WEST ORANGE, NJ - It was time to play ball as the 52nd West Orange Police Athletic League Baseball junior division season opened on April 26 at the PAL field on Prospect Place.
Parents, PAL trustees, family members and local dignitaries came out in support, including Mayor Robert Parisi, Council President Susan McCartney, and Councilman Joe Krakoviak. Stephan Zichella, Head Coach for the West Orange High School Baseball team, and June Albanese Caporaso, daughter of the late Vincent Albanese, for whom the Vincent G. Albanese PAL Sports Complex was named, were also on hand for Opening Day.
The morning began as the junior teams lined the field for the Star Spangled Banner and announcements from WoPal trustee Otto Torrisi. This year's opening ball was thrown out by James Reitberger, a long-time member of the PAL family that is currently battling leukemia.
"Kids who go through the PAL system are considered part of our family," said Torrisi. "James is one of those kids."
Reitberger, now 27, graduated from West Orange High School in 2004. He played PAL baseball and coached the FMBA PAL team.
"I'm feeling pretty good," said Reitberger, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy. "Things are moving in an upward direction."
Reitberger went on to explain that his family was in the process of establishing a Fan Page and that he would need a bone marrow transplant. A fundraiser for James was set for April 26 at the Orange Elks to help offset medical costs. The Alternative Press will provide more information on bone marrow donation for James when it becomes available.
Reitberger tossed out the first pitch of the season to his brother Brian as his parents, Jim and Cindy, looked on. Dillon, the Reitberger's other son, was playing a WOHS baseball game.
The baseball senior division will now be playing 50/70 games at the baseball field located at Degnan Park. The senior opening is set for Monday, April 28, at 6:15 pm. For more information on the West Orange Police Athletic League, visit their website at: http://www.wopal.org/.