Throggs Neck Merchants strike first blow

Rebecca Cerini, 8, Michael Zedlla, 8, Luke Cunaj, 8, and Matthew Cerini, 12, got first row seating to cheer for Throggs Neck. Photos by Robert Benimoff

Going, going, gone was the theme of this weekends ‘Sidewalk Series,’ as both teams put on an exciting slugfest, sure to have wowed spectators.

On Saturday, August 1, the merchant organizations of Throggs Neck and Westchester Square went head to head during the first ever charity softball game that raised funds for the Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. played for Westchester Square Merchants, while Councilman Jimmy Vacca and Senator Jeff Kline made appearances to kick off the start of the game.

“When I saw the killer instinct in both teams I knew the announcing role was just right for me,” said Vacca. “Some would say many of the merchants have missed their calling. Others would say they may want to keep their day jobs.”

Hitting home runs for Westchester Square were Bret Collazzi, representing Councilman Jimmy Vacca, George Collazo, Joel Angus, Taio Lopez, Juan Clark and John Gonzales.

“It was a great and exciting day for everyone involved and I immediately went out after game and bought stock in Motrin because there were a lot of sore old people on the field that day,” said John Bonizio, president of the Westchester Square Merchants. “I am very happy to be contributing to the Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps, particularly since I live in Throggs Neck and may need them some day, especially after a softball game like that.”

Winning MVP for Throggs Neck was Mike Menna of Menna’s Quality Meats and receiving the coach’s award for the game was Pete Spoto of Spoto’s Restaurant.

“We had some amazing players, we had Tommy Messina from Congressman Joseph Crowley’s office and John Doyle playing for Senator Jeff Klein. I would definitely say the stand out players were Mike Menna, Pete Spoto and Wayne Baker,” said John Cerini, president of the Throggs Neck Merchant Association. “We had such a great variety of players.”

Cerini admits they were nervous in the first inning when Westchester Square took a nine-run lead, but were confident they would be able to rally the team back for the win.

Though both teams displayed a valiant effort and athletic skills, Throggs Neck took the win on their home turf, with the final score of 35-28.

Proceeds from the game exceeded $1,000 for the Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corp., with the winner of the 50/50 raffle, Sally Gleason, donating her $ 547 prize back to the corps.

“This game is going great,” said Bill Heaney, chief of operations for TNVAC, during the game. “It’s a great night for the community to come together to raise more for the Ambulance Corp. We will be celebrating our 30th anniversary in May and we are looking forward to the future.”

A special thanks was given to the volunteers who helped keep the event organized and to Bill Tsibidis of the Crosstown Diner for providing food to all the players prior to the start of the game’s start.

Westchester Square has already issued a challenge for a rematch, with proceeds benefitting a Westchester Square charity, to be played at a later date.

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