He stood just 5-5, but his height never mattered to Falconer native Joe Mistretta.
As a three-sport star at Falconer Central School during the mid-1970s, Mistretta left a legacy that any athlete would be proud of. Despite his small stature, he played with incredible tenacity and his talents in football, basketball and baseball earned him 11 letters through his time at FCS.
His athletic ability came to light in the Falconer Little League from 1968 to 1970 where he was a starter at second base and earned all-star honors. In 1969-1970, he was selected to the Moose All-Star team both years, Later, he moved on to Falconer Babe Ruth as a second baseman and a pitcher and was a three-time all-star from 1971-73, Mistretta also played in the state championship game in Albany in 1973.
As for football, from 1968 to 1971, he was an all-star halfback in midget football, played on three undefeated teams and led his team in scoring in 1970-71.
He also had an outstanding career as one of the area's best softball players, playing on three modified national championship teams, the first two as a member of the Jock Shop team and the third with Fudge's Sub Shop and was a first-team All-American seven times.
At Falconer, Mistretta was a terror on the football field, winning four letters as starter at halfback and defensive back. He was an all-league selection from 1974-1976 and the league's scoring champion in 1975-76, He also played on three undefeated teams (1974-76) and was named the league's offensive MVP as a senior in 1976 and an All-Western New York selection and a second-team all-state selection.
During his time as a Golden Falcon, Mistretta's teams were 31-1-1.
Mistretta and teammate Steve Garvey, also an all-star performer, were a terrific duo. Garvey ran for 1,000 yards while Mistretta took the bumps and bruises as a blocker but when he had the opportunity to touch the ball, he made the most of it. In 1975, he ran for 433 yards and 11 touchdowns. It was a regular sight to see Mistretta take off for the end zone, leaving defenders out of breath as they tried to catch up with him.
In basketball, Mistretta was a four-year starter at the point and remains the all-time leader in assists and seventh in scoring. He was a first-team All League selection in 1976, averaging 19.7 points per game. In 1976, he had back-to-back games of 32 and 35 points.
Despite being ineligible to play during his junior year, Mistretta still had an outstanding three-year stint in baseball and was named All-League each year and All-Western New York in 1976. He also held the team's highest batting average, led in RBIs and was an MVP all three years.
After graduation from Falconer, Mistretta moved on to Arizona Western Junior College on a baseball scholarship where he started at second base as a freshman and batted .369. He also batted .410 as a sophomore, held a .975 fielding percentage mark and was named second team all-league.
From 1979-1981, Mistretta attended Chapman College in Orange, California, on a scholarship and hit .334 as a junior and battled through an injury-plagued senior year to hit .302. He was an honorable mention selection at second base and had a .950 fielding percentage.
In 1987, Jamestown Community College's baseball team needed a coach and Mistretta took the job. During his five seasons at the helm, JCC finished second in their league each year. He helped place more than 50 players in four-year schools after JCC, coaching two NJCAA All-Americans in Sean Evans and Rob Stam. Evans and another JCC product, Todd Fenton, were pro draft picks and went on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds.
Mistretta left JCC and became the assistant baseball coach at Frewsburg Central School in 1993-94. He was the assistant and junior varsity coach at Warren High School from 1995-97 and was promoted to head baseball coach in Warren, a position he held from 1998 to 2002, where his teams made four sectional appearances and had a winning percentage of .660. He also produced five Division 1 players.
Mistretta's ties to football remain strong as ever. He's been the assistant varsity football coach with fellow Falconer graduate Mark Petersen since 1997 at Cassadaga Valley Central School. He also coaches the junior varsity baseball team at CVCS and is in his ninth year as a Chautauqua County basketball official.
Joe Mistretta was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.