Big leaguers, celebrities pitch in for charity
Softball matchups benefit Boomer Esiason Foundation, Actors Fund
NEW YORK -- For the second day in a row, Bernie Williams took to the Yankee Stadium field. On Sunday, it was for one of the franchise's oldest traditions -- the Old-Timers Day game.
Monday brought a newer tradition, and a different experience, but one that was equally as rewarding.
Yankee Stadium played host to Boomer Esiason's third annual "Bombers Boomer Broadway Softball Classic," a charity softball game to benefit the Boomer Esiason Foundation Fighting Cystic Fibrosis and the Actors Fund. This year, the game also played host to a cast of Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team members -- who left an impression on Williams.
"You can't help but feeling the admiration and gratitude and a lot of great things," Williams said. "The fact that I was here interacting with them and spending some time with them, it was just an unbelievable experience."
Williams, who insists his back-to-back days at the Stadium aren't the start of a comeback, helped lead the Bombers team -- made up of Wounded Warriors and former Yankees -- to a 10-4 victory over Team Boomer in the main event of Monday's doubleheader. The day started with a matchup of two teams comprised of Broadway stars. The Time Square Slammers, led by Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game staple Nick Jonas, routed the Broadway Bombers, 19-6.
But that game was just a precursor to the main event, a cavalcade of stars and heroes taking to the Yankee Stadium diamond for the second day in a row.
On Sunday the heroes were legendary Yankees like Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson. On Monday, it was those who served America overseas in the military.
"They are truly, truly amazing examples, not only of heroism and bravery, but, big picture, for anybody who's dealing with a disability whether it be cystic fibrosis or somebody confined to a wheelchair," said Esiason, who's son has cystic fibrosis. "They are an inspiration in so many ways."
Last year, two of the Wounded Warriors who played in Monday's game -- Saul Bosquez and Matt Kinsey -- participated in the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game. In a matter of weeks, a third Wounded Warrior, Josh Wege, will take to the Citi Field grass to put his talents on display on an even larger stage.
After the game, when fans were allowed to stream onto the field, it was the Wounded Warriors who grasped most of the attention -- even with Williams, Orlando Hernandez and an array of other former Yankees on the field. Fans posed with the former soldiers, who stole the show in the blowout win. Wege wasn't exactly impressed with his own performance, but even the Wisconsin native appreciated the chance to play at the revered stadium.
Plus, he can just redeem himself in a couple weeks across town.
"This is amazing," Wege said "It's a beautiful stadium. It's such a different experience."
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.