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  • Monday, July 25, 2016

    Ball Players Thank Vets in Nursing Homes

    WWII vet signs ball.

    WWII vet Bob Walker autographs ball.

    UTICA, July 25 – Young ball players in the New York State American Legion Baseball Championships spent a pre-tournament afternoon visiting nursing-home-bound military veterans, asking them to autograph baseballs and thanking them for their service.  (Photo Gallery.)

    “It’s such a great experience for the kids,” noted Tim Lucey, manager of Brooks Shepard Post of Fairport. It lets them see a “slice of life.”

    Some of the veterans spoke of their war experiences while others talked baseball and even offered a few tips.

    Ball players visit nursing home vets.

    WWII Marine Frank Traglia talks baseball and offers advice to players from the Maine-Endwell Post Spartans of Endicott. The players, from left, are Drew Gallagher, Alex Zimmerman and Jake Morris.

    “Baseball is my big love,” World War II Marine Frank Traglia told the visitors, and then offered some advice: “Stay away from drugs. Play the game clean. Don’t brag… Team harmony is what it’s all about.”

    American Legion Department of New York Commander John B. Sampson and his wife, Vicki, accompanied one group of players to Sitrin Health Care. Another group visited St. Luke’s Home.

    “The Legion runs many programs,” said Commander Sampson. “Baseball is one of the biggest. These kids aren’t just learning athletics and sportsmanship and baseball. They’re also learning a bit about community service and what it means to serve your country.”

    Nursing home vet autographs ball.

    Army Veteran Dolores Zawaza, who served in Rome, Italy following World War II, autographs baseball for Nick Turturro of Brooks Shepard Post.

    Tournament Director Mike Macchione of host Adrean Post organized the nursing home visits.

    The tournament kicks off Tuesday, July 26, at Utica’s Donovan Stadium at Murnane Field, with Sampson throwing out the first pitch.