Most people who come home after running a business like a bakery all day probably wouldn't want to take the time to coach kids playing baseball.
Then again, most people aren't Michael Birrittella.
A batting/pitching cage training facility for local baseball and softball teams was put up at Sleepy Hollow High School and was dedicated on Tuesday to Birrittella, who passed away at the age of 85 in August of 2007.
Birrittella was a long-time baseball coach, manager and benefactor in the Tarrytown Dad's Club, the predecessor of the Tarrytown/North Tarrytown (TNT) Baseball/Softball Association. After coming out of the service in 1947, Birrittella ran Birrittella's Bakery until '84.
One of his seven sons, Martin Birrittella, told the large crowd gathered for the dedication that he marveled at how his dad found the energy to do what he did after work hours.
"My dad was a hard worker, he worked at the bakery six days a week," Martin Birrittella said. "Then on the seventh day he had to do the books. It was a miracle that at this time of day, around 5 or 6, that he was able to coach a little-league team but he did it."
The ceremony was truly a family affair, as it should've been since the Birrittella's have been an integral part of the Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow community for generations.
"The community recognizes a person who has given many, many years to the youth of our community," Sleepy Hollow Athletic Director Chuck Scarpulla said. "He loved sports, he loved baseball, he loved Sleepy Hollow, he loved young kids. Matter of fact, somebody told me he pitched more batting practice than anyone in the history of Sleepy Hollow. We tried to figure out it was way over 180,00 pitches left his hand. The family has been a big part of the community, they always give back to the community. It's always been a family that has supported athletics all the way through."
After Scarpulla welcomed the crowd, Danielle Birrittella, one of Michael Birrittella's 18 grandchildren, performed a beautiful rendition of the national anthem.
Scarpulla said right after her performance that "it was as good as anyone you will hear at Yankee Stadium."
After Martin Birrittella spoke, Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett, who was a member of the Dad's Club growing up, spoke and said that the county declared June 22 Michael Birrittella Memorial Day in Westchester.
"After World War II, men and women came here to raise their families and no person was more involved than Michael Birrittella," Plunkett said.
Another son, Myles Birrittella, then spoke and had everyone laughing. Before the ceremony began, he mentioned how wonderful it was to see everyone come together for this event. He also said he was thankful for everyone's help, especially Scarpulla and Iannarelli Construction's Anthony Iannarelli, Vinny Iannarelli and Jose Muchado.
"It's great to see people in the community come together and there are multi-generations here," Myles Birrittella said. "That is the neatest thing about it. You are talking about people who made this community. See this group of people here, all graduated in the 1930s and early 40s before the war, you're talking about the greatest generation."
Another granddaughter, Angela Birrittella singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame", where she invited everyone to sing with her. Then grandsons Mitchell Birrittella Jr., Tyler Birrittella and Myles Birrittella, who is a member of Sleepy Hollow's varsity baseball team, performed the ceremonial first pitch.
"It's very special because I lived with my grandfather and he did a lot for me," Myles Birrittella said. "It's going to be great because now we have a nice batting cage to practice on. It's just great to have the community come out and do something like this for us."
That was followed by the unveiling of the sign, signifying the dedication of the facility and those honors were done by granddaughters Alexis, Annelise, Jayne and Natalie Birrittella.
"It just helps our practice schedule as well," Sleepy Hollow baseball coach Ray Farrell said. "It's difficult sometimes when you have 30 plus kids out here, including both the JV and varsity. Now we can send some kids into the batting cage, they can get some work in hitting off the machine in small groups. It's going to be our warm-up pen during games. It's going to help the program."