Section: LIVING TODAY Page: C4 Date: THURSDAY, June 23, 1988
BALLS, BATS - AND THE BAR ALBANY LAWYER GIVES AWAY BALLGAME TICKETS FOR PROMOTIONBy Paul Grondahl Staff writer
Caption: DIAMONDS ARE FOR EVERYONE - Randall Kehoe and Nancy Miller help Frank Catalano, center, count some of the 1,000 tickets he's giving away free to the July 1 baseball game between the Glens Falls Tigers and the Williamsport Bills.Whatta guy, that Frank Catalano. Memorize the name. You'll probably be hearing a lot more of it.
Catalano is a 29-year-old legal eagle with the instincts of a hawk whose mind seems to work only in one size - extra large. In Catalano, F. Lee Bailey meets P.T. Barnum. Catalano wanted to take a few people out to the ballgame. So he bought up 1,000 tickets that he's giving away free to the July 1 game between the Glens Falls Tigers and the Williamsport Bills at East Field in Glens Falls. But wait, there's more.
As an added bonus, Catalano will hold a drawing each inning. The lucky winners will have their choice of having Catalano either draw up their Last Will and Testament or represent them at a house-closing - choice of New York or Connecticut, of course, since Catalano is licensed in both states. If that's not enough, getta load of this. Catalano says he harbors no fear of extra innings. "What the hell? I'm only going to do this once, so I don't care if it goes 14 innings," he says. This thing is the nuts, Catalano believes. Everyone says so. "Me and Ben Bernard (former Albany-Colonie Yankees owner), we cooked this thing up one night hanging around at the Lexington Grill," Catalano says. "People love it." Not a bashful sort, Catalano took it upon himself to alert national sports editors to his plan - USA Today, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News among them. "The editors all laugh. They can't believe it. Sporting News is going to give me a blurb," Catalano says. The cynic in us might view Catalano as a self-promoter. Indeed, he did send out wedding-type announcements making note of the May establishment of his general law practice with offices in Albany and Saratoga Springs. But upon cross-examination, Catalano says the baseball promotion is nothing more than an attuned social conscience at work. "All through law school (Pace University), they used to drum into us that you've got to do pro bono work, you've got to do pro bono work," Catalano says. "This is my social duty that I'm doing. To get a lawyer to do free legal work in this day and age is like pulling teeth. Here I am giving away wills, which are worth $350, and closings, about $500." Not that Catalano expects to be embraced as a kind of Mother Teresa of the legal profession.
"I think I may take some heat, but let the grumpy old lawyers go to the Bar Association," Catalano challenges. "I checked this out. There's nothing wrong with it in the rules of ethics. But I know I'll get some calls on it. I'm ready for the negative criticism." The way Catalano sees it, he comes down in the middle road of today's wide-open lawerly style. "You look in the yellow pages. Lawyers advertise things like, 'We'll visit you in your hospital bed.' Lawyers and advertising came of age awhile ago. But what I'm doing isn't an advertisement. It's my duty as a lawyer. Press him a little harder, though, and Catalano spills the beans. The Albany High grad ('76) comes from three generations of Albany Catalanos, athletically inclined all. Young Frank finished at Pace and landed a good job doing real estate law in posh Greenwich, Conn. "The money was real good down there, but I got tired of the traffic and the hassles," he says. "All my family is in Albany. This is my home. This area has everything I need." Catalano's Albany office is in the Steuben Athletic Club, a natural setting. "I want to be a sports lawyer and this baseball promotion is a way of getting my name out among the sports people," he concedes. Catalano's dreams are anything but minor league. In baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth's recent resignation announcement, Catalano envisions a window of opportunity he will attempt to dive through. "I'm very serious about this," he says, measuring his words. "I'm going for Ueberroth's job. There have only been six baseball commissioners. I want to be the seventh."
Catalano says he's in the process of contacting all 26 major league team owners to lobby for himself. "And I know a lot of other people in pro baseball that I can talk to," Catalano says. That's not all of it. Catalano wants to work with an array of celebrities, sporting and otherwise. He says he's making some inroads with rock groups and wants to combine his love of rock and America's pasttime. "I've got this great idea called Rockin' Baseball," Catalano says. "I want to be the promoter of rock concerts after baseball games. I'm working on it hard now." In the meantime, he's got 1,000 tickets to the July 1 Glens Falls- Williamsport game littering his Steuben Athletic Club office. "I'll just start giving them out," he says. "I'll give 100 to Big Brothers, 100 to the Boy Scouts, 100 more to whomever. It shouldn't be a problem giving 1,000 away. You want a hundred?" In Catalano's mind, at least, "the big show" is right here in the Capital District.
"I think I timed my return to Albany very well," Catalano says. "Albany has been sleepy for many, many years and it's just beginning to wake up." And in this brave new world, Frank Catalano promises to set off a few alarms.