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Syosset Baseball Association Holds Annual Awards Dinner

Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim Palmer fields questions from athletes to close out 2011 season

Syosset Baseball Association held its Annual Awards Dinner to celebrate the end of the 2011 baseball season at Crest Hollow Country Club on Monday, Nov. 7. Keeping with tradition, SBA was privileged to host Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim Palmer as the guest speaker

Throughout Palmer’s stellar 20-year Hall of Fame career- all with one team, the Orioles- Palmer never surrendered back-to-back home runs or surrendered a grand slam. He was proud to hit five home runs in his career and on Monday night hit a grand slam with all those in attendance.

Attended by players from the 8-year-old travel teams through the 18-year-olds from the Senior Division, the crowd of 300 enjoyed meeting Palmer and asking questions about his stellar career.

As people arrived, they were greeted with an array of photos of prior guests to both the Syosset Baseball Association All-Star Games and Picnic as well as the Annual Awards Dinner over the past four years. These events have featured a lineup of Hall of Fame players to meet, greet and share their careers starting with Ferguson Jenkins in 2008, Bob Feller and Steve Carlton in 2009, Andre Dawson and Goose Gossage in 2010, Gaylord Perry and Jim Palmer for 2011. There are only 53 living Hall of Fame Major League Baseball Players, of which this community has provided young players with the opportunity to meet several. These icons of the game, who have made the game the way it is, give young players something to aspire to as they compete in baseball.

Raffle prizes (which were much appreciated) were donated by The New York Yankees (a signed Brett Gardner baseball), The New York Mets (four Field Box seats to a game in April 2012), The Long Island Ducks (a signed Ray Navarette baseball plus goodie bag of giveaways), and Valley Sports (sporting goods equipment.) Other raffle prizes were also available.

A silent auction of sports memorabilia was also on display. Many guests bid on items to take home and proudly display in their own shrines that they take pride in as true sports fans.

Copies of the current editions of The Syosset Advance and The Syosset- Jericho Tribune were available on each table for everyone to read and take home with them, featuring an article on the SBA: “A Year in Review,” complete with photos to help remember and reflect upon on the 2011 season.

In addition, the array of trophies for the A Division through the Seniors Division was on display as players and parents arrived inside the ballroom.

As Palmer was introduced to the crowd, a career statistics sheet was distributed to all tables to help the players truly appreciate the remarkable career of the Hall of Fame player that they were about to meet. Some of Palmer’s staggering stats, which will be difficult to match in this modern baseball age, include:

-Twenty years with one team.
-Never gave up a grand slam.
-Never gave up back-to-back home runs.
-Eight-time All-Star.
-Four-time Gold Glove.
-Three-time Cy Young Award Winner.
-Third Lowest ERA (earned run average) in modern day history, behind Whitey Ford and Sandy Koufax.

Players were given paper and pens to put together questions that they would like to personally ask Palmer, and approximately 20 players had that opportunity to personally ask him questions and hear great responses with the audience. The players asked how fast he threw a baseball, who he feared most pitching against, questions about steroids, as well as about Jockey underwear, for which he was a spokesperson and model for 17 years. 

At the end of the Q&A session, players were called up by number with an opportunity to personally meet Palmer, take a picture with him and receive an 8X10 autographed color photo of him with his signature high kick. Additionally, Palmer brought signed Upper Deck, Team Legends baseball cards, which he gave to each player with their signed photo.

Elected local officials paid a visit to the evening’s event to thank everyone for a great year of baseball. Attending were Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto and his team: Receiver of Taxes Jim Stefanich, Town Clerk Steve Labriola, Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia, Councilman Anthony Macagnone, and Councilman Joseph Muscarella.

The evening concluded with everyone leaving with a great memory of meeting one of the greats of the game they play, receiving their trophies and enjoying the last of baseball for 2011 before a winter break. 

The SBA would like to thank everyone who made this season another huge success, including players, managers, coaches and parents, and the SBA volunteer board members who give countless hours of their time to support the league. The SBA would also like to acknowledge Supervisor Venditto and his team for the use of the Town of Oyster Bay fields, Mr. Charles Abner, director of school facilities and his team from Syosset Central Schools for the use of the Syosset school fields, and the field maintenance team headed by board members Larry Meltzer and Doug Mayer for maintaining the fields throughout the year.

The SBA would also like to recognize the commissioners for making sure their respective divisions functioned with no problems, executive director Artie Johansen who puts the Annual All-Star Games and Picnic together, and treasurer Mike Lipstein who ensures that everything runs smoothly financially.

Other thanks go out to local newspapers The Syosset Advance and The Syosset-Jericho Tribune as well as Syosset Patch for their support and coverage of the league throughout the entire year, and all of the umpires. Town of Oyster Bay Syosset Woodbury Park Director of Operations Frank Panetta and his team are recognized for helping to make the Syosset-Woodbury Park fields always pristine and give the league help and cooperation it needs. Finally, the league would like to thank all scoreboard operators for the scoreboard at Syosset-Woodbury Park (as well as their parents for getting them there on time.)

It’s that time of the season when the league switches focus from the concluded year to the upcoming year. 2012 registration, as well as evaluations for the 2012 teams in the A Division through Major Leagues, is coming up, and it won’t be long before managers are appointed, teams selected and opening day games start. The opening game of the 2012 season will be a Major League Division face-off between the teams that competed for the championship, Woodbury Sports vs. Verizon.

More information will be forthcoming shortly via e-mail, local papers, and online at www.syossetbaseball.org.