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September 23, 2011

Community

Sept. 11 softball game brings McCoy, Sparta communities together

Story & photos by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

Although Angelini’s beat Fort McCoy 22-11, everyone participating in the Sept. 11 softball game left the field a winner. The game was played at Memorial Park in Sparta, the home field for Angelini’s Pizzeria and Ristorante.

Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. David Chesser said both teams selected the particular day to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2011.
PHOTO: Master Sgt. Darrin Stallworth is a micro-second away from smashing the ball in the Fort McCoy-Angelini’s softball game in Sparta. Photo by Tom Michele
Master Sgt. Darrin Stallworth is a micro-second away from smashing the ball in the Fort McCoy-Angelini’s softball game in Sparta.

“The game, like the three previous games, was a symbolic moment for both teams,” Chesser said. “This one tied all of us together in the 9/11 observance, and it was an honor for all of us to compete.”

It was the fourth 16-inch Chicago-style softball game between the two teams in the past two years, and the first win for Angelini’s.

“I’m glad Tony Angelini won the trophy he originally created for the softball series and reclaimed it as it is named in honor of his son, Mario, who is battling autism,” Chesser said. “The games have brought the Fort McCoy and Sparta communities together, to meet each other at the games at the post and in town. Mr. Angelini is a tremendous partner in this program and other Fort McCoy Morale, Welfare, and Recreation and Army Community Service programs. His donations have improved the quality of life for Soldiers.”

Chesser also said the spirit of the game was expressed in the inscription on the Fort McCoy team’s T-shirts, “In remembrance of the 9/11 attack and to honor those in the Armed Forces who have fought so valiantly in the Global War on Terrorism.”
“And the game was just plain fun, just as it was intended to be,” Chesser said.

Angelini said the ball game series is a great relationship for the post and the city. “It is especially appropriate to have the game on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and dedicating the game to the 9/11 victims and their Families.”

“The games are a good time to get together and enjoy the camaraderie,” Angelini said. “It is also a good way to say ‘good bye’ to Colonel Chesser as he retires from the Army next spring.”

PHOTO: Clarinets, saxophones and trombones make up part of the Sparta High School Band that played for the pre-game festivities, and the national anthem, at the Fort McCoy-Angelini’s softball game in Sparta. Photo by Tom Michele
Clarinets, saxophones and trombones make up part of the Sparta High School Band that played for the pre-game festivities, and the national anthem, at the Fort McCoy-Angelini’s softball game in Sparta.

Some of that support came in the form of 30 members of the Sparta High School Band who played pep band tunes before the game, and, in the dignified role and attitude of the day, played the Star Spangled Banner moments before the game’s first pitch was thrown.

Band co-director Joe Gantzner said his summer camp band students were practicing on a street at the high school and Angelini was momentarily stopped in traffic.

“He talked with us and suggested band members participate at the Army-Angelini’s game, “Gantzner said. “And so it came to be.”

Chaplain (Col.) Tom Phelan, the Fort McCoy Site Support Chaplain, spoke for several minutes as part of the opening ceremonies for the game.

He commented upon that morning’s Religious Support Office service that had been held as the 10th anniversary remembrance of Sept. 11; included a few remarks from his sermon, and concluded with an invocation for the game that was similar to a prayer used at the service that morning. His comments were well-received by those in attendance.

Sparta resident Jim Wiggins gave several remarks to start the opening ceremonies, mostly on a “light-hearted” theme, yet observing the 9/11 connection and also thanking all participants for making the festivities enjoyable.

As for the game, Fort McCoy took a four-run lead in the top of the first inning, but Angelini’s countered with four in the bottom half. The Army got one run in the second, to none for the hosts that frame. McCoy scored two in the top of the third, but Angelini’s powered five across the plate in the bottom half, never to trail again.

One of McCoy’s bright spots was Master Sgt. Darrin Stallworth’s solo inside-the-park home run.

Stallworth added a run-batted-in single in the eighth inning, but Angelini’s poked in four in the sixth, one in the seventh and five in the eighth.

A bases-loaded double by Jeff Ames in the eighth was followed by a bases-loaded triple by Ryan Roberts to cement the win for Angelini’s.

Chesser did all of the Army’s pitching, with Angelini performing all of the mound chores for his team.

Fort McCoy team members included Sgt. Jason Vazquez, Sgt. Manuel Salema, 1st Lt. Shane Ramnarine, Capt. Matthew Wright, Capt. Ryan Pregel, Maj. Blaine Markuson, Master Sgt. Gerald Maynard, Spc. Nick Respicio, Lt. Col. Dan Andresen, 1st Sgt. Justin Maloney, Maj. Thomas Akerlund, Maj. Gen. Glenn Lesniak, Chesser and Stallworth.

Angelini’s team members were George Dealba, Jeff Ames, Trevor Jones, Craig DeBoer, Matt Johnson, Dale Stefen, Ryan Roberts, Steve Gorshe, Caleb Diercks and Angelini.

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