Now a few weeks after the renuion, it has taken on a life of it's own

Old films have surfaced, soon to be edited and distributed and several new guys have been found.

Friday, July 13, 2007

More Fond Memories from Mark

Additional fond offerring from Mark:

Phil Plasrncia played for Glen Oaks LL in 1954 and 1956 (his family moved to Massapequa for the year 1955). Phil is a critical link in our magnificent chain of events. After the Little Neck Times Ledger published the article on our 50th Reunion , Phil who currently lives in Floral Park, NY, read it and contacted me by e-mail, obtaining my e-mail address from Stephen Stirling, the fine gentleman who was the reporter. I proceeded to call Phil. I explained I had trouble contacting some All Stars and Phil was literally an angel dropped from heaven. He told me about Tom Fitzgerald and how he lived in Madison, Wisconsin and had gone to the University and also was in the Air Force for four years. They had a mutual friend, Dick McGovern. To give you and idea how difficult it was to find Tom Fitzgerald, in Madison Wisconsin alone, they had FOUR Tom Fitzgeralds. Phil proceeded to start calling all 4 Tom Fitzgeralds and was successful on the first try! I had gotten Tom's number from the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association. I had asked for a Tom Fitzgerald who graduated in the year 1967. They said they had nothing close. The closest was 1971. If you add 4 years in the Air Force, it came out to 1971 and that was our Tom.
Phil also knew the whereabouts of Al Mercatante. The 1957 Glen Oaks News had his name spelled Al Mercante and so we were not successful in locating Al. Phil knew Al from seeing him at Lady Of Snows on his trips to the old neighborhood. Phil was 99% sure this was the fellow we wanted, and that he was living in Delaware. I contacted Al in Delaware and sure enough he was our man. Even better and most significantly, Al was in the process of going through old home movies his late dad, who passed away a few years ago, had taken to show to his Aunt who would be celebrating her 100th birthday. He said he would look for the Venezuela game. My heart started beating with excitement. He said I should pray and cross my fingers. I went to my shul's daily services that late afternoon and said an added prayer with a smile on my face, please the Venezuela movie. I got back to my computer in the evening and immediately saw as a message Video Found !, from Al, and sent it to all of you. Nobody DREAMED of such a discovery. Not one person from all the All Stars ever mentioned home movies.
Phil having gone to Chaminade High School where he also played baseball, knew the whereabouts of Bob Raben, Jr. We had tried to locate Bob Raben, Sr. beloved, savy and fair play manager of the Eagles and the 1957 All Stars, which naturally included the Venezuela game. Unfortunately we learned that Mr. Raben had passed away a few years ago. The plaque we had for Bob Raben, Sr. will now be in the safe and loving hands of Bob Raben, Jr., a retired airline pilot, who now lives in Hawaii. Thanks Bob for your generous donation to the Glen Oaks LL. .
Phil Plasencia later went to Georgetown University, Division One, and as a walk on, played shortstop! He played against Roger Staubauch, who he said was an excellent baseball player (outfielder) at Navy as well as football player, and Ron Swoboda of the 1969 Miracle Mets, who previously played for University of Maryland. Phil said Swoboda hit a shot in one game so hard and far that the ball may still be rolling!

  • Vic Riccardi of the Hawks and 1958 All Star team recounted how over 50 years ago, Nick Gemmo, late father of Joe Gemmo, who was a little league coach and wholesaler of Louis Sherry ice cream would give free ice cream to the Glen Oaks Little Leaguers. Not surprisingly, those acts of kindness help produce and mold Joe Gemmo into a fine human being.

  • Richard Cagan of the Hawks and the 1957 All Star team revealed that his late father Louis Cagan, who was Vice President of the Glen Oaks Little League at the time, traveled all the way into Manhattan to obtain a phonograph record of the Venezuela National Anthem. It was brought back to the Oval where it was played on a record player as part of the ceremonies of the historic Venezuela game along with the American National Anthem. That kind of thoughtfulness produced a considerate and well meaning person in Richard Cagan, who true to form brought old pictures from the Hawks, all the way from Scottsdale, Arizona for all to enjoy at the 50th reunion on Sunday June 24th. Our hats off to Richie.

  • Bill Cassidy of the Tigers and the 1957 All Star team conveyed that after playing Little League, he played Pony League, Babe Ruth League, Varsity on Martin Van Buren High School, Varsity at Hartwick College and semi-pro. He said the biggest game in his life was the Venezuela game. Bill's dad, Lou who is alive and should continue to be well at age 92, played a crucial role in the Venezuela game. Besides being a fireman for the New York City Fire Department, Lou Cassidy had a second job working at a plant nursery. With that expertise, he volunteered his skills to the Glen Oaks Little League and put the field in perfect condition for the most important game ever to be played at the Oval. Lou Cassidy was awarded a plaque for his outstanding work 50 years later. That kind of generosity produced a respectful and admiring son in Bill who not surprisingly is treated the same way by his son.

  • Peter Zwerling of the Eagles and the 1957 All Star team had a mother who was dying of cancer. The doctors wanted to put his mother in a hospice where they expected her to die within 5 days. Peter asked his wife Lynn if his mom could stay with their family in their home instead of being in a hospice. Lynn, a lady with a big heart said yes. This allowed grandma Zwerling to communicate with her grandchildren on a daily basis. She could have spoke about anything to her grandchildren. One thing she did mention to them was the historic Venezuela game including their dad was the star pitcher and hitter for Glen Oaks. Grandma Zwerling surrounded by love from her son, daugher-in-law and grandchildren lived not days, not weeks, not months but YEARS after the doctors gave up on her. What a statement about the entire Zwerling family as to honoring one's parent. Not surprisingly, Peter's son traveled to the Oval from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to honor his dad. Lynn--thanks for your consideration and time in these observations.

  • Finding members of the 1957 Venezuela team appeared to be a daunting task. Peter Zwerling remembered the name of one player, Dewey Smith. With that kind of name, we guessed that Dewey Smith was the son of an American oil man. I tried to get the names of US oil companies and hope that Dewey Smith was a junior or the third. That would be the best way to track him through the name of his father. Unfortunately there were so many US oil companies in Maracaibo that it proved to be a dead end. In April 2007, while visiting my friends Sam Bettsak (originally from Panama) and his wife Debby Bettsak (originally from Columbia, South America) in Atlanta, Georgia the following happened: Debby's mother was visiting her for the Passover holiday from Bogata, Columbia. The morning that I left Atlanta for Rochester I mentioned to Debby and her mother that I was trying to contact members of the little league that played for Maracaibo, Venezuela in 1957 against Glen Oaks. Debby said Tomas Lefkowitz of Maracaibo lived in Atlanta and would be able to help me. I politely listened but thought to myself how this fellow could know anyone that played on that little league team. It turned out he did! He knew one fellow living in Caracas, Venezuela and one living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I called Fred Abbo who lives in Fort Lauderdale and has been living there for the past 30 years. Fred pitched in that historic game as confirmed by the box score we obtained from the New York Times article. He wanted to attend the festivities but conflicting business considerations prevented it. Fred had and sent me all the names of players of that team. About 10 years ago, Fred was in Maracaibo on business and just happen to be reading the newspaper. He was surprised to see that the paper did a story on the 40th anniversary celebration of the Maracaibo little leaguers traveling to New York to play.

  • In 1961, on a hot Saturday morning in August, the Hawks were playing the Orioles in the first game of a 3 game series to determine the Major League champion. My father of blessed memory, Maurice Eisenberg, would always be in his family shoe business, Cheap Murray's, in the Broadway Brooklyn ghetto neighborhood (Tommy Davis of the LA Dodgers' relative was one of our customers) particularly on Saturdays as it was the biggest day for business in the retail business. That day my dad drove my mom of blessed memory, Sylvia, to the store in Brooklyn from Glen Oaks Village. She would always help out in the store. He then drove all the way back to Glen Oaks to watch me play in that game at third base for the Hawks. In a well played and hard fought game the Hawks won I believe 1-0. My dad after the game gave me an alcohol rub down and asked me if I would go with him to the store to help out. I always helped out in the store anytime my folks asked. Naturally I happily joined my dad after another example of the sacrifices made for me.

  • The Saturday night game at Shea Stadium June 23rd, 2007 played before about 53, 000 people on Met Shirt Night (They did not know but they were really there to see the 1957 and 1958 Glen Oaks All Stars be honored) saw a team playing the Mets that traveled around 3,000 miles, from Oakland, California, from a different league. The Mets had a runner thrown out at home plate by an outfielder. The game ended in the bottom of the last inning with the Mets winning by one run (1-0). Now 50 years ago almost to the day, on July 27, 1957, a record crowd of about 300 people at the Glen Oaks Oval saw a team that traveled several thousand miles from Maracaibo, Venezuela from a different league and country, play the Glen Oaks All Stars. In that game an outfielder from the Maracaibo team, Dewey Smith, threw out two Glen Oaks players at home plate per New York Times article (one was Dickey Moen according to Mick Sopko in the top of the 5th inning). The game ended in the bottom of the last inning with two out, decided by one run (5-4). How eerie is that!!

  • There is a famous quotation from Shakespeare's play, Hamlet. "There is a divinity that shapes our end". It is hard not to see that The Divine Hand made the Glen Oaks 50th Celebrations weekend and those who participated such a resounding and sentimental success, despite all kinds of obstacles, and uncertainties such as weather which turned out to be beautiful.

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