Baseball's 'Aces' Popular with Visitors and Staff
UHS Hospitals Engineering Department employee Dave "Pappi" Amaro, center, was among a number of staff and visitors who welcomed Gina "Chirpie" Casey and Stack Pierce to UHS Wilson Aug. 27. Dave, who once played in the minor leagues in his native Puerto Rico and now coaches youth baseball, had much in common to discuss with Ms. Casey and Mr. Pierce, both of whom are retired professional baseball stars.
Dozens of people received free autographed baseballs and enjoyed the chance to talk with retired baseball stars Aug. 27 when members of the "Black Aces" organization visited UHS Wilson in connection with the Jim "Mudcat" Grant All-Star Golf Tournament Aug. 28 in Greater Binghamton.
Former professional ballplayers Gina "Chirpie" Casey and Stack Pierce signed autographs and talked with patients, visitors and employees in the cafeteria lobby area of Picciano 1.
Ms. Casey played second base in the minor league division of the All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League, which existed from 1943 to 1954. The organization later was the subject of the hit movie, "A League of Their Own" (1992), starring Geena Davis and Tom Hanks. Today Ms. Casey is an official representative of the historical league.
Mr. Pierce was a champion boxer who later played pro baseball for the Cleveland Indians and the Milwaukee Braves. From the 1970s through the 1990s he was a prominent Hollywood actor, appearing in such films as "The Prisoner of Second Avenue," "A Rage in Harlem" and "The Greatest," and on such TV series as "Mannix" and "Mission: Impossible." He was memorable as a space alien in the 1980s series "V."
The annual golf tournament, presented by Security Mutual, traditionally benefits four local charities - the Broome County Urban League, Boys and Girls Clubs of Binghamton, Catholic Charities of Broome County and Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. This year its added purpose was to raise awareness for the U.S. military and money for groups that support U.S. troops.
The Black Aces originally referred to the first 12 African American pitchers to win at least 20 games in a single season after the racial integration of Major League Baseball.
The group's leader, famed pitcher Mudcat Grant, encouraged the retired players to engage in charitable activities, such as the Binghamton golf tourney and visits to area hospitals.
Today the group has expanded to include a number of other retired athletes, both white and black, who have been inspired by Mr. Grant to accompany him on his goodwill tours.