Saturday, February 4, 2012

New York well represented at 2012 Joe DiMaggio Legends Game

With over a dozen former New York Mets and Yankees represented at the 24th annual Joe DiMaggio Legends Game in Fort Lauderdale last Saturday, the retired heroes of Gotham baseball did their best to honor the memory of the famed Yankee Clipper while supporting the children’s hospital which bears his name.

1969 Mets Jim McAndrew and Ron Swoboda at the Joe DiMaggio Legends game
The game was the culmination of a two-day event, which included a fabulous auction and player reception at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood the evening prior, where sadly Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson suffered a broken clavicle after a fall off stage.

Doing their best to push forward after the injury to Robinson, the players radiated as much as the 80-degree sun, donning their uniforms for the enthusiastic crowd. Among the participants were the 85-year-old Minnie Minoso, Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Orlando Cepeda, as well as the ever colorful characters of Bill “Spaceman” Lee and Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd.

The alumni were split in two teams representing the American and National Leagues. After seven innings, the National League emerged victorious, 12-5; however, for the players, the score was irrelevant. The weekend was an opportunity to raise money for the hospital while being able to return another year to connect with their fellow teammates and cronies.

“Just to see the players that I haven’t seen for a year and the players that I played against that you were never able to sit down and talk to is great," said 1969 New York Met World Series hero Al Weis. "It’s a wonderful bunch of guys they have coming down.”

Ron Blomberg, the famed Yankee designated hitter, has multiple connections to this game, including his son Adam who is a doctor at the hospital.

“This is my seventh year coming here," Blomberg said. "Older players took care of me when I played and if I can give back to the kids, do anything for the charity, I’m involved. My son is the head anesthesiologist at Memorial, so it’s a father-son thing.”

The site of the game, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, was the spring training home of the Yankees for many years until they moved to Tampa. For players like Fritz Peterson, returning to South Florida brought back memories of a burgeoning baseball career.

“I’ve been coming out about five years … it’s a tremendous thing," Peterson said. "This is where I really started in 1966 and played all through my career until I was out of there. This is my spring training home. When the Yankees moved to Tampa, it just didn’t seem right; this seemed like the place to be.”

Event organizers are already planning next year’s event, which will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the game, and is surely expected to be a star studded affair. For more information on the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, please visit


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