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Baldinger Football Camp on Saturday, July 17

Local Youngsters Learn Pigskin Skills From NFL Stars

Last year, the Kiwanis Club of Massapequa celebrated the 10th annual Baldinger Football Clinic, named for the three Massapequa brothers who all played in the National Football League.

This Saturday, the clinic begins its second decade. On July 17, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., the football clinic will be held at John Burns Park on Merrick Road. Former Buffalo Bill star Gary Baldinger will host the event. He will be joined by Massapequa Mustang coaches, plus selected high school, college, and NFL players. Cost of the clinic is $45 at the day of the event. For information, call 795-7911 or 797-4125.

This year, the clinic is being co-sponsored by the Kiwanis Club and Massapequa Mustangs Youth Football Program. With the Baldinger brothers imparting football knowledge gained by years playing at both Division I college ball and in the NFL, the clinic emphasizes football fundamentals. The clinic is open to all youths, 6-14 years old, regardless of their residence. Over the past decade, over 1,600 youths have participated in the clinic, which offers a day of football and fun in a clean, non-contact, non-competitive positive environment. The clinic is broken down into 10 skills stations. In all, youngsters learn the basics of the game by men who played it on the highest professional level. They also learn the fundamentals of sportsmanship and how to be a good teammate, in this the ultimate team sport.

The clinic is an opportunity for the Baldinger brothers to donate their time and talents to their hometown, a place that has supported them throughout the years. As important, all proceeds will benefit Massapequa Sports youth programs.

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.