Written by Vinny Messana Friday, 26 October 2012 00:00
The 8-year-old boys on the Redmen baseball club have displayed maturity beyond their years while helping the less fortunate off the field and dominating games on the field. They recently won their Columbus Day tournament with an impressive 5-0 record, but have really contributed to the community off the field that has not gone unnoticed by the communities in Nassau County.
Just 18 months ago, the team was compiled from scratch, gathering “friends of friends” as Head Coach Ralph Bonelli described it. There were no tryouts conducted, rather a collection of talented boys interested in joining the team. The players are from Mineola, New Hyde Park, Williston Park, Albertson and Roslyn. It is a rather serious commitment for the boys, who have played baseball beginning in the spring, continuing through the summer and fall, which transitioned into their winter workouts that are held at Unlimited Sports in Port Washington. The boys have learned to play together and have become a very close group of friends.
They put on a fantastic showing at their most recent tournament, which was held on Columbus Day weekend at Marino Field in Oyster Bay. The team amassed a perfect 5-0 record throughout the weekend, a difficult task at any level.
“Naming any one particular player as a key contributor would be a disservice to the other boys,” said Bonelli. “It was truly a team effort. There was great defense played and timely hitting in an all-around great effort. There are no superstars on the team, just a bunch of winners.”
Winning baseball games, however, has not been their only accomplishment in recent times. They have also made an impact in the surrounding communities. At the end of last season they held a lollipop and band-aid drive for the pediatric patients at Winthrop’s Cancer Center for kids. They also went to the Ronald McDonald house to bake desserts for families and making care packages for children in the hospital. Not to be forgotten, in a collaborative effort with the older boys on the age-9 and 10 teams, they partnered with the Caps Count Organization to bring baseball caps to underprivileged kids in South America. Coach Bonelli and Mark Ungania have helped instill values of leadership, teamwork and friendship into the boys at a young age.
Coach Bonelli has also set up a clinic between his team and Division-I Iona College located at “Play Like a Pro” facility in Hauppauge. This would be a terrific experience for the boys as they learn from some of the most talented college players in New York. The owner of the facility, Matt Guiliano, was a teammate of Bonelli during their collegiate careers at Iona. Both had standout careers, ranking among the top-10 in several school records. During his playing days from 1991 to 1994, Bonelli amassed 17 wins, 147 strikeouts, and a 3.80 ERA in 32 games started.
The Redmen have come a long way in a short period of time, and there’s no telling where they can end up. With the guidance of Ralph Bonelli and the rest of the team dads, the Redmen have made an impact on-and-off the field. They have represented their towns well and shown that contributing your time to the less fortunate is every bit as important to succeeding on your own.