If you want to ensure decent weather for a pitching contest, here’s the secret:  hire meteorologist Chuck Gaidica as your emcee.

Gaidica, who refused to allow clouds to mar the well-attended event, provided color commentary to the contest to decided which World War II vet would toss out the opening pitch on Detroit: Our Greatest Generation Tribute Game at Tiger Stadium on September 16, 2009.

Held September 9 at Warren’s Halmich Park under the watchful eye of Mayor Jim Founts and the Warren police department, the contest pitted twelve men and one woman from four branches of the military, all veterans of World War II, against each other to see who had ‘the stuff’ to throw the first pitch on Wednesday’s game against Kansas City.

Detroit Tiger Hall of Famer Al Kaline did the judging while gently critiquing each player, many of whom play ball regularly as a part of the local Senior Softball Players.  Their skill sets showed, too, as Kaline seemed pretty roundly impressed with the quality of the contestants, one of whom, John Symons, was ninety-four years old.

All came with their ‘a’ game and their pitching arms well-lubricated.  The final roster of contestants included Alfredo Bicego, Sgt., U.S. Army; Doris Fenner, Capt., U.S. Army; Ray De Fiore, Pvt. 1st Class, U.S. Army; Hank Gartner, Cpl. U.S. Army; Doug Hooper, Petty Ofc. 3rd Class, U.S. Marines; George Keller, Lance Cpl. U.S. Marines; Rudy Kramer, Sgt. U.S. Marines; Leon Mannes, Gen. Mate Seaman, U.S. Navy; Harold Sims, Seaman 2nd Class, U.S. Navy; Ed Wayne, Sgt.,  U.S. Air Force; Marvin Wesch, Pvt.,  U.S. Army and Stanley Zavis, Capt., U.S. Air Force.

In the end, of course, there could be only one winner.  A tie was broken by an all-Army ‘pitch-off’ which pitted Sgt. Bicego against Pvt. Marvin Wesch, and though, according to Kaline, “It was close,” in the end the legendary right-fielder had to make a decision, and the nod went the Wesch.

Following the contest, Mr. Kaline graciously agreed to sign numerous autographs and pose for pictures with fans, which is why he remains, to Detroiters, ‘Mr. Tiger’.

As for ‘Mr. Sunshine’ Chuck Gaidica, we are expecting that he will use his influences once again to ensure us perfect late-summer baseball weather on Wednesday’s Tribute Game.




Contact Us