Buffalo's Tony Masiello: College Basketball Player and Mayoral Hall of Famer

Tony Masiello, l’ex-sindaco di Buffalo, NY, è stato recentemente onorato nel “Mayoral Hall of Fame” per il suo servizio alla città per trentacinque anni. Inoltre, è conosciuto per la sua carriera nel basket quando era all’università Canisius College. Per il lavoro da sindaco e il suo atletismo, lui è stato eletto dagli altri “Hall of Fame”, un onore che poche persone possono vantare. Questo gruppi di professionali sono: Cardinal Dougherty High School Hall of Fame, Canisius College Hall of Fame, Pre-70s All-Century Team, Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, e il Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. Questi onori sono notevoli perché secondo lui non ha ancora finito di raggiungere i suoi obiettivi. 

Few hall-of-famers are recognized as honorees in two professions. Former Buffalo Mayor Tony Masiello accomplished that and much more in his celebrated life in Canisius College basketball history and in public service for 35 years, including three four-year terms as mayor.

As the eldest of seven children, much was expected of first born son Tony, per traditional Italian credo. Hence, a young Masiello was summoned into action soon after his birth in 1947. He was raised and bred for leadership as a promising youngster on Buffalo’s Italian West Side in the 1950s and 60s, residing at 1336 West Ave., nestled in a blue collar, hard-working neighborhood. Basketball was young Masiello’s first love. He and his brothers practiced their skills in the backyard, using a hoop that their father nailed to a tree.

Young Masiello learned about caring and education from his mother, Bridget. He learned about the importance of rigor and commitment by observing his father, Dan, embracing his work ethic as a 30-year city sanitation worker. 

Masiello was the first of the family to attend Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary School, a small, two-story building that had no gym but was located close enough to home so Mrs. Masiello could watch her children walk to school. Tony and his younger brother, Vito, led the school’s basketball team to its first diocesan championship. 

To no one’s surprise, Masiello earned basketball scholarships at Cardinal Dougherty High School and then at Canisius College. “Tony always showed that fighting spirit. I knew then Tony had great leadership, not just because he was tall and good-looking, even ruddy, but he was always a gentleman, respectful, and very appreciative,” remembers former Coronation Monsignor Richard S. Amico.

Masiello recalled having dreams of playing professional basketball. “I spent all day and night in gyms and playgrounds throughout the city of Buffalo. Sports helps you at an early age to relate to people from different neighborhoods, different colors, and different walks of life.”

Masiello was a three-year starter at Cardinal Dougherty, averaging 18 points as a junior and was league-leading scoring champ in 1965 with 21 points per game. He led his team to the Manhattan Cup Championship in 1963, was runner-up in 1965, and named to the All-Tourney team at the Hoyle Tournament in PA.

At Canisius College, Masiello helped lead Griffs’ teams to victories over powerhouse competitors. He was selected as the 15th all-time best at the Canisius College 150 Sesquicentennial Anniversary in 2019.

In his final game against Niagara, Masiello amazingly netted 35 points. “I owed this game to my school – Canisius. I also owe it to my coaches, Mr. MacKinnon and Mr. Markey. I am deeply moved by it all. I am happy, and I am sad – happy because we won and sad because, for me, it’s all over. My basketball career at Canisius is over. I will never forget my four years at Canisius,” Masiello said passionately immediately after the game. Masiello talked about his future, “I want a chance to play basketball in the NBA or in the ABA or Europe – anywhere. I just want a chance.”

A column written by Phil Ranallo of the Buffalo Courier Express the next morning affirmed Masiello as a future hall-of-famer for Canisius College Men’s Basketball, saying for the annals and for posterity: “Tony Massiello, the Canisius College captain with the mighty heart – with his magnificent performance Saturday night against Niagara – took his place among the great Golden Griffin basketball warriors of all-time. The gallant young man truly belongs.” 

Coach MacKinnon emoted a heartfelt compliment to Masiello after his last game, “Tony is one of the greatest, most dedicated players I’ve ever coached. With Tony, from the first game he played for me right through tonight, it’s always been the same. It’s been the team first and Tony second.”

Masiello earned his bachelor’s degree from Canisius College in 1969, and was drafted in the third round and played for the Indiana Pacers of the ABA in the 1969-70 season. 

Deservingly, Masiello was inducted into the Cardinal Dougherty High School Hall of Fame, Canisius College Hall of Fame (1982) and to the school’s Pre-70s All-Century Team (2019), Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame (2007), and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Hall of Fame (2012). Masiello is married to Kathleen (nee McCue). The couple has two daughters, Ariel and Madeline. He has a daughter, Kim, with his first wife, Donna Abraham. Presently, Masiello is the president of Masiello, Martucci, and Associates, a governmental lobbying firm in Buffalo.