Friday, 29 June 2012 00:00
Nuzzi Field was transformed into “Legends Park” last weekend as the New Hyde Park Little League paid tribute not only to its star ballplayers, but laid the red carpet for heroic war veterans who have been named 2012 Little League Hall of Fame inductees.
First was New York Police Department Detective Kevin Brennan, of Garden City Park, who was critically injured in the line of duty, and All-American softball pitcher Olivia Galati of Hofstra University.
As the Sixth Annual New Hyde Park All Star Saturday unfolded, fans were treated to four great games as the youngsters played their hearts out at the majestic Nuzzi Field (of which kudos must certainly go to New Hyde Park Department of Public Works Superintendent Tom Gannon, Sean Murphy, and the entire DPW crew for maintaining the field).
The pageantry began with former New Hyde Park Little League president Bob Hodgsen tossing the ceremonial first pitch before the Girls Minors contest.
As the tight game drew to a close, fans got to enjoy the sight of the young ladies dancing to the music between innings with the numerous mascot costumes (courtesy of Ruby’s Costumes who along with Sakowich Plumbing, The Inn At New Hyde Park, Sport Loft, Umbertos of New Hyde Park and All Island Transportation who were sponsors).
The Boys Minors game was played before a packed house where the New Hyde Park community came out to say “thank you” to the most noble and heroic of men – the veterans.
One of the themes of this year’s program was the service of baseball greats, and in particular, Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller (who was among the most highly decorated serviceman in the US Navy during WWII). The goal of event organizers was to pay tribute to Bob Fellers and show the young children how much we appreciate the efforts of this entire generation of iron men who gave it their all.
With pride, also recognized were local heroic combat veterans. Men like Commander Smolenski VFW No. 8031 who called the color guard. Bob Christman (an infantryman in Korea) and combat veterans like Mario Obertis and Bill Hothan who were in Germany along with Benny Messina who was at the invasion of the Philippines with General Macarthur. At that battle America lost 12,000 Army and 5,000 Navy soldiers.
Also welcomed was Mario DeCute (whose destroyer ship was on course to ram a German submarine and scored a direct hit sinking the sub for a major American victory at sea).
Finally, tossing out the ceremonial first pitch was Stan Sichel who was a former pilot of a B-29 and a man who flew 18 combat missions over Japan. These outstanding men represent what has come to be known as “The Greatest Generation” and if not for them, we would never be able to enjoy a day like this.
New Hyde Park Little League introduced its 2012 Hall of Fame, which was established a few years ago, to honor the memory of those special people who have given so much to community.
This year’s inductees were longtime sponsors Sakowich Plumbing, The Inn At New Hyde Park, Vice President of Baseball Operations and behind the scenes mainstay Vinnie Grunert, and the very first New York State Girls Championship Team – the 2008 Girls Seniors team.
Tossing out the ceremonial first pitch was New York Police Detective Kevin Brennan, of Garden City Park, who on the night of Jan. 31 was one of three plainclothed officers responding to shots fired in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. He chased one of three men they saw running into an apartment building when officer Brennan was critically injured when he was shot in the head with a .38-caliber handgun.
It is because of the courageous actions of Detective Brennan and so many like him that this community gathered to say “thank you.”
Kevin Brennan represents many in our town who have taken an oath to protect us day and night without consequence and residents of New Hyde Park and Garden City Park will never waver in their support.
The fourth and final game presented the Girls Majors Division many of whom were part of the celebrated run to the Eastern regional championship a few years back. The ladies welcomed a surprise guest in Hofstra University superstar and NCAA All-American pitcher Olivia Galati. For the past two months, the Hofstra University Softball Team has enjoyed a magical journey which captivated the hearts of girl softball players throughout New York State and especially on Long Island.
Hofstra made it all the way to the Super-Regionals (which is the softball equivalent of The Final Four). When all was said and done, they were one win away from the College World Series and finished the season as the number 16 ranked team in the country.
Hofstra was led by Galati, a gutsy pitcher that her coach now calls “Secretariat.” She is a relentless competitor who has grown stronger. She is a pitcher born and raised on Long Island and one who amassed 378 strikeouts in 280 innings.
She has emerged as one of the best collegiate pitchers in the entire country and her 0.95 ERA was tops in the nation. She finished just one victory shy of the NCAA record for consecutive wins in a season and is a reigning three-time Colonial Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year and all-time leader in strikeouts at Hofstra University. Her selection as an NCAA Division 1-First-Team All-American was the first time in school history.
With great pride, we salute New Hyde Park Little League and all its “stars” on a tremendous day.