Huntington native Joe Bartumioli said he was so moved when he watched HBO's "Real Sports" report on the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team last September that he made it his personal mission to bring the team to Long Island, and his vision is coming true on Aug. 4.
The team, which is not affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project, includes nearly 20 amputee veterans from the post-9/11 era, all of whom wear some form of prosthesis. They are coming to the South Fork for a Friday evening cocktail reception at in Sag Harbor on Aug. 3 and a softball game against local celebrities and all-stars at in Sag Harbor on Aug. 4.
Bartumioli, an Investment Financial Advisor at UBS Financial Services in Melville, said that last summer several friends in The Hamptons College Baseball League asked him if he could help with a fundraiser. He said they bounced around some ideas, but could not settle on anything; that was until he learned of the amputee softball team.
Bartumioli contacted the coach of the team, David Van Sleet. "He mentioned how the team would love to visit and play on Long Island. I started putting pieces together and here we are," Bartumioli said.
This will be the first-time for the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team to play on Long Island.
"You know, the most amazing thing about these guys, is you say thank you to these guys, and they say thank you right back, " Bartumioli said.
The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team's mission is "to raise awareness, through exhibition and celebrity softball games, of the sacrifices and resilience of our military, and highlight their ability to rise above any challenge," according to its website.
East End residents will have an opportunity to not only come watch a game for a good cause, but they will be witnessing a piece of history as the team will be bringing the National 9/11 Flag of Honor with them. The Flag of Honor will be heading to it's permanent home at the 9/11 museum shortly, so local Long Islanders are encouraged by the team to take advantage of this special occasion.
Sag Harbor Whalers General Manager Tom Gleeson said some of the local celebrity players taken part include WPPB radio personality Bonnie Grice, J.J. Franco, son of former New York Mets pitcher John Franco and in infielder for the Sag Harbor Whalers, Sag Harbor attorney Eddie Burke Jr., and sports radio and television broadcaster Ann Liguori.
The cocktail reception on Aug. 3 will begin at 3 p.m. The following day's events begin with a Ross School visit of the National 9/11 Flag of Honor, and at noon the teams will arrive at the field for a special meet and greet with the sponsors. At 12:45 p.m., the players will warm-up, and at 1:20 the pre-game action will begin.
The players will be introduced, followed by a presentation of colors. The National 9/11 Flag of Honor will be held in centerfield during the National Anthem, sung by members of the FDNY and the boy scouts. The game begins at 2 p.m. with Ed Vetri, CEO and President of Wind-up Records throwing out the first pitch.
Admission is free, and there will be a meet and greet at the end of the game in which anyone who is interested will be allowed to come on the field and meet the players, get autographs, and take photos.
All proceeds from sponsorship and donations will be divided between the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the Hamptons Baseball League.
An opportunity to participate in the day's game for one Bench Coach and a Bat Boy for the softball team is being auctioned off on Ebay through midnight on July 30.