By Michael Logan
The City of Glen Cove hit the diamond to celebrate its 350th anniversary with a baseball game. But this was no ordinary baseball event. Actually, it was a vintage baseball game using the 1864 rules. The biggest difference is that no gloves were worn and anything caught on a bounce resulted in an out.
The event began at 7:30 p.m. at the John Maccarone Memorial City Stadium as the Brooklyn Atlantics battled the New York Mutuals. After a game that included friendly trash talk, the Atlantics won the game 17-4.
As fans made their way into the stands, they were greeted by Mr. Met, old-time music and a field strewn with players that resembled those from more than 150 years ago. Scruffy beards and ripped uniforms with pill box caps were worn by many players. It was almost as if the community stepped into a time machine to take in the beautiful weather and the unusual entertainment.
“I don’t know what this game is, but a like it,” one fan said during the game.
“If you catch it off a bounce, you’re out?” another fan wondered with a bewildered look on his face.
Part of the draw for the old time baseball game is that it catches the audience’s attention with its different set of rules. Sometimes it can confuse the game’s best athletes.
“One time we were playing a team that just acquired a retired minor leaguer,” Frank “Shakespeare” VanZant of the Brooklyn Atlantics said. “He was clearly the best player on the field with a beautiful stroke. In his first at bat he took a big hack, foul tipped it and the catcher caught the ball on one bounce. He was out and had no clue.”
“In his second at bat, he clobbered the first pitch he saw about 400 feet,” VanZant continued. “The ball hit the tree, then the ground and the outfielder was there to catch it off of one bounce. Now, we had the best player on the field at 0-2. This game can be really humbling.”
Glen Cove has had its fair share of baseball talent over the years. Most notably, Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella lived in Glen Cove during his career. Next year will mark the 100th anniversary that the disease is in need of bone marrow transplant that could cure his disease and a local woman has made it her mission her to help him find a match by holding a bone marrow registration drive on Sunday, June 10, during the Greek Village Festival at the Church of the Holy Resurrection in Brookville.
“My passion is always helping cancer patients and very sick children,” said Vasilianna Fakiris, a social worker who worked for the Bone Marrow Foundation from 2000 to 2003 and currently serves on the board of the foundation. “Bone marrow transplants save lives, so it’s crucial to find a match.”
Fakiris learned the story of the baby, Elias, who lives in Michigan with his family, and immediately reached out to the family and got involved. Elias is of Greek descent and suffers from a rare immunodeficiency disease called NEMO, nuclear factor-kappa B essential modulator deficiency syndrome (NEMO). This complex disease affects the skin and immune system and makes patients susceptible to severe and life-threatening bacterial infections, making even the most minor illnesses life threatening. NEMO affects only boys and is so rare that Elias’ diagnosis in October made him just the 22nd registered NEMO case in the United States.
“Initially, doctors did not think he would make it to 7 months old, but Elias continues to fight,” said Fakiris.
Elias has held on for 9 months, two months longer than expected. However, with a compromised immune system, keeping him healthy is challenging—even a cold could be deadly.
Through her years of experience, Fakiris has seen the impact on patients’ lives through bone marrow donations. She said that while about a third of the patients undergoing bone marrow or stem cell transplants have family members who are matches, about 70 percent rely on strangers. So far, Fakiris said the baby has no matches on any of the Greek registries, so she wants to help broaden the list of potential donors and thought that holding the drive in conjunction with the Greek Village Festival could help draw more people.
“Though Elias currently has no matches, his mother is still holding onto hope that her young son will get a second chance at a healthy life,” said Fakiris.
Fakiris is holding the drive through DKMS, an international nonprofit organization that aims to raise awareness about blood cancers and blood disorders while recruiting donors, raising funds and supporting research of new and improved therapies for patients.
Though the family lives in Michigan, she feels so strongly about the cause that she organized the drive.
“I would do this for anybody,” she said. “I could help save a life. And if it were my child, I’d want everyone going out to find a match.”
Her son, Peter, and his friend, Peter Pappas, both 14 and students at Friends Academy, are helping run the drive on Sunday. The first step is signing up to be on the registry list and swabbing your cheek. The organization calls if you’re a match.
“Once you’re on the registry, you could be a match for anyone in need,” said Fakiris. “I’ve heard a lot of amazing stories of people who have donated and saved a life.”
Donors must be between the ages of 18 to 55. The drive will be held on Sunday, June 10, from 1 to 4 p.m. at 1400 Cedar Swamp Rd in Brookville. Call/text Fakiris at 917-335-4886 or visit dkms.org for more info.