Friendly merchant rivalry in third annual charity game

A friendly merchant rivalry is heating up.

With less than a week before the Third Annual Merchants Charity Softball game, talk is already buzzing among the merchants about who will take home the championship trophy.

The game is scheduled to take place at the Throgs Neck Little League Field on Friday, July 29, with a rain date of Saturday, July 30.

The Association of Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square and Morris Park Alliance are looking for their first win in the annual softball game, said Joe Regina.

“The first year that we played the Throggs Neck Merchants they whined and whined, and said that they thought they were going to be playing a nine inning game, instead of a regular seven inning softball game,” Regina said in jest. “Last year they kept talking about playing a longer game when they were losing and then won in the bottom of the inning.”

This year, the Westchester Square and Morris Park merchants will be batting in the bottom of the inning, “last licks,” which Regina said should give them an advantage.

“This year is our year and the trophy is going to have Westchester Square and Morris Park inscribed on it as the winners for 2011,” Regina said with confidence. “John Cerini has had the trophy in his office for the past two years, but it is going to be in our office this year.”

Throggs Neck Merchants president John Cerini said, “We have the trophy, which stays with the winning team, and Joe told me to bring it over to his office because it is the last time we are going to see it.Those are pretty strong words coming from someone on a team who has lost two years in a row.”

More important than who wins is the amount of money raised for the four different charities which will benefit from the game, Cerini said. His merchant group is donating to P.S. 14, P.S. 72, and P.S. 304 and will have Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and P.S. 304 principal Joe Nobile on the team, Cerini said.

“We were looking into fielding 30 players on our team, and right now we have 23 players being sponsored,” Cerini said recently.

A donation of at least $100 is required to field a player, and there are various sponsorship opportunities at different levels. The Westchester Square and Morris Park team already has a nearly full roster, Regina said recently.

Merchants from Westchester Square will be donating to the American Cancer Society. The Pelham Bay merchants will contributing to Our Lady of Assumption. The Morris Park Alliance will be making a donation to Calvary Hospital.

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