It’s not every day you see a bunch of 12-year-old boys squaring off against a bunch of police officers. But that’s exactly what will happen next week in northern Westchester.
The good news is that, apart from competing for bragging rights on the baseball diamond, both sides are going to bat for young children, and their families, who every day live with a life-threatening disease.
Now in its second year, the high-profile fundraiser helps send local families coping with grave childhood illnesses to a palliative retreat in Maine at Camp Sunshine, located on Sebago Lake, for “one week of hope, recreation and support.”
The charity contest takes place Saturday, June 10, at Westchester County’s expansive and picturesque Legacy Field in Yorktown. That’s where the 12U Brawlers hope to take the Yorktown Police Department to school, at least where it concerns America’s national pastime.
If past is prelude, the adult players in blue will have to summon something extra to speed past their youthful opposition. While patrolling the outfield, swinging for the fences, and pitching craftily, the long arms of the law made some strategic maneuvers last year, in what event co-organizer Sergio Esposito calls “a real nailbiter… but my boys squeaked out a last-inning victory and won 8-7.” At least the score wasn’t 10-4, over and out.
Yorktown Police Benevolent Association president Lawrence Paniccia is determined not to let this one get away. “We’re training hard, baby!” he megaphoned. Besides, if things get too out of hand, I figure he always can send out an APB for backup players.
Chock-a-block with local personalities and sideline attractions, the fun event for a most worthy cause also is a spectators’ delight. Appearing on the bill as guest coach is New York State Sen. Terrence Murphy, with Yorktown Town Supervisor Michael Grace piloting the police squad, and Mr. Esposito assuming his real-life role as coach of his travel team, the irrepressibly boyish Brawlers.
Coming off the bench to umpire will be Yorktown town justices Salvatore A. Lagonia and Gary J. Raniolo. The arresting play-by-play will be delivered by town Yorktown Police Chief Robert Noble.
The national anthem will be performed by Raffaela Cicchetti of Eastchester, who in 2015, while a high school senior, became the youngest person to win the William Haralson Vocal Competition in Manhattan. The talented performer also was the first ever to earn a perfect score in that contest.
Emceeing the festivities will be professional sportscaster Kevin Van Meter.
For the little ones, there will be costumed mascots, as well as in-game activities, such as a fourth-inning yoga stretch.
The community pitches in generously to support this new cause. Among participating businesses are Burger King (donating cases of water and raffle items), Wayback Burgers (donating and grilling hamburgers), Little Sorrento restaurant (donating an industrial grill), Rita’s Ices (donating portion of proceeds from sales), Yorktown Pizza and Pasta (donating raffle items) and Yorktown Auto Body (donating cash).
There is no admission charge, and tax-deductible donations are gratefully welcomed, with all monies allocated directly to Camp Sunshine on behalf of the sponsored families. In 2016, proceeds from the game funded two families’ stays at Camp Sunshine, which otherwise costs $2,500 per family per week.
Pre-game activities start at 5 p.m., with the first pitch at 6:30 p.m. under the lights. The game lasts seven innings. Bases are 70 feet apart and the mound is 50 feet from home plate. Those not able to attend the game can follow the play-by-play, through an app called Game Changer, by entering “Yorktown 12U Brawlers.”
The event is a joint effort of the Yorktown Police Department, Yorktown Chamber of Commerce, Sergio Esposito and Dr. Rodd Stein.
For more information on the fundraiser, visit Facebook.com/YorktownForCampSunshine and GoFundMe.com/Yorktown2017. For details about the camp, visit CampSunshine.org.
Bruce Apar is chief content officer of Pinpoint Marketing & Design, a Google Partner Agency. Reach him at email@example.com or 914-275-6887.