BY MICHELLE MILLER
It was a hot, sunny day to play ball. As The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team leftfielder Nicholas Clark took his position at Doubleday field on Sunday, he stopped to tell the umpire he was still in shock about getting the opportunity to play on suchhistoric grounds.
“This is just unbelievable. I bet a lot of really great leftfielders have been out here,” he said, shaking his head.
The Wounded Warriors, who faced the Cooperstown First Responders, were coming off a game against the Broome County Law Enforcement in Binghamton the night before. David Van Sleet, head coach for the team, said it was the team’s first time playing in New York. The Wounded Warriors are scheduled to travel to Long Island and the Hamptons the first week of August.
“I think the team will make a return visit in two years,” Van Sleet said. “It was a great game and we were honored to play on Doubleday Field and against the Cooperstown First Responders team.”
Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz proclaimed it Wounded Warrior Day and gave the team a plaque. “They really seemed to enjoy themselves while they were here,” Katz said. “I am sure whoever is mayor or on the board in a couple of years will be happy to have them back. It was really a memorable day.”
Katz said the only misfortune was the collision of Cooperstown Fire Chief Jim Tallman with Wounded Warrior’s No. 9 GregReynolds in the sixth inning. Tallman was rushing to first after a ball was hit to him when he was catapulted in the air. Katz, who was sitting in the stands, said he had a pretty good view of the play, and it did not look good. A guy sitting a couple seats down pointed and said Tallman’s leg bone was pointing in a direction it should not be, Katz added.
The Vets Club held a dinner for the players, and Katz said Tallman was able to attend. “I believe he has surgery planned for later this week,” he said.
The Warriors came to play ball, defeating the locals 21-9. Teams were only allowed to score five runs per inning until the final inning. The Wounded Warriors out hit the Cooperstown First Responders, 22 to 17. The visiting team also had fewer errors. The Warriors had two while the First Responders had eight. The First Responders started off a bit cold.
The team allowed two runs in the top of the first and only got one on base when at bat. Pitcher Sharky Nagelschmidt held the Warriors to one hit in the second, not allowing any runs. The First Responders’ bats got hot in the second inning as they scored all five runs allowed. The Warriors came back to take a 7-5 lead in the third inning. Warrior pitcher Thomas Carlo got a one-two-three-out inning.
The Warriors tacked on a couple more in the fourth, while the First Responders knocked in two. Joe O’Brien led off the inning with a base hit to center. Scott Monington then hit the ball to the Warrior short stop, who tried to make a double play. The first baseman dropped the ball, leaving a runner on first with one out The First Responders got hits from Kevin Preston and Scott Sheldon, scoring a couple runs. The inning ended, 9-7, with a long out to center field by Tom Redding.
The Warriors got a couple more runs in the fifth, while they only faced four First Responder batters while in the field. By the end of the sixth inning, the Warriors had taken a 14-8 lead.
The grandstand section of Doubleday was packed. Van Sleet said he believes that part of the seating area holds 1,000 people. He estimated a crowd size between 1,500 and 2,000 people.
Carolyn Clinton, event organizer, said $4,585 was raised at the event and $3,000 was given in sponsorship from local merchants. People who were at the Binghamton event were allowed in free in Cooperstown since they had already paid a charge in Binghamton, she said.
Money raised is used for the non-profit foundation to assist other veteran amputees who want to engage in an organized sports activity, according to Van Sleet.
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team’s mission, according to its website, “is to raise awareness, through exhibition and celebrity softball games, of the sacrifices and resilience of our military, and highlight their ability to rise above any challenge.”
The WWAST is composed of young, competitive, athletic veterans and active duty soldiers who have lost limbs post-9/11, while serving their country in the military/war. The team includes individuals with a variety of amputations of the arm, above knee, below knee, bilateral below knee and foot. Some are still in the service, others are attending college, while others have moved on to new careers.
BY MICHELLE MILLER
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