Friday, 09 December 2011 00:00
On Monday, Nov. 7, the Jericho Athletic Association celebrated the close of another successful baseball/softball program, with the JAA’s Annual Baseball Dinner held at the Ritz Club in Syosset.
This year, approximately 300 boys and 130 girls participated in these baseball/softball programs. Both boys and girls enjoyed free clinics offered by the JAA using professional organizations, a full slate of games and, once again, both baseball and softball players enjoyed games at home, as well as against neighboring towns. The away games provided the boys and girls in the program an intramural experience with a travel feel. The 9-and 10-year-old and 11/12 year-old boys’ teams met Syosset Baseball in the Third Annual Turnpike Challenge over Memorial Day weekend, and the children who participated were left with memories that will last a lifetime.
The dinner was a huge success, attended by over 200 people. The evening started with a surprise appearance of “Mr. Met” and was highlighted with a special guest speaker from the New York Mets: Josh Thole.
Boys and girls from kindergarten through sixth grade, along with their parents, came for an evening of lots of food and lots of fun. With over 50 gifts donated by the community, ranging from Yankees and Rangers tickets to baskets of goodies and sports equipment, all of the children and parents eagerly participated in the Chinese auction, in which they picked their favorite prizes and allocated their sheet of raffle tickets. Parents and children staked out the prizes which were available in a silent auction with items such as foursomes at many local private country clubs, signed baseballs and sports memorabilia.
The program began with JAA President Joel Sweetbaum thanking the dinner committee: Debbie and Harold Wanderman, Bret Pearlman, Steve Rothman, Matt Rothman, Jack Schnitt, Robyn Levy, Joe Velotti, Lisa Goren, Andrew Marshall, and Tom Goren. Sweetbaum then thanked the Town of Oyster Bay, and the Jericho School District for all of their support. John Venditto, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor, stopped by to wish the JAA a successful event. Superintendent of Jericho Schools Hank Grishman briefly addressed the large crowd.
The winning playoff teams of the spring’s Little League season were then awarded their championship trophies.
The highlight of the evening was the introduction of New York Mets catcher, Thole, who told the crowd that he grew up playing various sports, but baseball was his passion. Thole then answered some very interesting questions from the audience about his life as a major league baseball player, to his experience as a teammate of some of the Met players. His candor was exciting and interesting for all in attendance.
All the children had the opportunity to personally meet, and have a picture taken with him, and also received an autographed action shot of Thole catching for the Mets.
The festive night came to an end with the announcement of the winners of the door prizes, raffles and silent auction items.