Merchants will face off in charity softball game

It’s time again for that cutthroat merchant throwdown — the Throggs Neck-Morris Park softball game.

For the second year in a row, businessmen from Throggs Neck and Morris Park will play each other in a charity softball game.

This year’s game will benefit the New York Blood Center and will be played in honor of Throggs Neck resident Joe O’Grady.

O’Grady is fighting a rare form of cancer called Synovial Sarcoma, and is in need of transfusions as a result of chemotherapy. He has been a member of the Throgs Neck Little League his entire life, and is a high school teacher and athletic coach. He has three young children. O’Grady relies on the New York Blood Center for free transfusions.

Throggs Neck Merchants Association president John Cerini heard about his situation and decided to devote this year’s second annual game to the New York Blood Center.

The game will be played at the Throgs Neck Little League field at 150 Throgs Neck Boulevard on Friday, July 23 at 8 p.m. It pits the Throggs Neck and Pelham Bay merchants against the Westchester Square Merchants Association and the Morris Park Alliance. A rain date has been scheduled for Saturday. July 24.

“I think that it’s going to be important for people to see this game because it will bring unity to the community, and it’s for a good cause,” said Greg Perry, Jr., who will be representing Crown Trophy at 2554 E. Tremont Avenue. Perry’s father, Greg Perry, Sr., is the president of the Westchester Square Merchants Association.

Robert Ruggiero, president of the Morris Park Alliance and owner of F. Ruggiero and Sons Funeral Home at 726 Morris Park Avenue, said that at least five people from his group will be playing in the game. Ruggiero had a brother who received blood transfusions from New York Blood Center, and so, based on personal experience, believes that the cause is especially worthy.

“Bringing in the two other merchants groups this year lessens the responsibilities of those merchants who played eight or twelve innings last year,” Ruggiero said. “And it raises more money for the cause.”

Ruggiero said there is something of a sibling rivalry between the Throggs Neck Merchants Association and the Westchester Square Merchants Association, and now the Morris Park Alliance and Pelham Bay Merchants Association will become a part of it.

All of them can agree on one thing, at least: they’re working for the betterment of the area’s business climate.

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