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Wounded Warrior softball team inspires in Bay Ridge

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Bay Ridge hosted a softball game over the weekend to honor those who went to bat for our country.

A large crowed showed up to support the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball team came to Shore Road Park to play its first-ever game in New York City last Saturday afternoon and provided an emotional day for all.

“When they played the national anthem, you hear it before every game, but today really put it into context — why you’re playing today and who you are playing against,” said Stephanie Caso, a former Poly Prep softball star who played for Pipin’s Pub on the Bay Ridge All-Stars, a team fielded by local bars and restaurants.

Each of the Wounded Warriors, most of whom played baseball in high school or college, competed with a prosthetic limb. Most were missing a leg, some two and others played with just one arm. They surprised their local competition with their skills.

“They are good,” said Bay Ridge All Star Jeff King, who represented the Kettle Black and Ho Brah. “I’m shocked. They are really good. I hate to say it. One guy is missing a leg, but those guys are better than some of the guys we have out here.”

The Wounded Warriors played a double header June 12 with the Bay Ridge All Stars, and the Bay Ridge Local Heroes, comprised of September 11 first responders. Even though the veteran team came up short in both games, the day was more about appreciating the people who sacrificed for our country — and inspiring others to overcome obstacles.

Wounded Warrior Matias Ferreira, who served in Afghanistan with the Marines, remembers wondering what life would be like without both of his legs, and sees playing in these games as the symbol of a welcome return to normalcy.

“We are very appreciative, very thankful, very blessed to be doing what we are doing, inspiring others,” Ferreira said. “Just by touching one person, that makes our day.”

The Wounded Warriors’ mission is to show that “life without limbs is limitless.” They try to educate and inspire people about how a positive attitude can help you overcome any obstacle. But the inspiration is a two-way street. Ferreira is moved by the support the amputee team receives in whatever every city they play during their travels across the United States.

“It’s like walking around with a trophy,” Ferreira said. “It’s hard to go from being on a bedside wondering if you are going to be able to do anything. Going back to playing ball that was my life to me. “

Sopranos stars Steve Schirripa and Tony Sirico came out to support the cause. Sirico has been a long-time proponent of the Wounded Warrior Foundation over the years and Schirripa joined in. He feels events like this are important in a world filled with distractions from what is really going on.

“These are the real heroes,” Schirripa said. “Unfortunat­ely, people forget there is a war going on. They are more interested in these Kardashians and these reality TV stars. You forget these are the real guys.”

King agreed that the game was a good reminder of soldiers’ sacrifice.

“Everyday you just forget about things like this,” King said. “But when you see it up close like this it’s amazing what these guys did for us so we can play in this game.”

New York City Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro was on hand to say a few words, and Councilamn Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) and Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) also made appearances. State Sen. Marty Golden (r–Bay Ridge) said they are hoping to make the game an annual event. This year, included a 50/50 raffle and the sale of food and Wounded Warrior merchandise to raise money for the cause.

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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