Sports

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Vilage officials have been paying attention to the Port Jefferson Country Club lower parking lot. Photo by Kyle Barr

Port Jefferson village officials hope $12,000 is enough to cover the Port Jefferson Country Club parking lot and area around the golf pro shop with camera surveillance.

At its Aug. 19 meeting, village officials agreed to put together $12,000 from various budgets to replace seven cameras around the country club parking lot. These cameras will be at 4K resolution to better enable reading license plates in case that data needs to be forwarded to village constables or Suffolk County Police. The money will also go toward adding a new system to use the upgraded cameras at the country club.

“The system we got there is five years old — the cameras have always been cloudy there,” said Kevin Wood, the Port Jefferson parking and mobility administrator. 

At the meeting, the village officials went back and forth on the cameras’ price tag, but Wood argued 4K is the way of the future.

“The 4K costs have gone down tremendously, even since we did Texaco a year ago,” he said. “We’re at the point where we don’t consider anything but 4K, it’s that close to the cost.”

The board unanimously voted to install the new cameras, and Mayor Margot Garant said she is looking to take some money out of the country club, the parking and main budgets.

In previous meetings, trustee Stan Loucks made a point of trying to stop people from parking in the country club’s lower parking lot and walking down to the beach to fish.

“We believe that a lack of cameras at the lower lot creates additional problems down at the east beach,” he said at the Aug. 19 meeting.

In May, the village announced it had hooked up its camera system to Suffolk County Police Department’s real-time crime center. The system is used by police to tap into local cameras and use that data in conjunction with databases to catch criminal activity.

Wood said they expect the cameras to be installed by mid-September.

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Former Ward Melville girls basketball head coach Samantha Prahalis coaches the Patriots from the sidelines at a January 2018 game. Photo by Jm Ferchland

Ward Melville High School girls varsity basketball players, parents and residents lent their voices in support for former coach Samantha Prahalis at a district board of education meeting Aug. 21.

The speakers during the board’s public session hoped that they could convince the board to reconsider the decision to dismiss the varsity girls’ basketball coach, which was made earlier this month. But after nearly a one-hour public comment session, the board ultimately sealed the coach’s fate. It would not reevaluate their initial decision to sever ties with Prahalis, a former WNBA player, and she would not be returning to the sidelines.

William Connors, Three Village board of education president, delivered the news to the crowd through a prepared statement.

“While the district does not comment on matters of personnel, I can say the coaching position for the Ward Melville [girls] high school varsity team currently remains open for the 2019-20 school year,” the board of education president said. “The district will not be filling this annual appointment with the individual who served in that role for the past two years. As such, we are in the process of selecting the most qualified individual to lead our team next year.”

Supporters of Prahalis questioned the board’s reasons for the dismissal and argued they acted too harshly. Some also felt that the district ignored and chose not to meet with students during the board’s investigation of the former coach.

“They have been trying to reach out to you from May 19,” said parent Gina Agostino. “We sent out a letter that day because players wanted to share their feelings on coach. Emails have been ignored, phone calls were not returned, request for meetings were blown off. You chose not to hear their voices … and treated them like adversaries the entire time.”

District officials disputed those claims saying they had reached out to parents.

Chris Agostino said the fact that the district would have their own agenda is embarrassing.

“I’ll tell you something, if I had students like this standing up for a coach the way these young ladies are, its powerful,” he said. “… What I don’t understand is that you get one complaint, maybe two complaints from parents or players and as a board you acted. You never listened to these students. You’re not looking out for them. If you were, you would understand how they feel.”

A parent of a former varsity girls basketball player said he supported the decision to release the coach. He detailed how in May he received a phone call from the district asking for permission for his daughter to be surveyed by the district’s athletic department regarding Prahalis and the basketball team.

He said he told his daughter to tell the truth and others did too and added that it was more than two complaints.

“My daughter for three years was treated terribly and was abused verbally and mentally without the board knowing, she wanted it that way and I stood by her,” he said. “Sammy’s [Prahalis] abusive record speaks for itself and anyone that asked about her knew about her reputation.”

Six former players of Prahalis were present at the meeting. Many of them spoke of how their coach was the best mentor they ever had and how they had learned and grown so much as a player during that time.

“Coach has transformed me not only as a better basketball player but also as a better person,” said Katherine Kelly, a rising senior on the varsity team. “She helped me gain the confidence I’ve been lacking on and off the court. She helped recognize my potential … She has made this team a family.”

This summer the team won in their league during the Brookhaven Town recreation program playoffs and credited their former coach for the strong summer season.

Cheryl Pedisich, Three Village superintendent of schools, spoke toward the end of the meeting to clarify some things parents brought up, including that she had said to Prahalis in a meeting that the district had failed her.

“I said the district had failed her in not giving her the proper mentorship, that I think every coach deserves, every new coach deserves,” she said. “For new coaches that don’t have that opportunity to know how to work with students is a travesty. That was something incumbent on the district and the former athletic director to make sure that happened for all new coaches. Moving forward every coach that is new will be mentored in an appropriate way.”

Post was updated Aug. 30 to include a statement from Three Village district officials. 

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By Julianne Mosher

The ninth annual Sikaflex Quick & Dirty Boat build went off without a hitch Sunday, Aug. 25 as a week of hot and humid air turned into a clear, warm day for racing hand-built boats.

Seven teams built their boats out of plywood and calk over Saturday and early Sunday before taking them into the water to race a short circuit around Port Jefferson harbor in front of Harborfront Park.

Peter Charalambous and Sunny Drescher won the day with their boat “The Winner,” while Chris Voorhis and Doug Santo finished second with the boat called No. 1. Kayla Kraker and Alex Serina took up third in their craft called Avalon 1.25. Dominic Ware and Kelsey Pagan won best design award for their craft called Sunny Days.

Kyra Sommerstad represents Port Jefferson at the Suffolk County championships. Photo from Sommerstad

Kyra Sommerstad, 17, lives for the water and the thrill of shaving seconds off her best swim times. Though she has been swimming competitively since she was 10, for nearly five years, her major goal was to make it to the Olympic trials. 

Kyra Sommerstad will be attending the Olympic trials in June 2020. Photo from PJSD

This year, during a meet at the Nassau County Aquatic Center, she was wide eyed when she reviewed her time for the 100-yard backstroke. Her time, 1:02.66, just under the qualifying time by .03 seconds.

“I hoped I would make the qualifying time any time this summer, but I really wasn’t expecting it at this event,” Sommerstad said. “When I looked up and saw my time, I didn’t really realize at first, so I had to do a double take to make sure the time was right, and I just got really emotional.”

Sommerstad’s dad, Ray, said at the time he and the rest of the audience weren’t especially looking at the times, instead focused on the intense back and forth between his daughter and another swimmer during the second backstroke leg, where each was neck and neck. Once she finally got out of the pool, only then did eyes turn up to her final times. 

“She goes to practice eight times a week, six days, some days she goes twice,” her father said. “She’s a hard worker — she shows up every day with a smile. Her positive enthusiasm is contagious.”

The Port Jefferson swimmer started in the pool when she was just under 10 years old, as part of what her dad described as every parent’s quest to find an activity for their kid that
would stick.

This one stuck. She took to the water like a fish, her parents said, and would improve in skill year after year after year. When she was 13, she set a goal for herself that she would make it to the Olympic trials, and she dedicated herself to that bar ever since.

While she represents the Port Jefferson high school in school swimming, for years, the Port Jeff swimmer has been practicing with the Three Village Swim Club. Her coach for the past three years, Mark Anderson, said she is as close to the perfect student as one can get. In his years of coaching, Sommerstad is the first he’s taught to qualify for the Olympic trials.

“She’s really a coach’s dream athlete — she makes corrections really well and she does what she’s told to do, and that’s really rare in a lot of people,” he said. “She’s finally starting to achieve every goal she’s set in front
of her.” 

When she made it her intention to make it to the Olympic qualifiers, she, her coach and her parents would look at the times expected to qualify increase from 1:03.99 in 2012 to 1:03.39 in 2016. For 2020, the time jumped by close to a full second.

Kyra Sommerstad represents Port Jefferson at the Suffolk County championships. Photo from Sommerstad

And in swimming, when shaving off decimals of a second in a swim time is considered solid work for months of effort, the task looked daunting.

“I’m happy if a swimmer takes off half a second in months trying to get better,” the coach said. “She made it by .03 … It’s a sport of hundreds of seconds, and it puts a lot of things in their lives in perspective.”

As well as being a Scholastic All-American recipient, Sommerstad currently is maintaining a 95 percent average in school and is already committed to The Ohio State University where she plans to compete in swimming. While she hasn’t settled on a specific major yet, she said she was looking into working with children, either in teaching or in occupational therapy.

Those who have seen her train know she puts the same amount of effort into training for swim meets as she does the other important aspects of her life.

“[Her academics] do not suffer at all for all the time she spends in the pool,” her father said. “It actually gives her discipline to make sure she manages her time effectively.”

Though she is heading to the Olympic trials, she, her family and her coach are trying to keep their expectations realistic, as she will be competing against the best swimmers from all across the nation. Despite this, Sommerstad, who is traveling from state to state competing in swim meets, expects her training to ramp up hard as they head to the Olympic trials June 22, 2020.

“I’m definitely going to be working a lot harder this year — doing some extra stuff out of the pool to maybe gain some muscle so I can swim faster,” she said. “I’m hoping to swim a best time at Olympic trials, so I can be seated higher among all the people who have made it.”

LI and tristate distance swimmers participate in one of world’s longest swim challenges

SHU Swim teammates Victoria Catizone, Nikole Rudis, Julia Pusateri and Shanna Haddow pose for a picture after finishing the grueling 15.5 mile trek. Photo from SWIM organization

Just over 30 years ago, in 1987, three swimmers and two boats launched from Port Jefferson. For more than 15 miles they dragged themselves across the dark blue-green waters of the Long Island Sound, finally making it to Bridgeport, all for the sake of those battling cancer. 

Swimmers take off from Port Jefferson to Bridgeport. Photo from SWIM organization Facebook

This year, just over 100 swimmers sank into the cold waters of the Sound early morning Aug. 3, and in three groups took off on the 15.5-mile trek across the Sound with around 64 support boats and 20 law enforcement vessels staying in pace beside them all the way across to Captain’s Cove Seaport in Bridgeport, Connecticut. 

The event is part of Bridgeport-based St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound Marathon, helping to support thousands of people in the Fairfield County, Connecticut area battling cancer. While in 1987 the swimmers raised approximately $5,000 for cancer charity, this has jumped to an average of $250,000 to $300,000 annually in modern times. So far, the foundation is halfway to its final goal of $300,000, while the SWIM program raises around $2 million a year through all their various events.

The money goes to the assistance of people suffering from cancer in the Connecticut area for financial assistance for things beyond what insurance provides, such as mortgage and tax bills. They also help provide mammograms and ultrasounds for uninsured women.

“The goal of the swim is to help patients get through the diagnosis and the cancer, a lot of them aren’t working,” said Lyn Fine-McCarthy, the executive director of St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation. “There is about 30,000 individuals every year that we help, these are patients who are going through cancer treatments, out of work, and sometimes are single moms, and just need a lot of financial assistance.”

Fine-McCarthy added they are grateful to Danfords Hotel & Marina for being the staging ground and home base for the event for years going on.

SHU Swim teammates Victoria Catizone, Nikole Rudis, Julia Pusateri and Shanna Haddow pose for a picture. Photo from SWIM organization

Each relay team is asked to raise a minimum of $7,500, while two-person teams must raise $3,500 and solo swimmers a minimum of $1,500.

While a majority of the swimmers were from Connecticut, a good portion came from the tristate area and from as far away as Tennessee and Florida. Two native Long Island swimmers and exercise science majors at Connecticut’s Sacred Heart University, Victoria Catizone, of Sayville, and Shanna Haddow, of Northport, participated in a team where they have already raised just over $3,000 for the event with a goal of reaching $7,500.

Haddow said this was the first time she and her three teammates have participated in the marathon, with her finishing in a time of 7 hours, 17 minutes.

“We had never done it before,” she said. “We knew what to expect, but not really what to expect. We were taking it swim by swim, and we knew we had a long day ahead of us.”

Haddow, has been swimming since she was 6 years old. She now swims distance for her college team, and said they trained year-round with two practices a day during the school semester and swimming all summer every day up until the start of the race.

Catizone, team captain, has been swimming for nine years, adding it wasn’t just their first time with the marathon, but collectively their first time in open water with the threat of the current, rising waves and poor visibility.

“You definitely start to feel it in your shoulders,” she said. “Once we got to mile 5 it got to be a little mentally grueling, but you just think about the reason why you’re doing it, and the people who you’re doing it for, and it helps you push through.”

Haddow said stepping into open water was at times a shock, sometimes literally as they approached the middle of the Sound where the temperature grew cold, and they swam on without wet suits. 

swimmers meet their boat professionals in front of Danfords Hotel & Marina. Photo by Kyle Barr

“Once we swam into Captain’s Cove, spirits were high again, and once we came in sight of the harbor, we kicked it into gear and all four of us were sprinting to make it to the finish,” she said, adding she was the last one to swim the last leg to the finish line. “Because you swam all day through 15.5 miles, just getting there and hearing your name being called, participating with such a great foundation, it was just the best feeling.”

Both the team and individual swimmers struggled the distance for people in their lives who have or are currently battling cancer. Catizone swam in honor of her grandparents and a friend who is a two-time cancer survivor. Haddow swam in honor of her grandfather, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer last year. As a team, they swam in memory of a SHU alumni family member who passed last year from cancer.

“Once it got really tough, I told myself, ‘Keep swimming,’ because it was not for me, it was for somebody else,” Haddow said.

Players and professionals work with children with special needs

Lacrosse players and professionals help young people with special needs. Photo by Michael Gargiulo

By Leah Chiappino

Sensory Solutions of Long Island, along with Middle Country Boys Lacrosse located in Port Jeff Station, sponsored their first All Inclusive Lacrosse Clinic, a program that pairs special needs children with an experienced player, July 30. The event was what the organization hopes to be the first of many, and is meant to not only teach lacrosse skills, but to build friendship and camaraderie. 

In a statement, the Inclusive Lacrosse League said their mission was to create an inclusive environment “that grows friendships as well as encourages the acceptance of all children. We are hoping to build the foundation where children with disabilities can increase their confidence and social skills through lacrosse, as well as create lifelong memories and positive experiences for all involved.”

With more than fifty children and fifty volunteers, the field at James D. McNaughton Memorial Park in Centereach was split up into stations, one to teach ground ball, another to teach passing and two to teach shooting. Volunteers consisted of high school lacrosse players, coaches, professional players and even some younger kids that play regularly. 

Jeff Reh, a two-time all-American Division I champion at Adelphi University and special education teacher, is president of the program. Having coached lacrosse, he partnered with Regina Giambone, one of four owners of Sensory Solutions, along with Michael Gargiulo, Larry Ryan, and Michelle Boschto, to launch the clinic. He has ideas to expand the program, which include possibly starting a league, or taking the children to Major League Lacrosse and Premier Lacrosse League games. He says the group received such a positive response, they had to cut down the capacity of participants. 

“Once we know what to expect and how to run things, this will grow and grow,” he said 

There are plans to start fundraising to help expand the program, for which the equipment was donated by Maverik Lacrosse. 

The coach says the work is worth it because of the impact it will have on building relationships for the special needs population. 

“The kids are going to really enjoy getting out of the house and meeting somebody,” he said. “Lacrosse is second. It’s really about the music and hanging out with their friends. They really just want to be part of something.”

Troy Reh, Jeff’s nephew and a player for the Chaos, a Premier Lacrosse League team, volunteered for the event. 

“I’m excited to see their smiles on their faces, and how happy they are to be out here,“ he said.  

Justin Reh, Troy’s twin and New York Lizards lacrosse team player, added, “These kids don’t get to do this every day and for us in our family to be able to give back is very special to us.”

Whitney Wolanski, a parent of one special needs child participating in the program, as well as another child who is volunteering, praised Giambone for her efforts. 

Lacrosse players and professionals help young people with special needs. Photo by Michael Gargiulo

“Regina is amazing, and I can’t say enough nice things about her,” she said. “My son would never get to experience this otherwise. It’s an incredible opportunity for not just the special needs population but for children who don’t have special needs, because if they’re not part of a JV team or varsity team, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for them to play either.”

Sensory Solutions of Long Island offers not only occupational, physical and speech therapy for the special needs population but also social groups, Zumba classes, art and music. 

“It allows kids to have an outlet in a fun, safe space that is not overwhelming for them,” Gargiulo said. 

Giambone added that the lacrosse clinic will help build bridges for the special needs community. 

“It’s going to help integrate the community because a lot of these kids cannot play sports competitively, and this gives them an opportunity to connect with professional players and the varsity lacrosse team,” she said. “We want to teach awareness and empathy, and at the same time give the kids a good experience.”

Ryan explained that the clinic could begin a wider impact in order to help integrate the special needs population. 

“I hope that those without special needs learn to interact with those who do have special needs and gain a little more understanding so when they see a classmate that’s struggling, they’re going to be more apt to help.”

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Max Nielsen at the pitcher’s mound June 4. Photo by John Dielman

The Ward Melville Patriots, the No. 1 seed in their league this year, completed a successful season in 2019.

The team made it to the Suffolk County finals but lost in game 3 to Connetquot. Coach Lou Petrucci said it was the third time the team went up against Connetquot in the finals.

Brady Doran heads to home base April 15. Photo by Bill Landon

For the spring 2019 season, Petrucci said it was difficult to name just one favorite game or play.

“Anytime a kid plays a high school baseball game on his home field, it’s a memorable game,” he said, adding it’s more about what the players take from the game.

It was a season where Max Nielsen, the only five-year player in Ward Melville history, struck out 18 batters in the Suffolk County semifinals. The stats are a Patriots record, according to Petrucci.

Among the accolades he garnered this year, the left-handed pitcher won the Suffolk County Baseball Coaches Association’s 52nd annual Carl Yastrzemski Award for Suffolk County’s top player. He is the third Patriots baseball player to win the coveted award in the last 12 years. Petrucci said, in the past, AJ Nunziato and current Mets pitcher Steven Matz have been among the winners. Nielsen was also named a member of Axcess Baseball’s All Decade Team 2010-2019 second team, and the SCBCA awarded him Suffolk County League 1 Most Valuable Player and All-County Selection, too.

Nielsen, who is already taking two classes at the University of Connecticut this summer, is modest about the awards.

“It’s an honor to receive them,” he said. “It’s all because of my teammates.”

Nielsen said the May 25 Suffolk Class AA elimination game against Commack stands out as a favorite for him. The pitcher, just back from an oblique injury, witnessed his teammate Matthew Franco hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the 6th with two outs and two strikes. The Patriots went on to win the game, 8-6.

If it weren’t for Petrucci, Nielsen said he wouldn’t be playing at his present level. He also credits his fellow teammates Brady Doran, Ethan Farino and Matthew Maurer for their hard work.

Ethan Farino takes a lead off first April 15. Photo by Bill Landon

“Without them, I don’t think we’d be in the position we were in this year,” Nielsen said.

The pitcher said the thing he will miss most about Ward Melville baseball is “playing with the kids I’ve been playing with since [ages] 8, 9, 10.”

Other Patriots racked in SCBCA awards including Farino for All-County, Doran and Maurer for All-League and Ryan Hynes for Academic All-League. Petrucci was the winner of League 1 Varsity Coach of the Year.

Petrucci said in addition to Nielsen playing for UConn, a few of the Patriots are moving on to play college baseball. Doran will play at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire; Farino at Marist College in Poughkeepsie; Maurer at Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut; Bryan Radzinsky at Immaculata University in Immaculata, Pennsylvania; and Patrick Schriffen at College of Old Westbury.

The coach said he thinks the players enjoyed playing baseball at Ward Melville.

“The kids gave their classmates, their parents and many people in the Three Village baseball community exciting baseball memories,” he said.

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By Julianne Mosher

For five years, the Engel family of Miller Place has been putting together a basketball tournament and barbecue in memory of their late son, Jake, who tragically lost his life in 2015 to a heroin overdose. 

But this year was special for the Jake Engel Hoops for Hope Barbecue – which sold out in just three days. On Friday, July 12, Brookhaven town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) stood with Jake’s family at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai to reveal the new name of the court that overlooks the harbor: The Jake Engel Memorial Basketball Court.

Inscribed with the words “Shine On” and an image of a man fishing, the notion for the memorial was decided last year. 

“Basketball and fishing are what Jake loved to do,” Bonner said. “This sign is a reminder of why we are here today and why we play this game every year.”

Shortly after Jake’s death, his brother and friends spontaneously organized a community basketball tournament in his name. Over the course of four years, the organization has raised over $40,000 that has been donated to Hope House Ministries, a Port Jefferson-based nonprofit organization that provides care and hope to individuals suffering
from addiction.

“Our main goal is to bring awareness of the opioid crisis we have here on Long Island and to bring the community together,” Jake’s mother, Karen Engel, said. 

The four-and-a-half hour event consisted of 28 teams of three to four players. Over a dozen volunteers helped with selling T-shirts, food and refreshments, along with a large raffle of donated items. Friday’s event raised roughly $12,000 and was the first year of the organization as a nonprofit. 

“This year’s tournament was really successful,” Geoff Engel, Jake’s brother, said. 

Four months ago, the family officially established the Jake Engel Hoops for Hope Foundation that looks to bring awareness, community and change to all people negatively affected by substance abuse in Suffolk County. 

“I want to thank the Engel family for taking such a horrible tragedy and turning it into something special,” Bonner said, “It takes a special person to do that.”

Port Jefferson Country Club hosted a sectional qualifying round July 15 for the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship, featuring local talent with the hope of making the cut to compete in the final round at Pinehurst (North Carolina) Resort and Country Club Aug 12-18.

The qualifier was one of 96 tournaments held across the country, and with 84 golfers vying for the top three spots to make the cut, Brent Ito of Ann Arbor, Michigan tied with Ethan Ng of New York City to finish at 7-under. Andrew Chambers of Boca Raton, Florida finished 5-under, to round out the top three.

Ward Melville alum and Port Jeff resident Gerald Mackedon, a junior at St. John’s University, shot a 68 in the first round followed by a 72 in the second, coming in at 4-under for the tournament to secure the first alternate position for the championship in Pinehurst.

Port Jeff resident Jon Sherman survived the first round with a 75 and shot a 79 in the second to finish at 10-over.

Port Jefferson resident and 2019 graduate Shane DeVincenzo, who earlier this season won his second consecutive Suffolk championship, went on to place second in the New York State championship round June 3 at Cornell University. DeVincenzo shot a 77.

Matthew Mirocco, another Ward Melville graduate, finished the day shooting 80.

Complete results can be found here.

Cris Bottari a resident of The Bristal Assisted Living at Lake Grove celebrates his 100th birthday July 3. Photo from Rubenstein Strategic Communications

On the afternoon of July 3, a few employees of The Bristal Assisted Living facility in Lake Grove were spotted wearing New York Mets shirts. They had a particular reason — they were preparing to celebrate the 100th birthday of one of their residents, who happens to be a big New York Mets fan.

Chris Bottari met retired Mets player Frank Catalanotto at his 100th birthday party. Photo from Rubenstein Strategic Communications

As they prepared, Crispin Bottari, the guest of honor, sat in the game room wearing a Mets T-shirt and a decades-old hat that featured the team’s logo and the Mr. Met mascot. The room is where he and his wife regularly work on puzzles that they later laminate for keepsakes.

The party that night wasn’t the first one for the centenarian. Bottari said a few days earlier his family threw one for him at the Blueblinds Mansion in Smithtown, where nearly 150 guests were in attendance.

“It felt like my heart was bursting when I saw all those people,” he said. “I had tears.”

Born July 3, 1919, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, he grew up a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers until they moved to Los Angeles in 1957. He said when he first met his wife, they would go to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn every Sunday and watch the team play.

A few years after the Dodgers departure, he discovered the Mets, initially watching them play at the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan before Shea Stadium was built in Queens. He remembers taking his daughter to a 1969 World Series game, the year the Mets won.

“They were misfits at the time, but they played, and they won a pennant, and in ’69 they won the World Series,” Bottari said.

A year ago, he had the chance to watch the team play at Citi Field, where he attended a ceremony honoring World War II veterans. Out of a few people that were invited, he said he was the only one able to attend, and the ballplayers presented him with a flag and a baseball.

Bottari said he doesn’t have a favorite player now, but he lists Tom Seaver among his favorites from the 1969 Miracle Mets.

Bottari meeting Frank Sinatra while serving in Greenland during World War II. Photo from the Bottari family

“Talk about gung-ho,” he said. “They did it the way it should be done.”

While Bottari and his family love baseball, there is another love in their lives — music.

“Music in my family precedes everything, because everyone in my family somehow, someway is musically inclined,” he said, adding he owns a 70-year-old guitar that was given to him by his father that he is unable to play nowadays due to arthritis.

He remembered playing that guitar when he first met his wife, Anne. She was in a group called the Mayfair Trio with her sister and friend, and he would accompany them on guitar. The group would entertain injured soldiers in hospitals along the East Coast.

Bottari said he enjoyed seeing the big bands play in the city when he was a young man. One day he went to the Paramount Theatre in New York City to see Benny Goodman and his band, and he noticed that Frank Sinatra was also billed as playing. He said at the time he hadn’t heard of Sinatra and was surprised to see hundreds of teenage girls screaming and yelling.

During World War II, while serving in the Army with the 417th Engineer Company building airstrips in Greenland, Bottari met Sinatra, who he said would have breakfast with the soldiers every morning for the week he was in Greenland. While Bottari enjoyed having the singer around and took a picture with him, his fellow soldiers, who hadn’t heard about the entertainer, didn’t know what the big deal was and asked what his name was.

“Frank Sinatra,” he told them. “When the war is over, you’re going to hear about him,” he said.

While baseball and music have played a big part in Bottari’s life, family is the most important to him. His father, who was a tailor, immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was a teenager. He said his parents met through a matchmaker. At first, his mother felt hesitant about her future husband, because he didn’t speak English, but her mother encouraged her to teach him. The two would sit in the parlor and practice the language. Bottari is one of four sons born to the couple.

The centenarian said he never would have imagined celebrating his 100th birthday. While his mother lived to be 97, his father died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 50, while coming out of a subway station.

Crispin Bottari spending time at his daughter’s home. Photo from the Bottari family

“Fifty years old,” he said. “What is wrong with this picture.”

Bottari said another sorrow in his life was the death of his three younger brothers.

Despite the sorrow of losing his brothers, his own family has brought him immense joy. Sixty-nine years ago, he married his wife, Anne, who is now 94 years old.

He said he was at a dance and when the young woman he was dancing with excused herself to talk to someone else, he started talking to Anne. He asked his future wife for her phone number, and when she said she didn’t have a pen, he said, “I can solve that situation,” and lit a match and used the charcoal to write her number on the matchbook.

As for the secret to a long marriage, Bottari said it’s important to talk to each other.

“If you have a problem, resolve it,” he said.

Anne Bottari agreed and described her husband as an easygoing man. Both also said it helped that they had children who always got along and visit them often, because it keeps them going.

The Bottaris raised their five daughters in Jamaica, Queens.

“One smarter than the other,” he said. “They’re smarter than their father.”

With six females in the house, to get a chance to get into the bathroom before going to work as an accumulator of salaries for the Social Security Administration in the city, Bottari said he would wake up an hour earlier than needed.

Nearly 40 years ago, when their daughters began moving out of the house, the Bottaris relocated to Selden to be near their children, who were starting to have children of their own. The couple now has 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Through the years in Selden, the biggest change Bottari said he has seen is the increase of the numbers of condos and stores in the area.

The couple moved into The Bristal in 2015, but Bottari said they get out often to attend family functions. He loves visiting his daughter and son-in-law, Donna and Matty Kaspak, in St. James and seeing their dog, Cooper. His son-in-law said that Bottari is always there when the family needs them, whether it’s to see his nephew playing with a band or his grandson wrestling.

“The TV goes off, and he’s in the car,” Kaspak said.

When it comes to tips for living a long life, Bottari said he’s not sure he can speak about what to eat or not eat, admitting he loves a hot dog and a beer at a baseball game.

“Each individual person has his own genes that he’s acquired from someone else in his family,” Bottari said.

On the night of his 100th birthday, in addition to family and friends, retired Mets player Frank Catalanotto was on hand at The Bristal, and Bottari received a custom-made Mets hat with his name and number 100 on it and a plate signed by Catalanotto from the facility’s employees.