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“The Hawk” Visits Syosset Baseball’s All-Star Games and Picnic

Syosset Baseball Association’s Annual All-Star Games and Picnic honoring Brian Murphy, a Syosset Baseball Association player who passed away several years ago, took place at Syosset-Woodbury Park on Saturday, May 29.

This festive day had a “Hawk” landing at the park with the arrival of a special guest, soon to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Andre “The Hawk” Dawson.

The day started off with several board members, under the direction of All-Star Games and Picnic Chairman, Artie Johansen, getting the tables, chairs, barbecues and food together as the park opened at 7 a.m. Director of Field Maintenance, Larry Meltzer and his team, started to ready both the front fields, as well as the turf field, for the day’s games. New banners were prominently displayed including the special Brian Murphy Memorial All-Star Games banner in center field as well as two Modell’s banners at each field.

As the players in the 8-year-old games started to assemble on the field at 8:30 a.m., Bagel Master of Syosset provided complimentary bagels and coffee for the early arriving players and families, which has become a tradition.

As the teams assembled on their respective lines for the playing of the national anthem, the colors were presented by Cub Scout Pack 168 in center field. Members of the A.P. Willits band and chorus played or sang the national anthem for each game throughout the day. Upon the conclusion of the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem, Tom Hopke, one partner of The Great American Baseball Company (whose company runs the summer baseball instructional camp in late August) threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Great American Baseball Company is the organization that will be running the Inaugural Graduate League, starting at the beginning of the summer for ages 7-11. Mr. Hopke was on hand to answer any questions players and parents might have about this new and exciting program.

This was the first year that the 8-year-olds played on the premier 60-foot field at Syosset-Woodbury Park, complete with umpires, balls, strikes, score keeping and a scoreboard. It was a thrill for the kids.

At the conclusion of the 8-year-olds’ games, the grills, manned by Syosset Baseball board members, were ready and raring to go with the start of the hamburgers and hot dogs for the day. All players and parents were invited down to the shuffleboard area, which traditionally is transformed into a barbecue pit. Complimentary hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon slices, drinks and snacks were available to feed all the families after a well-deserved and well-played game.

As the 9-year-old division games got under way, the first of several guests arrived on the scene. Quackerjack always seems to find his way to the Memorial All-Star games and picnic event (perhaps he too enjoys the barbecue that he’s been a part of for several years, and wouldn’t miss the moment to join the Syosset Baseball Association family.)

After the Pledge of Allegiance, it was Quackerjack’s turn to take his arm from “The Pond”, his home field, to Syosset-Woodbury Park and see if he would be able to throw a strike to the 9-year-old catcher for the ceremonial first pitch. After his first pitch, Quackerjack spent the next few hours walking around the park, taking pictures with guests both young and old, mingling and enjoying the afternoon.

The Junior Division took to the field at the multipurpose turf field at 10 a.m. to provide some great baseball. The American League, comprised of Astoria Federal and Chyten Educational, batted around the order in the first, scoring 6 runs, highlighted by home runs by OZ and Buetti. Two innings of dominant pitching followed from Matt Zipkowitz and Christopher Louie, with Louie being named team MVP for going 3-3 with 2 runs, 3 hits, 2 stolen bases and 2 innings pitched. The National League, comprised of Valley Sports and Zopik, rallied back, scoring 5 runs capped by Tyler Cohen’s homerun. Outstanding defensive outfield plays by Peter Meyer and Tyler Cohen and outstanding playing at first by Dan Petschauer were some of the highlights from the Nationals. Josh Weinstein was named MVP for great pitching and a 2-run bunt homerun.

Supervisor John Venditto and his staff joined Syosset Baseball for a short visit. Venditto addressed the attending crowd, thanking Syosset Baseball for everything the group does for the community, and wishing everyone an enjoyable holiday weekend filled with the great weather and fun baseball.

The 10-year-old group kicked off at 1 p.m. just as “The Hawk” descended on Syosset-Woodbury Park. As announced, Syosset Baseball Association was pleased to have Mr. Andre Dawson as their guest for the afternoon. Mr. Dawson is eagerly awaiting his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which will take place on July 25. Mr. Dawson graciously autographed 4 by 6 inch prints of himself in a Montreal Expos uniform, the team that he will be inducted in the Hall of Fame with. Mr. Dawson was accommodating to those who asked to take pictures, including Syosset Baseball’s very own Cooperstown team that will be taking their team to the Cooperstown Tournament the week prior to Mr. Dawson’s induction. Mr. Dawson threw out the ceremonial first pitch to both the 60 foot grass field and the 60 foot skin field. After the pitch, the representative catcher handed the ball to Mr. Dawson, who in turn personally autographed the ball with “Andre Dawson Hall of Fame 2010” and gave the ball back to the catcher, and asked for a camera to capture this precious moment for the catcher.

Each year, Syosset Baseball players journey up to Cooperstown, New York for a 5-day, 108 team international tournament. This year’s journey will take place prior to the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown for Mr. Andre Dawson during the week of July 22. Throughout the year, team Syosset, under the direction of this year’s manager, Tony Maracic, have been hard at work raising money for their upcoming trip. Throughout the day, the players who will be representing Syosset were out selling candy and 50/50 raffles to help raise money for their team.

Woodbury Sports was on hand with their new line of apparel. This was an opportunity for members of the baseball community who hadn’t had a chance to visit the store to personally see the new apparel and take home a piece.

Also on hand throughout the day was Mr. Bobby Jackson, community ambassador for Modell’s Sporting Goods. Mr. Jackson, a former cornerback for the New York Jets, was on hand to spend some of his day with Syosset Baseball, enjoy the day and see if any of the could meet the Modell’s Challenge: Hit the Modell’s banner and win a Modell’s gift certificate. Mr. Jackson was on hand to present a gift certificate to 9-year-old player Anthony Iraggi, who went on to hit a home run in the 9-year-old division All-Star game.

To help keep the fields damp with minimal dust blowing around, the Syosset Fire Department was on hand to water down the fields. Syosset Baseball Association would like to thank the Syosset Fire Department for their contribution to the community by being on hand to provide this service to the league.

The senior division, ages 14-17, took to the multipurpose turf field for a fun-filled afternoon of baseball starting at 1 p.m. This game has become a special day for this group, as in prior years the 8-12-year-old divisions received most of the spotlight. However in the past few years, the seniors have looked forward to being a part of the festivities with their very own All-Star game.

The flagship game of the day, the major league division game, was set to start at 3:15 p.m. First pitch, as has been the tradition, was extended to Deacon Richard Murphy, whose son Brian was honored on this day with each All-Star wearing a Brian Murphy All-Star shirt. Deacon Murphy always seems to throw a strike! Also on hand for an additional ceremonial first pitch was long-standing Syosset veteran, coordinator of the Syosset Memorial Day Parade, Gus Scutari.

The major league division’s game featured Andy Feit, Hank Jaroslawski and Larry Meltzer’s All-Stars versus Lou Del Maestro, Frank Balogh and Tony Maracic’s All-Stars. Meltzer’s All-Stars reigned, holding team Del Maestro to just 4 hits over 7 innings. John Jaroslawski, Cameron Biegel, Kyle Rosen, Jake Meltzer, Gregg Schuster and Matty Weiner all pitched for team Meltzer, providing a balanced pitching effort of no-hit pitching. Brandon Feit went 2 for 3 with 2 runs, Matt Armendinger went 2 for 3, Jack Grunberg went 2 for 2, and Griffin Laine went 2 for 2. Team Del Maestro had outstanding pitching efforts by Griffin Halpern and team MVP Jeremy Lamstein, who drove in 2 runs.

Throughout the afternoon a moon bounce and dunk tank were available for all to enjoy, including the siblings of players who were too young to participate in the All-Star games and had come to watch their older brothers play. Additionally, there was a cotton candy machine, which has become an event favorite. Many attendees who didn’t have siblings playing, but just wanted to be a part of the day’s fun, were on hand to be apart of the Syosset Baseball Association’s events.

The AAA Division game kicked off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the 2nd Annual Turnpike Challenge, featuring an All-Star group of 9- and 10-year-olds from Syosset versus an All-Star group of 9- and 10-year-olds from Jericho, as well as a group of 11/12 year olds from Syosset versus a group of 11/12 year olds from Jericho.

Jericho was looking to avenge their losses from last year, when Syosset took both games. During the 11/ 12-year-olds’ game, Syosset took the early 4-0 lead on the hitting of Bradley Clark, Chris Deluca, TJ Singh, Andrew Taffe and Jordan Kurzweil, along with pitching from Robert Santiago. Jericho fought back, and their own bullpen proved too much for Syosset to handle, as Jericho came back and held off Syosset to win 7 to 4 and take the 2nd Annual Turnpike Challenge. Jericho also was victorious in the 9/10-year-old division. The Jericho teams took home the trophies to be displayed in Jericho for 1 year, until next year’s contest resumes the great Syosset/Jericho rivalry.

As the day wound down, a great time with baseball, fun, food, and entertainment made for a fantastic event. Throughout the day and evening, over 350 Syosset Baseball Association players, from ages 8-18 participated in All-Star games.

Syosset Baseball Association would like to extend their thanks and appreciation to the following:

*Supervisor John Venditto and his staff for providing Syosset Baseball Association with a newly renovated park to hold the Annual Memorial Weekend All-Star games and picnic, showcasing this premier facility to the community.

*Syosset-Woodbury Community Park staff

*Bagel Master for providing complimentary bagels and coffee for the 8:30 a.m. games

*Cub Scouts Pack 168 for providing the colors for the national anthem throughout the day

*AP Willits and Village elementary schools’ band and chorus, Ms. Anne Marie Hennessey, music director, and Mr. Jeffrey Biener, Band Director, for providing the band and chorus that led each game in the national anthem

*Syosset Fire Department for providing facilities to water the fields down between games

*The umpires who do the job, no matter whether it’s a ball, strike or out

*Modell’s Sporting Goods for providing the incentive of hitting their banner for gift certificates

*Woodbury Sports for being on hand to display and sell their new line of Syosset Baseball apparel.

*Mr. Tom Hopke from The Great American Baseball Company for being on hand to answer any questions on the new and exciting Summer Intramural Graduate League, to be launched this summer.

*The staff of the Syosset Advance and the Syosset-Jericho Tribune for helping publicize and promote this event to our community.

*The entire Syosset Baseball Association Board that was on hand to handle the various aspects of the day: from Mr. Artie Johansen with the grills and food, Mr. Larry Meltzer with field maintenance, the Commissioners, the board members in attendance who worked throughout the day putting this event together, and family and friends of board members for assisting in making this event as memorable to the community as it was.

It’s now time to wind down the intramural season with the upcoming playoffs and championship games, leading into the summer Graduate League and summer travel schedules. Playoff schedules have been released, and everyone is gearing up towards Championship Saturday, June 19, when Syosset Baseball Association will be crowning champions in the 9-year-old A Division, 10-year-old AA Division, 11/12-year-old AAA Division, 11/12-year-old Majors, as well as the Junior and Senior Divisions.

More information about Syosset Baseball Association can be found at www.syossetbaseball.org.