By Janee Law
When members of the Huntington Manor Fire Department and officers of the Suffolk Police Department’s 2nd Precinct joined forces to play a softball game 28 years ago, they decided to turn the game into a yearly charitable event.
“The first year was just to get together and have a softball game to have some fun,” Mike Pastore, commissioner and ex-chief of the Huntington Manor Fire Department, said. “At the end, we threw money into a hat and we raised $125.”
That money was donated to a children’s fund at Huntington Hospital, he explained.
“And that’s when it started.”
Now, the annual event has raised more than $105,000 for charitable causes throughout the Town of Huntington. Most recently, on Aug. 28, the 28th annual game drew a total of 60 participants, was played before a crowd of nearly 100 and raised $1,500. The police officers won this year’s contest, 25-15.
Along with Pastore, 2nd Precinct Police Officer Stephen Caratozzolo also helped put the event together.
“It’s good comradery between the fire department and the police department,” Pastore said. “It’s a fun day… and we’ve made many friendships through the years with the different firemen and officers going through each department.”
Each year, the game is hosted at Peter A. Nelson Park on Oakwood Road in Huntington. Nelson, a former chief at the Huntington Manor Fire Department, died helping rescue civilians at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Pastore said that Nelson was a big part of the charity game when it started and that playing at the park every year is a tribute to his memory.
In the past, Pastore said, funds raised by the game were donated to families put out of their homes due to a fire, or families with a sickly member. Pastore said this year’s cause is currently being decided and a beneficiary will be decided on a later date.
He added that the charity game has grown into more than just a game through the years. It now incorporates raffles with prizes and the sale of t-shirts. This year’s raffles included gift certificate donations from local businesses, including Camp-Site Sport Shop, Mr. Sausage, Mario’s Pizzeria, Noble Nail Salon and Pomodorino Ristorante. The Long Island Ducks also donated a baseball signed by Bud Harrelson and tickets to a Ducks game.
“It’s been great and the friendships that have been made are the best,” Pastore said, adding that they plan on carrying out the tradition for years to come. “It’s an ongoing fund so that we can help people in need in Huntington Station.”