BATBOY & Doc Gooden Deliver H.E.A.T. For Veterans

 Written by Steve Vaccaro

“PTSD. It’s not the person refusing to let go of the past, but the past refusing to let go of the person.. When we feel weak, we drop our heads on the shoulders of others” (Anonymous)

  When great people get together, great things happen. That’s exactly what happened recently at the Silverthorn Country Club in Spring Hill, Florida, just outside of Tampa, when the Off-Broadway Play BATBOY came to Hernando County.

The BATBOY production took its roadshow outside of New York for the very first time and performed in front of another SOLD OUT audience. However, this performance was specifically for a Non-Profit Agency called H.E.A.T (Honoring-Empowering-Assisting-Training) which supports Veterans and first responders that have served our country.  With the leadership of Ken Fagen and Gus Guadagnino, this amazing organization has served its community struggling with PTSD of approximately 30,000 veterans/first responders for over 25 years. 100 % of ALL the proceeds from this edition of BATBOY featuring Ray Negron and Tampa native/Baseball legend Dwight “Doc” Gooden went directly to H.E A.T.

“ Honestly, we had many offers to showcase BATBOY in venues outside of New York. However, it was my love for our country and the outstanding work that this organization has been doing for our war heroes for many years that made our decision extremely easy of where to perform our show outside of the tri-state area for the first time,” Ray Negron proudly stated as he reflected tearfully on the emotionally-charged evening.

Negron, went on to say, “ as I looked into the audience during our show to see our brave men and women enjoying a night of entertainment with their loved ones, I myself became taken back with the incredible love that filled the air.”

This was a night that brought back baseball memories of the New York Yankees from the 70’s to Dwight Gooden’s No-hitter in 1996.

Just like all the other BATBOY show’s, this edition featured great musical and theatrical talent by its dedicated cast. Making his BATBOY debut was singer/songwriter Alex Martin, who played a character named Derek, tantalized the crowd with his strong vocals and smooth guitar riffs throughout the entire performance. Actor Luis Castillo, who played Negron’s cousin Edwin was powerful .

Aris Sakellaridis who played dual roles and offered comic relief as the evil Mr. Wilson and the cake-sitting Sparky Lyle reminded us all of the locker room shenanigans that the Bronx Bombers demonstrated . Shawn Drouin, GiGi Cormio, Steve Vaccaro, Theresa Farrell. Yoser Pacheco Martinez, Nick Singh and Ron Valure all gave outstanding efforts  as they portrayed different characters of Negron’s life and the Yankee World Championship teams of the 70’s. Cormio, who has played Diana Munson for every BATBOY show, shared her thoughts immediately after this performance. “

Seeing the room filled with great people who have protected our freedom and thinking about the passing of Thurman Munson almost 40 years ago(August 2, 1979), brought a sense of sadness but great pride in the joy that this play brings to people. You can’t help but notice during the show, how much raw emotion is shared between the audience and the entire cast. It’s a feeling of unity that is so very hard to describe.”

As the video on the big screen showed Derek Jeter catching the final out of Dwight Gooden’s No-hitter against the Seattle Mariners, simultaneously Alex Martin catches a ball on stage mirroring the actual footage.  He then immediately runs into the audience handing the baseball that he just fictitiously caught to New York Baseball Legend “Doc” Gooden. To the delightful surprise of the crowd, Gooden then joined Negron on stage for a very candid question and answer session.

This was a jubilant  moment that captivated everyone that was in the room. As Negron and Gooden relived some of their shared experiences together, Gooden became seemingly overcome with emotion at one point. “ Tonight is a very special night.

I was supposed to be in NY, however, I needed to be here in my hometown that is serving our heroes that allowed me to play the game of baseball. I have family and friends  that are here tonight and who have always been by my side and quite frankly, I look up to them, “ Gooden shared. He then became extremely tearful as he needed to pause for a few seconds.

He then revisited his 1996 no-hitter and shared with the audience that his father had been suddenly hospitalized  and had successful open-heart surgery the following day . Gooden then openly reminisced about his mother.  “My mom was everything to me. I miss her so very much She was my rock. She gave me the strength to live my baseball dreams.”

It was at that very instant when Dwight was delivering his heartfelt pitch with H.E.A.T., that the capacity crowd all stood up in unison with a rousing ovation. Clearly, there was not a dry eye in the house. To see war heroes and a New York Baseball legend share this sentimental journey was simply stunning.

This was another BATBOY moment that has absolutely nothing to do with baseball. A moment that will be remembered in the hearts of all that were there.  

BATBOY will continue its 2019 tour. There will be more opportunities to experience the love that this production offers., including a very special tribute to Thurman Munson and his family on August 1, 2019 in the Bronx at Hostos Community College. Ticket Information will be announced soon. For further BATBOY information, please contact  (516) 476-6271 and/or visit Batboy: A Yankee Miracle Facebook page. If you would like more information regarding Veterans H.E.A.T Factory, please contact them at www.veteransHEATfactory.com and/or (352) 251-7015.

 

 

 

 

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