By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It doesn’t get much more American than this.
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team was in Brooklyn last Saturday as it took on the Bay Ridge All-Stars, a team comprised of local celebrities, with plenty of patriotic Brooklynites, politicians and even some actors looking on.
"It would be hard to top this as a great American scene," city councilman Vincent Gentile said. "Having the Wounded Warriors right here in Bay Ridge, a very patriotic community, playing America's pastime. It could only be more American if it were on the Fourth of July.”
There were more than 200 people that surrounded the field on Shore Road along with Sopranos actors Tony Sirico and Steve Schirripa and a pair of the New York Islanders Ice Girls to watch as the Bay Ridge All-Stars beat the Wounded Warriors 15-13.
“I think a lot of times people want to say thank you to the soldiers that have sacrificed their lives and limbs for us, but sometimes they don't know how,” said State Senator Marty Golden, who helped to organize the event. “Today, when you see all of the people that have come out, the actors, entertainers and politicians, they've all come down to show their support and say thank you.”
They might have come to say thank you, but the crowd was also treated to a great game as well as the vets showed that while they might not have all of their limbs, they can still move on a baseball field. Bay Ridge’s weekend warriors weren’t half bad either as they came from behind to win the game in seven innings.
The Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball team travels all around the nation participating in games like this in order to try to inspire people who have suffered their own personal tragedies. Their message is "life without a limb is limitless" and they get a lot out of it to by not only helping people but getting a chance to play the game that they grew up playing even if, at some point, they thought they could never do it again.
“These guys are great,” Golden exclaimed at one point. “I could never make some of the plays these guys do. Did you see that play at third base? Holy mackerel! It's amazing.”
Golden was referring to Saul Bosquez, who made tremendous plays all game long at third base including a full-extension dive that started a double play and kept the Wounded Warriors in the game a bit longer.
Unfortunately for the Wounded Warriors, they were defeated after Jeff King, of the Kettle Black, hit a grand slam in the second inning to tie the game at 8-8 and Brian Kenny drove in two runs in the third on a double that made it 13-8.
“These games get very competitive,” said Matias Ferreira, who lost both of his legs fighting in Afghanistan. “As you can see today, teams don’t just let us win, but we appreciate that. We’ve been playing a lot lately and we kind of gave up on that game. It happens, nobody is perfect.”
After the game, the team from Bay Ridge tipped their caps, gave the Wounded Warriors a standing ovation and took pictures with the vets. Many children in the crowd had a lot of questions for the Wounded Warriors, who were more than happy to answer them.
“It's like running around with a trophy,” Ferreira said of the attention. “It's hard to go from being on a bedside thinking you aren't going to be able to do anything else to go back to playing ball that was life to me. Coming out here and having these people show their appreciation and temporarily letting us be apart of their community is a blessing. Hopefully we can help inspire people in return.”
This was the first time the Wounded Warriors have played a game in New York City, but Senator Golden hopes to make the game an annual event.
“They play all around the country,” Golden said. “This is the 32nd state that they've played in. We are fortunate to get them to come to New York so they can show off the great spirit they have. Hopefully we can get them back again next year. We'd love to do this in (Citi Field) eventually.”