The New York Yankees made Sunday, October 1, a great day for ‘Uncle Joey,’ the 96-year-old baseball fan who attended his last Bombers game almost 80 years ago when Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were in the lineup together.
Nephew Andrew Klampert was excited to bring his uncle, Joe Casaburi to see the Yankees play the Toronto Blue Jays, meet general manager Brian Cashman and visit Monument Park.
“The Yankees were amazing, taking him on a private tour of the stadium, giving him a gift bag and more,” Klampert said.
“Everything went fine, beautifully. I really enjoyed it, never expected such a thing to happen,” said Casaburi.
He didn’t stay for the end of the game, so he missed seeing Toronto edge out New York, 2-1.
Asked who his favorite player is today, Casaburi said, “Right now, I’m leaning toward yesterday, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig,” adding that Lou Gehrig was his favorite player.
Casaburi recalled that he was 8-years-old at that time, attending the game with a class from school.
And afterward, when he couldn’t afford to go to games during the Depression, he’d listen to them on the radio and hear his favorite announcer, Mel Allen, call the plays.
“Every game that Mel Allen narrated, he almost took the place of a baseball player,” Casaburi said. “At that time he really narrated the game very well.”
A highlight for Casaburi was being interviewed for TV at the game Sunday.
And regarding his first trip to the new stadium, Casaburi said, “It’s a beautiful stadium. The old one was good too, but this one is terrific, the best of all the ballparks.”
Klampert was even more excited about bringing his Uncle Joey to the game, and inspiring people that when they get older, they can keep active.
Casaburi’s family members who joined him at the game share longevity, with his sisters Emma at 90, Tina at 93, Jenny at 91, brothers Jimmy at 90 and Freddy at 85.
Their mother, Mary, lived to 99 and a half, and Grandma Concetta until 104, according to Klampert.
“The genetics are amazing as they are all alive with vitality,” Klampert said. “Emma’s an amazing 10-star cook, Uncle Joey survived recent open heart surgery and is running all over the Bronx.”
Klampert had nothing but praise for how his Uncle Joey took care of his wife of over 50 years, with the last 20 years as her caretaker.
“He refused to put her in a home and for 20 years she had dementia and was unable to take care of herself,” Klampert said. “He took her around to activities in a wheelchair, bathed her and did everything for her as she was unable to do so.”
The family was raised in Harlem and settled in the Bronx in the 1950s.
Casaburi was a drummer in the 1st Infantry Band, a WWII Purple Heart veteran who fought on the front lines and today still has shrapnel inside him, according to Klampert, adding that nowadays he’s an amazing pool player and visits seniors.
“I am trying to pitch a show right now called ‘Catching Up With The Casaburis,’” Klampert said. “How 90 is the new 70 and watch this family go nonstop from the minute they wake up.”