It’s hard to believe that someone who fought the Nazis and watched Babe Ruth play, never once got to an Opening Day baseball game.
For Joseph Casaburi, a 96-year-old Purple Heart recipient that was the case, until this season.
Growing up in a large family, Joseph and his siblings all took a love of America’s favorite passtime and the New York Yankees.
Today photos of the Yankee great reliever Mariano Rivera hang on the wall in Joseph’s brother’s home.
The Yankees along with Combat Wounded Veterans of America saw to it that Joseph finally saw a home opener on Tuesday, April 3.
Alongside his sister Emma, Joseph hopped up the stairs at Gate 2 like he was Aarron Judge, eager to see the field on that dreary gameday.
While the Yankees intended to bring Joseph on the field during the 7th inning to be honored during the singing of God Bless America, they decided to save that for a game that wasn’t 40 degrees and rainy.
“I never wanted any attention over the years,” said Joseph. “I did my stint in the millitary and that was it, I’m so appreciative for all of this,” he added.
When General Patton’s 1st Army needed ‘replacements’ in March of 1945, Joseph was thrown into the fight from his Army dental office in Denver, CO.
However, the idea of combat was like pulling teeth for the dental assistant.
“After we landed, the first thing I said was ‘when do we go home?’,” said Joseph. “I wanted to get out of there,” he added.
After being struck by a mortar fragment in the leg, which earned him a Purple Heart, Joseph’s weeks in combat were anything, but brief.
He was stationed in Germany until early 1946, when his wish of coming home was finally approved.
Joseph prefers a serene life with his siblings in Pelham Bay to the frontline in Germany.
Throughout his life, Joseph always had his family, no matter what.
Even to this day, he and his siblings keep each other young and happy.
Living a short few blocks from Joseph’s Jarvis Avenue home, his 86 year-old-brother and Korean War veteran Freddy, 90-year-old sister Emma, and 94 year-old sister-in law Marilyn are all youthful inside and out.
Also in the mix is Jenny, 92, Tina, 94, both self sufficient and in good health.
Since their mother lived to 99 and grandmother to 104, the family suspects New Jersey’s ‘Garden State’ pollution as the reason for brother Vincent’s early demise at 81.
The close-knit clan knows the secret for a long, healthy, and fulfilled life is no secret in fact.
Rather just committing every day to each other and the virtue of family with the help of garlic, oil, and red wine plus one gin martini per day according to Joseph.
Needless to say their roots come from Italy.
Joseph even created an Instagram account anticipating his 100th birthday named “unclejoey100.”
From flying remote-controlled planes to even a small two engine craft over the Tappan Zee Bridge, to building the RFK Bridge out of toothpicks, Joseph and his famaily are truly living life.
Even though he never saw Babe Ruth hit a home run, he did see Didi Gregorious hit two out of the park against Tampa Bay.
“I wish Aarron Boone lots of luck this year,” said Joseph. “I’ve got a good feeling that number 28 is on its way,” he gleefully predicted.