Mets Hall of Famer to lead All-Star 5K run in Prospect Park
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bensonhurst native John Franco was a four-time All-Star during a career spanning three decades as a Major League reliever.
That's why it's only fitting that the Mets Hall of Famer will be leading the pack, so to speak, when "Team Franco" participates in Saturday's MLB All-Star Game 5K & Fun Run throught Prospect Park benefitting Hurricane Sandy Relief.
Franco, who starred at Lafayette High School and St. John's University, was a natural fit to host the charitable run, which will also include baseball royalty such as Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, three-time World Series-winning manager Tony La Russa, former Met phenom Dwight Gooden, and Ed Charles, Ed Kranepool and Art Shamsky of the 1969 Miracle Mets.
Also participating will be Barry Lyons of the ’86 champion Mets, and MLB Network personalities Eric Byrnes and Sam Ryan. Lyons, a Mississippi native, lost his home in 2005 to Hurricane Katrina.
“I’m honored to join Major League Baseball in helping fellow New Yorkers who are still trying to recover from the storm’s damage," said Franco, whose son J.J. was a standout at Bay Ridge's Poly Prep Country Day School before earning a scholarship to Brown University.
"I want to encourage everyone to help me raise money for the cause by joining ‘Team Franco.’” added Franco, who compiled 424 saves during his 21 seasons in the big leagues, 15 of which were spent with the Mets.
Charles, Kranepool and Shamsky have created the “Miracle Mets” fundraising team in honor of their memorable title in '69.
Fans can register to participate or be a part of these fundraising teams at AllStarGame.com/Run.
The top individual fundraisers will be rewarded with special All-Star experiences, including tickets to All-Star events, throwing out a ceremonial first pitch prior to the Chevrolet Home Run Derby and the chance to join celebrities and legends on a team competing in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game.
Awards will also be presented to the race’s top male, female, youth and wheelchair finishers.
The 5K, an officially timed New York Road Runners event, will begin at 8 a.m. sharp, with the wheelchair division beginning at 7:55. The family-friendly 1.5 Mile Fun Run will begin immediately following the 5K start.
All registered participants will receive a commemorative event T-shirt. Registration is $35 (adult) and $30 (children 17 and under) for the 5K and Fun Run.
While the Majors' brightest stars prepare to descend on Citi Field next Tuesday for the annual All-Star Game, a group of nine-year-old ballplayers from Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Williamsburg and even a few from Queens have already captured the ultimate prize.
Coach Daniel Corona's Brooklyn Blue Storm recently returned home from Kentucky, where they emerged as the best of over 6,000 teams from across North America for the Baseball Youth Nationals World Series title.
Corona and fellow coaches Joe Lombardi and Matt DiGrigoli watched proudly as Liam Lombardi, Jakob Anderson, Fabian Apicella, Alex Diaz, Daniel Corona Jr., Mike Sirota, Ryan Melendez, Chris Campanella, Logan Maher, Antonio DiGrigoli and Tyler Caton went a perfect 8-0 in the tournament.
The Storm knocked off clubs from Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas, Florida, Canada, Tennessee and Ohio.
Down 2-1 in the final inning of the championship game, the Storm got a game-winning two-run double from Lombardi to win it all.
Last year, the Storm finished third in the annual tournament after completing a brilliant 75-3 run through the regular season.