Friday, 16 September 2011 00:00
Baseball – a simple game that somehow allows us, for a few hours, to push our troubles, our fears, our sadness to the back of our minds, and bring about a sense of community, family, togetherness.
As the fall baseball season for the 15U St Ignatius Cardinals team was about to commence, the players, coaches and families presided over a small but emotional ceremony at Giese Park in Hicksville, to remember not only those who were lost during the attacks of 9/11, but also to remember those who survived and carried on, those that returned to work, returned to school, returned to the athletic field, so that those who gave their lives did not do so in vain.
The morning began with the St Ignatius Cardinals, coached by Kevin Carroll and NYPD mechanic Joe Oliveto, lined up on the third base line, donning the memorial caps of the FDNY. Their opponents, the LI Storm, coached by retired NYPD Detective 2nd Grade John McCormick, lined up on the first base line. Cardinal players Kyle Carroll and Joe Oliveto then presented Coach McCormick and his players with their own Memorial FDNY caps, and each player wore the caps during the ball game.
After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, local community (St Ignatius CYO Board Members Maria Pitonza and Frank Wawrzynksi), town (Oyster Bay Town Councilman Anthony Macagnone), county (Nassau County Legislator Rose Marie Walker) and state (NYS Assemblyman Michael Montesano) leaders were introduced and joined the LI Storm along the first base line. The day continued with a reading of the poem Miss Liberty’s Pain, written by Bayside, NY resident, and Bronx native, Jack Carroll. Introductions then continued, as honored guests retired NCPD Sergeant Frank Sullivan, retired FDNY firefighter Tom Carroll, retired FDNY Deputy Chief Bill Tracy and retired FDNY firefighter Jim Carroll joined the Cardinals on the third base line.
Honored posthumously was FDNY firefighter Tommy Orlando. While Tommy survived 9/11, where his heroics are well-documented, he passed suddenly and tragically three years ago this Dec. 4.
The memorial culminated with a ceremonial first pitch, with Jim Carroll and Thomas Orlando (Tommy’s son) serving as the batter.
As he walked behind home plate to catch the first pitch, Jim was presented with St. Ignatius Cardinals jersey #32, to commemorate Ladder 32 near Gun Hill Rd in the Bronx, where he served for most of his career, and to honor his commitment as a long time baseball and basketball coach for St. Ignatius as well as his service to the Hicksville community.
Thomas, prior to throwing the first pitch, was presented with St Ignatius Cardinals jersey #65, to commemorate Engine #65 on 43rd St in Manhattan, where his father Tommy served and to honor Tommy’s dedication as a coach and Hicksville community leader.
The day continued with a spirited nine-inning baseball game and concluded with a picnic for our guests and Cardinal family.
Sept. 11 – a date that will always be marred by tragedy, fear, anger; but for a few hours on a beautiful Sunday morning, we were all brought together by baseball, united as one.