Pitch perfect

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Helen Stemple strategizes with Bud Harrelson before she throws the ceremonial pitch to him.
Helen Stemple strategizes with Bud Harrelson before she throws the ceremonial pitch to him.

Helen Stemple, a 103-year-old assisted living resident of Gurwin Jewish – Fay J. Lindner Residences, Commack, Long Island, New York, recently threw out the ceremonial pitch at Bethpage Park when she and fellow residents attended a Long Island Ducks game for Jewish Heritage Night, a family event co-sponsored by Gurwin Jewish.

Those in attendance said the great-grandmother was a perfect example of grace under pressure, calmly striding onto the field and lobbing a perfect pitch into the glove of former Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson, amid cheers of fans and friends. The former Brooklyn Dodgers fan credited her on-the-mark toss to pregame pitching practice on the grounds of Gurwin's campus.

When asked how she felt after the pitch, Stemple said it was a night she will remember fondly.  “I enjoyed throwing the pitch to Mr. Harrelson and then watching the game with my friends,” she said. “It was just wonderful!”

Another Gurwin resident, Golda Thaw, was celebrating her 100th birthday and was honored with scoreboard birthday wishes as well as birthday hugs and high-fives from team mascot Quackerjack, who paid a visit to the residents in attendance.

“That was something else,” she said.

“Baseball is one of America's favorite pastimes, and it resonates with people of all ages,” said Staci Rosenberg-Simons, marketing director at Gurwin Jewish – Fay J. Lindner Residences. “Residents of our assisted living community don't give up these kinds of things once they move in; they gain the opportunity to participate in all kinds of activities and trips with new friends and companions.”

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