Marc Brown, Kenny Hasbrouck, and Billy Harrell are getting some company in the rafters of the Times Union Center. Siena announced today that Fred Shear ‘73 will be joining the trio as one of now only four former Siena players to receive the honor of having their number retired. Shear will be honored at halftime of the Saints game against LaSalle on December 29th at the Times Union Center.
We had the chance to interview Fred about his career and his feelings on receiving this high honor from Siena. Here is our exclusive interview with Fred.
4GIB: Tell us a bit about your childhood, where you developed your basketball roots. and who you looked up to.
Fred: “Like all kids in Waterford, growing up you played in both the St. Mary’s CYO league and the Saturday morning Waterford Youth Council league. Everyone was Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell and Wilt. I was not very good in those days. However, my father found a pole, made a wooden backboard, welded together a rim, and blacktopped an area in our backyard. At night we would put spotlights on top of the garbage cans to “light things up”. I think we had patient neighbors. Once I graduated from our backyard, my brother Jim, who also played at Waterford, took over the backyard court. I was a much better baseball player and really never thought about playing basketball in high school. We had our own neighborhood “sandlot” and played baseball every day. After 4 years of varsity baseball, I was offered to play in the Cape Cod League.”
4 GIB: Describe your high school career playing at Keveny and Waterford:
Fred: “My mother wanted me to go to Keveny in Cohoes. At the time she was good friends with the Monsignor, Father Mulqueen. I played on the Freshman and J.V. teams and I did okay – nothing to write home about. My mother knew I had always wanted to go to Waterford and gave me the green light to transfer. Most of the guys I grew up with were attending Waterford. We had very good teams there. My Junior year we were undefeated in the league as we had a couple outstanding seniors on the team. I believe we won the league my senior year as well. I had a great young coach, John Anderson, who played at Wake Forest for the legendary Bones McKinney. It was under Coach Anderson that I learned to be a scorer and rebounder. I was fortunate enough that year to be on Bob McNamara’s FIRST All-Star team. It was always a good thing to have Bob McNamara on your side!”
4 GIB: What was the recruiting process like and what led you to choose Siena?
Fred: “I was not heavily recruited out of high school. Waterford was a very small school and we played out of the Central Hudson Valley League – not a real good combination for getting noticed. I did, however, get a letter of interest from Davidson College who was coached at that time by Charles “Lefty” Driesell. When all was said and done my choice was between Siena and Loyola of Montreal. Once again this was an easy decision for my mother to make. She said the Franciscans will take good care of you – you will be in good hands. The jury may still be out on that one!”
4GIB:Tell us about your fondest Siena memories on and off the court:
Fred: “On the court would have to be our win at Seton Hall my Senior year. It was Coach Bill Kirsch’s first game at Siena and it was great to get him a win on the road vs. a “name” school. Their coach at that time was Bill Raftery, the current college analyst. It was a really great atmosphere playing there.
Off the court was something that happened on a daily basis – just being around all our friends; both commuters and dormers. It was 4 great years and they were great because the people were great. Siena has always been the type of school that fosters lifelong friendships. I still enjoy informal reunions at trackside in August, and see teammates T.J. Sheridan, Jack Quinn, and Din Cahill throughout the year.”
4GIB How has the game changed since you played and as a great shooter and scorer, how would have a shot clock and 3-point line impact your game?
Fred: “Sometimes I feel as if the shooting is not as good; but then I think, well maybe the defense is that much better. It is very difficult to compare eras in the sport of basketball. The shot clock would not have affected our game at all. We really didn’t keep it too long on any possession. Obviously the 3-pt line has changed the entire game. It would have made a big difference on our game as well. I suspect I would have scored a few more points, as would a few of my teammates, including Rod Brooks and Steve Walters. During my Junior year we scored 120 against St. Michael’s (Vermont) and my Senior year we came right back against them and scored 106 pts. However, we were beaten! Can you imagine scoring 106 and not getting a victory? Must have not been a good defensive effort that night!!!”
4GIB: What makes Siena special to you as a college and as a basketball program?
Fred: “Siena College will always remain an important part of my life. The education, values, Franciscan tradition, and friendships developed at the college continue to grow today. I had the good fortune of being part of the basketball program. The college has always held high standards for its athletic programs, and this continues today as well. A student-athlete with a Siena education is well grounded for life.”
4GIB: What role has basketball played in your life after Siena?
Fred: “I have pretty much always stayed involved in basketball since Siena. Early on I played in all the adult leagues and tourneys. However, broken ankles, ruptured Achilles tendons, and knee operations brought my playing days to a screeching halt. I have coached in numerous youth leagues, the Saratoga YMCA and at the JV and Varsity level at Saratoga Springs High School. Currently I am the Assistant Coach for the Ballston Spa Boys Varsity Program.”
4GIB: Tell us about your life after Graduating from Siena:
Fred: “Following graduation I worked in the Siena College Admissions Office. I then began my business career with Armour-Dial Corp., Alcon Surgical, and completed 30+ years with the Kimberly-Clark Corp. In addition to my mother, father, and brother; my two sisters, Marianne Caruso and Marlene Drobnicki are avid Siena fans. My wife, Christine Luciano, and I have been married for 37 years. Our son, Frederick and his wife Silvia reside in Falls Church, VA.”
4GIB: To what extent have you remained connected with Siena and Siena Basketball?
Fred: “I have always stayed connected to Siena in one way or another. I have had season tickets since the mid-70’s. My wife’s uncle, Father Peter Fiore, has been a professor/scholar at Siena since 1956. Father Fiore married my wife and me 37 years ago, as well as my son and his wife in 2010. The President of Siena, Father Kevin Mullen, played on the Siena JV team when I was a member of the Varsity team. I like to tell people that not only do I personally know the President of the College, but I still carry around a few “black and blues” from when he would rough me up under the boards. I know that God works in strange ways, but I never really believed him when he told me that he was only doing the work of St. Francis!!”
4GIB: What was your reaction to leaning your number was being retired at Siena? And what does it mean to you?
Fred: “As I previously mentioned, clearly this is a great individual honor and one that I most graciously accept. It is also a tremendous team honor. It speaks volumes about the type of teammates and coaches I had from 1969-73. This honor will be accepted on behalf of all my teammates and coaches during my four years at Siena College. We are all extremely grateful.”
4GIB: Finally for fun we have to ask, have you ever heard of a more ridiculous name for a basketball fan website than 4guysinblazers?
Fred: “Actually, as long as you guys remember that it’s really “4guysinGREENblazers”, you should be fine. Your site is extremely informative and very current. I particularly enjoy the articles/videos on the new players, as well as the updates on Siena’s next opponent. Keep up the great work!”
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