By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
The summer baseball schedule concluded Sunday at the Miracle League of Grand Island and Western New York with the fourth annual Firefighter Day at the ballpark.
Miracle League President R.J. Wynne said there are "more kids than ever playing baseball" in the Miracle League this year. He estimated over 150 played in its open division and its house league this summer.
Wynne said the fourth annual Firefighter Day festivities included three ballgames, with firefighters from the Grand Island Fire Co. helping the Miracle Leaguers at the plate, in the field and on the base paths. The GIFC also had two trucks at the ballpark, including its ladder truck. All six summer season teams were in action Sunday: The Pirates, sponsored by The Northstar Companies; the Marlins, sponsored by Lakeside Quarterhorses: the Rays, sponsored by Pinto Heavy Equipment Contractors; the Yankees, sponsored by Richardson Auto Repair; the Red Sox, sponsored by Grand Island Optical; and the Blue Jays, sponsored by Wynne & Wynne CPAs.
"It's one of their favorite events," Wynne said of Firefighters Day. In addition to the regular games - where everybody, hits, everybody fields, everybody scores and everybody wins - everybody gets soaked. The games culminate with firefighters connecting a fire hose and dousing players and spectators on the diamond with water.
"I think the first annual firefighters event just literally was on a hot, sunny day like today," Wynne said of the tradition to spray the hose. "And the kids and the fans just loved it."
Before the opening pitch, Wynne accepted a donation from the David W. Kinney Memorial Fund. Sandra and David L. Kinney present a check for $500 in memory of their son, who died 15 months ago. The Kinneys chose to remember their son by making the Miracle League one of six beneficiaries of the charity this year "because of his activities with youth," David L. Kinney said during a pre-game presentation.
"This is to help children that couldn't otherwise play," he said of the donation, which came from money raised at a golf tournament fundraiser.
David L. Kinney said this year the charity will put together a bigger tournament than the inaugural event.
Sandra and David were joined at the presentation by their grandson Conner Kinney, a Miracle Leaguer who plays for the Pirates.
Sunday's celebrity buddy games concluded the summer ball schedule. It was Picture Day at the park as well.
"We'll have games in September, dates and times to be determined," Wynne said.