While pennant races are heating up in major-league parks around the country, action on the diamond in Brookhaven this weekend might have even more meaning.
The Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team squared off against the Suffolk Lawmen in a charity softball game Saturday at the Moriches Athletic Complex, showcasing both skill and perseverance while raising awareness for those injured fighting overseas. They will be in action again Sunday at noon.
The WWAST is a stand-alone nonprofit organization comprised of veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that tours the country and takes on able-bodied softball teams. Their opponent Saturday was a travel team comprised of police and corrections officers from Long Island.
“We travel almost every weekend with this team and it’s nice to come back home and see the community get together and support a great cause,” said Wounded Warriors second baseman Matias Ferreira, who grew up in Atlanta but lives in Wantagh. Ferreira, who served in the Marine Corps, has full prosthetics below both knees after suffering injuries from an Improvised Explosive Device in Afghanistan.
His teammate and fellow double-amputee, Josh Wege, might have been Saturday’s defensive standout after making a series of running catches in leftfield.
“We started in March of 2011, and honestly, this team was just supposed to be an ambulatory softball camp,” said Wege, who was co-MVP of the Major League Baseball celebrity softball game in 2013. “What happened was much greater than we could’ve imagined.
“We found the best way to continue our service,” the Wisconsin product and former Marine added. “They call the military ‘the service’ for a reason. You’re there to put others before yourself and we’re here to continue that, to lead by example and be role models.”
“To have the privilege and the honor to play against these guys, words can’t explain it,” said Lenny Glover, a Suffolk County police officer who plays for the Lawmen, a 22-3 winner of the game. “One of the greatest things we can do is honor our veterans.” Glover added that the Suffolk County Corrections Union made a $500 donation to the WWAST.
“These guys are truly heroes as well,” Ferreira said of The Lawmen. “These guys put their lives on the line everyday to keep us safe.”
“We got schooled today by the Suffolk PD, but we don’t quit. We bounce back,” Wege said of his teammates. “These guys are the epitome of resilience.”