By Clayton Collier
Radio personalities and local sports greats alike went head-to-head in the first-ever Frank Catalanotto Foundation vs. Boomer and Carton All-Stars Celebrity Softball Game held at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip, Sunday.
The event, put together by 14-year MLB veteran and Smithtown native Frank Catalanotto, was organized to raise awareness for vascular birthmarks, with all proceeds from the event benefiting the Frank Catalanotto Foundation, which supports the Vascular Birthmark Foundation.
In addition to Catalanotto, former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, former NBA All-Star Wally Szczerbiak, former NFL MVP and current radio personality Boomer Esiason, co-host of WFAN’s Boomer and Carton, Craig Carton, 1969 New York Met and Long Island Ducks manager Bud Harrelson, former New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro and former Yankees utilityman Jim Leyritz were just some of the All-Stars who took the field for the game.
Catalanotto said he was grateful to all of the fans as well as the celebrities, television and radio personalities and local sports greats that came out to help raise awareness.
“That’s what it’s all about, it’s about the support for the foundation,” Catalanotto said. “To see these people come out, it shows that they care. I know they’re here to see a softball game, but they’re also here helping out a good cause.”
“I’m very happy and very appreciative of the players who came out,” he said. “Some of these guys had to get on planes or cross bridges to get here, so I really do appreciate that.”
The Frank Catalanotto All-Stars bested the Boomer and Carton All-Stars in walk-off fashion by a final score of 6-5.
The eight-inning contest was knotted up at 2-2 for much of the game before the FCF All-Stars drove in a pair in the bottom of the seventh. The Boomer and Carton All-Stars, thanks to some timely hitting from Esiason, tacked on a three-spot to make it a 5-4 game. The lead wouldn’t be held for long, though, as the FCF All-Stars rallied again, eventually walking off on a base hit by former Islander Claude Lapointe.
“It was good because we had some late-inning drama, the crowd got into it and we were able to come back for the walk-off win,” Catalanotto said.
DiPietro, who had a triple in the game, loved the atmosphere of the crowd.
“This is crazy man, a lot of Islanders fans, a lot of Islanders chants,” he said. “This is a great way to spend a Sunday morning.”
Carton, who after doing his famous impression of Yankees broadcaster Suzyn Waldman, announced to the crowd that his team was “here to win.” The WFAN morning host hit an inside-the-park home run in his first at-bat, and outside of a defensive miscue here or there, had a solid day overall. Carton seemed pleased with his own performance, but satirically pointed the finger at some of his celebrity teammates imploding late.
“Suddenly it’s a one-run game, we’re in the bottom of the last inning and some guys start playing differently,” he said. “I was not among them. I played consistently average all the way through the game. I thought it actually went well. I take it as a moral victory. Frank should win, it’s his event, but we’ll be back next year and win one.”
Carton said he may try to mimic Catalanotto’s lineup — made up of a fair quantity of family members and former NHL players — next time around.
“Next time I’m out here I’ll bring some Canadians and Catalanottos and I’ll try to win one for the good guys,” he said.
Catalanotto said he was pleased to see everyone have a great day for a great cause.
The amount of money raised by the charity softball game is still being calculated, but Catalanotto created his foundation to support the Vascular Birthmark Foundation after the organization helped him find proper treatment for his oldest daughter, Morgan, who was born with a vascular birthmark on her nose.
For more information about the Frank Catalanotto Foundation and vascular birthmarks, or to donate, you can visit www.fcatalanotto.org.