section championship. Although the Sawyers beat Poughkeepsie during the year, the rivals had to face each other again in the section championship due to the round-robin setup. Unfortunately, the Sawyers lost. Doc still remembers a key moment. “I was playing center field and our pitcher threw to this guy named Tony Johnson. He had two strikes on him, and this Tony Johnson hit this thing out of the ballpark, foul ball. I’m yelling in center field, ‘Keep it away from him!’ Pitcher threw another strike, and [Johnson] hit the homerun. Would’ve been the last out.”
However disappointing that loss may have been, it could not cast a shadow on the fond memories Silinovich has of his high school playing days: the camaraderie, the glory, the rivalries. He spoke about one instance concerning the Saugerties-Kingston football rivalry. “I had some friends from Kingston and they said they were going to whip up on us and we beat them good.” Sports rivalries can often create the most exciting game scenarios. Decades later, you can still hear the passion in Silinovich’s voice when he reminisces about victories over Kingston.
After high school, he moved to Washington State and immediately started work. As far as sports go, Washington did not have much to offer. In 1979 Silinovich moved back to Saugerties and got involved in many different sports organizations. “When I came back here, I got back into the local scene. Premiere league at the auditorium at the high school, flag football, softball, had some basketball half-court leagues.” He also played on teams with current Saugerties Sports Hall of Fame members Jerry Malgieri and Rich Koegel. “I played with those guys and we won quite a few events.”
Silinovich worked in construction, so he didn’t have the time to commit to a team like the Saugerties Dutchmen, but that did not stop him from getting involved in a sport. He decided to join a local A-league softball team. “I had a little competition with my brother about batting averages. I won the batting title that year with a .564 batting average. So my brother took my bat and cut it open to see if it was corked. I had to end up welding it back together after I proved him wrong.”
His proudest moment would come later. “One of the things I’m most proud of is when I switched over to golf, winning seven times Ulster County Seniors for my flight out of the whole county. I didn’t start playing golf until I was 40 years old, so it was pretty cool.”
Golf has remained a passion for Silinovich. He even plays with fellow 2015 inductee, Randy Nilsen. “One of the things I love about golf is that you’re one-on-one with the course. You can play against the field or the guys.”
Golf is such a mental sport, and people are often fooled by how difficult it really is. “That ball is not even moving and it’s kind of hard. A buddy of mine when I first started playing golf said to me, ‘Fourteen clubs allowed in your bag. Thirteen of them will get you on the green. One of them is for half of your strokes for the round.’ Everybody tries to hit the long ball.” Silinovich’s patience on the green is a strong factor in his success.
Today he owns the successful local business Doc’s Cycle Shop. This keeps him busy, but he always finds time to keep sports in his life. He is both humbled and honored by his induction into the Saugerties Sports Hall of Fame. “I’m lucky. I stayed healthy, played a lot of sports. Played everything Saugerties had to offer pretty much. And I played on a lot of winning teams, got to play with a lot of good ballplayers.”
The deadline is May 3 to purchase tickets for the Saugerties Sports Hall of Fame Club’s 52nd annual induction banquet to be held on Saturday, May 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern. Doors open an hour prior with a cocktail reception from 5:30-6:30 p.m. This year’s inductees are Jeff Dodig, Albert Giannotti (posthumously), John Harris, Randy Nilsen and Mark “Doc” Silinovich. Tickets are available by contacting Mark Becker at (518) 641-9520 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Cost is $25. There are no ticket sales at the door.
Read about the other inductees on Saugertiesx.com