Monday, July 27, 2015
Commander, Former Yankee to Help Kick Off Tournament
UTICA — The New York State American Legion Baseball Championship Tournament gets underway Tuesday, July 28, with state Commander James Yermas throwing out the first pitch.
Tournament Director Mike Macchione says a special guest is catching that pitch – former New York Yankee World Series MVP Russell Earl “Bucky” Dent.
Dent is also conducting a mini-clinic Tuesday for the Legion players in the practice field.
Dent earned two World Series rings as the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978, and was voted the World Series MVP in 1978. Dent is most famous for his home run in a tie-breaker game against the Boston Red Sox at the end of the 1978 season. Following his playing career, he managed teams in both the major league and minor league systems.
Commander Yermas accompanied a group of young players to visit nursing home veterans Monday afternoon before speaking at the pre-tournament banquet Monday evening at Hart’s Hill Inn.
Dent offered a few remarks, too, before setting down to answer a number of questions submitted by the young players, with Genesis Group Executive Director Ray Durso acting as emcee.
Dent encouraged the young players to pursue their dream, but to recognize that “baseball is not an easy game; it’s a demanding game.” Players need to practice and practice, even if it’s something as simple as bouncing a ball off a wall. He stressed the importance of the fundamentals, but also emphasized the need to have fun at every level of baseball.
County Executive Anthony Picente said it was an honor for the area to again host the American Legion tournament and told the young players there’s an important lesson in playing Legion ball. “You’re playing in honor of veterans” and “the American Legion, an organization that represents the finest men and women in the country.”
He brought a proclamation declaring July 27 as Bucky Dent Day in Oneida County.
Commander Yermas offerd kudos to state Baseball Chairman Bruce Mayfield and to Tournament Director Mike Macchione and his committee, and told the players: “Good luck. God Bless. And I hope you’re all winners.”