Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Baseball legends bring cheer and autographs to Ideal
Scores of residents and employees gathered in the lobby of the Residence Center at Ideal Wednesday morning for a rare opportunity - meeting a group of big-time sports figures and receiving autographed baseballs. Staff members helped residents dress up in their favorite baseball teams’ T-shirts to greet the players. "I've got two autographed baseballs, one for each of my grandsons," one happy resident commented. "I'm taking one for a friend of mine who's a lifelong Yankees fan," said another. "Oh, yes, he'll sure know who Duke Sims is.” Asked a third resident: "Which one is the actor?"
All four of the retired stars who visited UHS Senior Living at Ideal Aug. 28 work with the Urban League and "The Black Aces" charitable organization, visiting hospitals and nursing homes to cheer up patients and employees alike.
Those visiting last week were: Gina "Chirpie" Casey, formerly of the All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League, depicted in the 1992 film "A League of Their Own"; Duke Sims, a onetime Vestal resident who was a formidable catcher with the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees; Ron Robinson, who was a powerhouse pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers; and former New York Mets pitcher Lance Broadway, now an up-and-coming TV and movie actor.
The Black Aces charity group today includes about 35 retired athletes - male and female, black and white - who come to Greater Binghamton to play in the annual Jim "Mudcat" Grant All-Star Golf Tournament, which benefits the youth programs of the Broome County Urban League. Headed by legendary Major League pitcher Grant, the group is named for the first 12 African American pitchers who posted 20-win seasons in Major League competition.