Out of the park: Charity softball game honors Fort Ham base

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Batter Up: Craig Carton prepares to swing.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Fans smile as they watch the charity softball game.
Boom or Bust: Boomer Esiason tosses a pitch to the Fort Hamilton batter.
Homeward Bound: Eddie Scozzare tries to tag out a Fort Hamilton player at the plate.

In the end, everyone felt like a winner.

Former New York Jets star quarterback — and current radio and television personality — Boomer Esiason, together with Craig Carton, his co-host on the “Boomer and Carton” WFAN FM radio show, hosted a charity softball game at Fort Hamilton on June 16, pitting Esiason’s squad of celebrities against a team of Fort Hamilton military all-stars.

Esiason’s team prevailed, 22-17, in 11 innings, but Esiason, and everyone else involved, got even more satisfaction out of the opportunity to mark the birthday of the United States Army, and highlight all the good things the armed forces do.

“They still are part of something that is so much greater than we are,” the NFL commentator said. “Something that we really appreciate is the sacrifice that they make.”

Esiason’s team included himself, Carton, professional hockey player Matt Martin, former pro quarterback Chris Simms, former New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, WFAN staff members Tommy Izzo, Vicky Biello, Eddie Scozzare and Mike Rumel, Dipietro’s friend Lou “Rivers” Mastellone, local comedian John Kurschner, and Boomer’s nephew Randy Williams.

Fort Hamilton jumped out to an early 8–1 lead after the first three innings, but couldn’t hold onto it. Esiason’s team out-scored Fort Hamilton 13–3 over the next three frames, taking a 14–11 lead after six innings. From then on, the teams went back and forth until they hit extra innings. The score remained tied until the 11th, when a five-run scoring outburst by Esiason’s all-stars catapulted them to victory.

“People thought we were going to let them win but that wasn’t going to happen,” Esiason boasted. “We play to win no matter what the umpires try to do to us! It doesn’t matter! We’re winners!”

Williams was the game’ standout, going 4-for-5 with two home runs, including a three-run bomb that helped hia uncle’s team take a one-run lead at the top of the fifth. Williams also scored four times and had five runs batted in. Simms and Izzo, also acquitted themselves well, each scoring twice with two runs batted in, while combining for nine hits.

It wasn’t all about the competition, however, and the squad of celebs kept the mood light throughout the charity matchup.

Mastellone was a last-second replacement after former Major Leaguer Mickey Rivers, who couldn’t make it, so the team gave him Rivers’ jersey, and made sure to refer to him by the wrong name all night. A fair amount of fans also came to the game believing — wrongly — that Izzo was the famous Michigan State basketball coach of the same name.

“They brought basketballs for him to sign,” Beillo laughed. “It was hilarious!”

Both the Fort Hamilton and the “Boomer and Carton” staff did their best to make the game fun for everyone — holding raffles for charity, giving out complimentary ribs and cake, and setting up booths that sold sausages, ice cream, and lemonade — and alcoholic beverages. Fans joyfully heckled Esiason and his teammates, who consistenly played it for laughs.

“To come out to play softball on a beautiful Friday night, it’s our pleasure. It’s our honor,” Boomer said. “I think I speak for Craig and everybody else when I say it’s a lot of fun.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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