Mel Palano

High School Coach

Mel Palano’s outstanding contributions to High School sports in Buffalo have long reserved for him a place among the area’s athletic elite in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.

A Buffalo native, Palano was born in 1925 to Anthony and Mary Palano, who had emigrated from Italy. He attended School #1 and St. Louis School as a young man. Later, he would attend Burgard Vocational School, where he played varsity basketball, baseball, and ran on the school’s cross-country team, which went undefeated in his three years.

Drafted into the Navy at the age of 18, Palano would serve after his high school graduation in such infamous World War II battles as Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

After his discharge in 1946, Palano attended the University at Buffalo, where he graduated with a degree in physical education in 1949. Soon after receiving his degree, he was hired by Bishop Timon High School, where he would teach, coach and serve as Athletic Director until his retirement in 1989.

In the 33 years as the school’s varsity basketball coach, Palano won 544 of 746 games for an unbelievable 77 percent winning percentage, making him the all-time winningest high school basketball coach in Western New York. During that time, he led his teams to 16 league titles and nine Manhattan Cup championships, and was runner-up 14 times.

Success for Palano was not restricted to the basketball court, however. As varsity baseball coach he led his teams to six league titles and four Georgetown Cup Championships. Palano also initiated the Catholic Indoor Track and Cross Country leagues, with his harriers winning thirteen cross-country league titles. Before his retirement in 1989, Palano had coached 37 years at Bishop Timon High School in Buffalo.