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Veterans honored at start of baseball season

Daily Item - 5/7/2017

May 07--SUNBURY -- Not even the threat of rain could keep 260 Sunbury Youth League baseball players, their parents, and town officials from attending a gala celebration at Merle Phillips Field, marking the official start of the season

Opening day of the season, whether it's big league or amateur youth league is a cause for celebration, said organizer Jo Linn Barner, Saturday morning. "And I wanted to do something special for this community."

Barner's idea was to honor Sunbury fire fighters, police and veterans.

Tossing out the first pitch was Roy Lenig, 90, of Selinsgrove, a World War II vet, who served in Italy in 1945. "I graduated from Selinsgrove High School and went right into the service," he said. "I was 18. After serving my time, I came back and have been here ever since. This is a wonderful honor."

John Yost, 92, of Northumberland, another Second World War veteran was also honored by the crowd.

Barner said, "there is so much negativity sometimes about the police, that I wanted to do something special, to show them that we appreciate every day what they do."

She started work "on this special day about three months ago,"she said. "I wanted to have as many World War II vets here as we could find. The idea was to give them a medal of appreciation."

On hand to receive applause from an appreciative crowd of more than 500 adults were police officers Steve Bennick, Brad Hare, Bard Slack, Steve Mazzeo and Vernon Petty along with the veterans and fire and rescue officials.

The Shikellamy Junior ROTC presented the nation's colors and the middle school choir sang the national anthem.

Hundreds of parents lined the fences as the T-ball, 4-6 year olds, the minor league (teens), and tweeners, the just under high school team age, stood on the foul lines applauding their heroes.

Among the crowd was Pa. House Rep. Kurt Masser, Elysburg, R-107. Masser recalled his children playing in the youth league. "I remember my kid hitting a home run,"he said. "It was a thrill. And today, I just hope the rain holds off."

It did. And just after Lenig under-hand tossed the first pitch of the season, the skies opened up, rain poured down and the 2017 season was underway.

Send comments to rdandes@dailyitem.com. Follow Dandes on Twitter @rdandes.

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(c)2017 The Daily Item (Sunbury, Pa.)

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