Merchants go head-to-head

(L-r) John Bonizio, president of the Association of Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square, John Cerini, president of the Throggs Neck Merchant Association are ready for a friendly game of softball. Photo by Victor Chu

In the spirit of the historic 2000 Subway World Series, two Bronx teams will go head to head for the honor of Bronx Champion in what has been termed the ‘Sidewalk Series.’

On Friday, July 31, the Westchester Square Merchants will visit the Throgs Neck Little League Field to step up to the challenge from the Throggs Neck Merchants for a softball game sure to entertain the entire family.

The Throggs Neck Merchants Association, who organized this game to benefit the community, making it a fundraiser for the Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance, issued the challenge months ago.

“I am calling out to all Throggs Neckers to please come out and support the local merchant community and our neighborhood for a good cause,” said John Cerini, president of the Throggs Neck Merchants Association.

According Cerini, the Throggs Neck team has a natural advantage, sporting youthful players with more athletic capabilities.

“I am confident we are going to win because we have the younger players, the better players and the better-looking players,” said Cerini, who boasted of having the president of the Throggs Neck Girls Softball League and owner of Fusion Fitness on the roster. “We are bringing it and let’s see if they can match us.”

But the Westchester Square Merchants, also determined to win, have developed a few strategies of their own for the game.

“I am not giving up any secrets, however, suffice to say even though we are wearing short sleeve shirts, we have a few tricks up the proverbial sleeve,” said John Bonizio, president of the Westchester Square Merchants.

Ladies and gentleman, please rise as the starting lineups are announced by Councilman Jimmy Vacca, acting as the event’s own Bob Sheppard. Other all-star appearances include Assemblyman Michael Benedetto playing for the Throggs Neck team, while Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joins Westchester Square.

“I’m looking forward to it. I used to be a softball enthusiast, playing in many leagues in Throggs Neck,” said Benedetto. “I haven’t played in the last 15 years and am looking forward to getting back on the diamond. I’ve gone out to the batting range and I’ve taken a few swings in the cage and I think I have my stroke pretty much in line.”

Admission is free for all who wish to join, with a raffle occurring throughout the night and collection bins to accept donations for the cause. Additionally, bumper stickers will be sold to help guests show their support for the team of their choice.

The game will commence at 7 p.m., with a rain date scheduled for Saturday, August 1.

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