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North Babylon man swings at 7,000 pitches for charity

Mike Filippone tries to set a new world

Mike Filippone tries to set a new world record for marathon batting practice at Phelps Lane Park. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

On Saturday, Mike Filippone swung at the first pitch at 11 a.m.

He swung at his last pitch at 12:30 a.m.

In between, he swung at almost 7,000 pitches.

Even after those 13 1/2 hours, he hadn't reached his goal - 24 hours, for a Guinness World Record for longest batting marathon. But he did fulfill his quest to raise funds for Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park.

Filippone, 49, who is president of the North Babylon Youth League and a father of four, swung at pitches from anyone willing to pay $20 for a bucket of 25 baseballs.

But as the hours passed and the sun bore down on Phelps Lane Park in North Babylon, he began to have second thoughts. "Every hour I would take a five-minute break and I would just think to myself, 'What was I thinking?' " he said Sunday.

According to Andrew Manzo, vice president of the league and co-coach of their sons' Little League team, "Mike swung at pitches from more than 100 different pitchers, and by the end of the day he was physically exhausted. His hands were all cut up," despite his batting gloves.

Emergency medical technicians, most from the North Babylon Fire District, checked his vital signs every hour. "After 13 hours, the paramedics recommended that he stop," Manzo said.

"I was mangled, my back was hurting and my hands were shot," said Filippone. "I hit one ball that hit my foot and split the nail of my big toe." So he had to remove his shoes and, after that, "hit in just my socks."

For his batting efforts, Filippone raised more than $4,000 for the hospital. He said the league prides itself "in our ability to give back to the community and help others." Among those efforts is a "challenger program" that gives children with disabilities the opportunity to play baseball, "with our students as coaches," he said.

Manzo said Filippone "has been involved with baseball his entire life, and wanted to instill a sense of giving back in his players."

Among those pitching to Filippone was Danielle Henderson, the Commack native who was the pitcher for the 2000 Olympic gold medalist U.S. Softball team.

"Danielle has been great," Filippone said. "She came down about two months ago to talk to our players about her experience and now came to help out our fundraiser."

Sunday, he remained humble about his endeavor.

"I have four happy and healthy children and wanted to help those who aren't as lucky," he said. "Sometimes I see people arguing over a questionable call during a game - which I'm also guilty of - and then I think about the children at Schneider Children's Hospital.

"Sometimes we just don't know how good we have it."

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