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10th Anniversary for Football Clinic

Local Youngsters Learn Pigskin Skills From NFL Stars

While many Massapequa residents spend the summer rooting for either the Yankees or the Mets, some folks have football on their minds even during the dog days of July.

This year, the Kiwanis Club of Massapequa held its Annual Baldinger Football clinic, one designed to raise funds for young programs in the area.

The clinic was a special one, as it marked the 10th anniversary of the highly successful sports program.

This year, the clinic took place on July 18 at Burns Park. About 100 youngsters attended.

Youngsters who attended the camp learn the basics of the game by men who played it on the highest professional level. They also learned the fundamentals of sportsmanship and how to be a good teammate, in this the ultimate team sport.

The clinic is run by Kiwanis Club member and former National Football League star, Gary Baldinger. This year, Gary was joined at the camp by his older brother, Brian, also a veteran of the NFL battles.

As all sports fans in Massapequa know, Gary and Brian aren’t the only Baldingers who starred on the NFL gridiron. Richard Baldinger, who is only a year younger than Brian, also played in the NFL.

All three Baldinger brothers are graduates of Massapequa High School, as they helped to set a standard of excellence there that continues to this day. That is true not just on the football squad, but as evident in last week’s story in The Massapequan Observer on the highlights from the past school year, in all team and individual sports.

A Three Brother Act

While it is not unusual for the NFL or other pro sports to feature brother acts, having three brothers in the same professional league is very rare. Major League Baseball had the three DiMaggio brothers (Joe, Dominic, and Vince), plus the three Alou brothers (Felipe, Matty, and Jesus), but three brothers in the NFL is unprecedented.

Gary Baldinger was a defensive tackle who played six seasons in the NFL. A graduate of Wake Forest University, Gary was a ninth-round pick in the 1986 draft. He spent two years with the Kansas City Chiefs, one year with the Indianapolis Colts, before completing his career with two years playing for the Buffalo Bills.

As a member of the Bills, Gary played alongside such defensive stalwarts as Bruce Smith, Darryl Talley, Shane Conlan and Cornelius Bennett. He was also a teammate of Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and James Lofton.

In Buffalo, Gary was a member of two American Football Conference (AFC) championship teams. He played in both the 1991 and 1992 Super Bowls.

Brian Baldinger was the first brother to make it to the NFL. After playing football at Nassau Community College, he transferred to Duke University, where he graduated in 1982. Brian went undrafted in that year’s NFL draft, but that hardly deterred his determination to play at the pro level. He was offered a free agent contract by the Dallas Cowboys to come to training camp, where he promptly earned a roster spot on Tom Laundry’s squad. Brian spent five years playing for the America’s Team. From 1988-1991, he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts, and from 1992-1993, he wound up his 11-year career as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brian was an offensive lineman throughout his NFL career, a position that his younger brother, Richard, would also excel at. Richard preceded Gary at Wake Forest, where he graduated in 1982. The New York Giants drafted Gary on the 10th round in the 1982 draft. He spent the next two years protecting Phil Simms from defensive lineman and opening up holes for Rob Carpenter and Joe Morris. The bulk of Brian’s career was spent with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he played from 1983 to 1992. Not only was Brian an offensive lineman like his brother Brian, he also ended his career in 1993, this time as a member of the New England Patriots. During his superb career, Richard played in 157 games, starting in 107 of them.

Even though the Baldingers are retired from football, their legacy in their hometown remains a strong and positive one, inspiring generations of local youngsters.