Written by D.F. Karppi Friday, 16 April 2010 00:00
“Is this not a great day to be a kid in Oyster Bay?” asked Bob Santos of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Youth Athletic Association (OB-ENYAA) as he opened the dedication ceremony for the Marino Fields on Saturday, April 10. He thanked every local group that partnered with them, and the town for making it happen. He asked for a moment of silence for OB-ENYAA board member Phil Robertson who he said was a key founder of the group.
Mr. Santos said, the field was an example of what happens when residents get together to make a thing happen. He invited the Little League players to come out on the field, reminding them to walk in the dirt and not on the new sod. “Let’s preserve the grass,” he said.
The youngsters came out in team groups and lined the dirt paths from base to base. “Slide in down to second base,” said one of the coaches.
During the earlier part of the morning, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto commented on the field saying, “I’m a natural grass man myself.” Other people commented that, “It’s real grass, even spongy feeling underfoot. The way it’s supposed to be.”
Supervisor Venditto called up town officials to stand beside him on the mound as he said, “You can’t do this without all the officials of the town board.” He introduced newest board member Rebecca Alesia; and Councilwoman Elizabeth F. Faughnan; Councilmen Chris Coschignano and Joe Pinto and Town Clerk Steve Labriola. They were all given Oyster Bay baseball caps by OBEN YAA board member Andrew Galgano.
Mr. Venditto said, without the efforts of the late Senator Ralph Marino, all this would have been impossible. “Everything he did is as relevant today as when he carried them out during that career of his.” He acknowledged the Marino family and relatives who were attending: the family of Ethel Bernstein Marino, Jack, Eve and their son Neil; as well as Abe and Adrienne Bernstein; and Ralph and Ethel’s children Bob, Judy and Jim, the family archivist who was busy taking photographs of the day.
“It is important for all to remember it’s through the efforts of Senator Ralph Marino that the Town of Oyster Bay was able to acquire the field, so it is fitting that we dedicate it today, to his memory. It is important to remember what Senator Marino stood for,” said Mr. Venditto.
It was NYS Senator Ralph Marino who took the lead as local residents declared they didn’t want the proposed “Bridge to Rye” to cut across their lands. The state had purchased a swath of land to connect the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway [now called the Ralph Marino Expressway] and including the Berry Hill Field which was purchased from the state through the efforts of Senator Marino after the plan was finally abandoned. He had also secured the land for where the Boys & Girls Club currently is located.
Mr. Venditto said that knowing Ethel and Ralph Marino personally he knew that they would prefer him to be remembered in Oyster Bay rather than in other sites such as Washington, D.C. or Mineola.
He introduced NYS Senator Carl Marcellino who won Senator Marino’s seat in an election after his resignation from office, after a shake up of power in Albany that had taken away his well-earned position as Majority Leader.
Senator Marcellino commented that it was a chilly morning, adding, “Ralph, if you are up there, turn on the sun.” The sun didn’t shine down until the ceremony ended and the first pitch had been thrown out by Supervisor Venditto. It was caught by Ryan Santos, Bob Santos’ son.
Senator Marcellino said, “What I really like about the field is the real grass, the real field where you slide in it and get dirty. That’s what baseball is all about.”
He thanked the Marino children, Jim, Judy and Bob. He thanked the coaches for teaching the youth the sport of baseball, and introduced Judy Marino.
Judy Marino gave a short history of the family saying that her mother, Ethel mentioned that the Berry Hill field was used for sports for ages. Her mother attended the Oyster Bay schools; her father Ralph was a member of the school board; then the town board; and president of the Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce and then a senator. He worked with Owen Smith, who with his wife Bernadette, are extended members of their family.
She said Senator Marino fought to stop the Rye Bridge and acquired the Berry Hill Field and the land for the Boys & Girls Club and funding for the running track at the Vernon School for local sports and the community. She said the family will always look on this day with great pride.
Supervisor Venditto was presented with an Oyster Bay baseball cap and jacket by Bob Santos and had the honor of throwing out the first pitch, caught by Ryan Santos.
Brian McGee said it was a “nice new field and was an all-sod grass which is even more expensive to do.” He is a seven-year board member of the OB-EN YAA, and the newly retired president.
John Venditto, too, expressed pleasure about the grassy field, “It’s not that phony junk,” he said. It was a great day to remember as together, the town and the residents proudly unveiled the newly refurbished park, complete with natural grass, authentic foul poles down the base path lines, as well as home run fencing to help give the Little League members and their coaches a more authentic feel to the great game of baseball. (More photographs of the event will be in a future edition of the Enterprise Pilot.)