1978 World Series winner to provide message for local group
Former New York Yankees reserve infielder Brian Doyle will present a message to baseball fans at the Bisons' game Sunday at Coca Cola field. It is Parkinson's Day at the ballpark.
Doyle was a shining star for the Yankees during the 1978 postseason. Injuries felled the ballplayer, shortening his career. Doyle is now facing a more serious challenge. He has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, but his spirit remains strong. His message for the Parkinson's community in Western New York will be delivered before Sunday's game.
Doyle was a late replacement for the injured Willie Randolph in the 1978 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He batted .438 in the six-game series, collecting seven hits in 16 at bats and driving in two runs. Doyle propelled the Yankees in that hard-fought series. He is now lending strength and encouragement to fellow Parkinson's patients in their battle against the progressive neurological disease.
"It has been amazing speaking with Brian," National Parkinson Foundation of Western New York Executive Director Chris Jamele said. "He has wonderful baseball stories, but he also has such great concern for fellow Parkinson's patients. You can hear it in his voice."
Doyle shared of playing ball in the backfields of small-town Kentucky and then being "in the Yankee dugout with Lou Piniella, Roy White, Thurman Munson" all patting him on the back. He became emotional when telling how, when introduced, he jogged onto the field at a "Legions Game" and Parkinson's fundraiser in June. He wasn't sure his legs would work that day. "Being able to jog onto the field once again meant the world to me," he said.
Connie, Doyle's wife of 41 years, thanked the National Parkinson Foundation for the support they have provided. "We have learned so much from your educational resources ... we received so many tools to help. Our family will be forever grateful," she said.
Also before the game, a there will be ceremony on the field as Consumer's Beverages presents National Parkinson Foundation of Western New York with a check for $20,000. The company raised the funds in April, National Parkinson's Awareness Month, through the sale of blue ribbon cutouts. The effort is an annual program by NPFWNY to promote awareness of Parkinson's in Western New York. Western New York is home to nearly 9,000 Parkinson's patients. Portions of the region lead the nation in the prevalence of Parkinson's diagnoses.
Parkinson's disease is a neurologically degenerative condition for which there is no cure. NPFWNY provides support groups and therapeutic programming for patients and caregivers alike.