Thank you to Tony Abone Jr. for a lifetime of giving back

Published May 20, 2018 at 9:00am

One of Rome’s most storied programs will be celebrating some major milestones the last weekend in June.

It’s also a time to thank Tony Abone Jr. for a lifetime of giving back to our city.

Smith Post has forever been a staple in our hometown. The sound of the bat at RFA’s Billy Vinci Field during the hot summer nights are what Rome, New York is all about.

The talent that has come through the program over the years under Tony Abone Sr. and Jr. is somewhat hard to believe.

I look back and remember the heated Smith/Adrean Post rivalry, with the best players from Utica and Rome getting after it.

So many Division I and professional baseball players were part of the historic rivalry.

How about the Smith vs. Lee Legion games in the 80’s and 90’s that drew crowds five deep down the baselines. Romans vs. Romans and the games were so exciting.

Forty years ago Smith Post won its first New York State championship. The Abone family played such a vital role in developing Rome’s finest baseball talent.

And let’s not forget the wives.

RoseMary and Terry gave up most of their summers for the program. They would be running the concession stands, selling 50/50 tickets and whatever else needed to be done.

They were just flat out amazing.

Now it’s time to say thank you. They are hanging them up to enjoy the summers they never had. Our community thanks this awesome family for some of the greatest Rome baseball memories of all time.

On Friday, June 29 the 1998 state championship team will be reunited at the Back Nine Restaurant. The players, parents and families will attend and share that memorable run. Friends and fans too.

On Saturday, June 30 the fun will continue with a golf tournament at Rome Country Club beginning at 8:30 a.m. Send your reservation to Rob Cronk at rkcronk@yahoo.com. If you want to sponsor a hole or support the program use Rob’s e-mail also.

I am told that Eddie O’Brien and his sidekick Brian Cornish will be there the whole weekend. They did the broadcast of that championship run back in 1998 which our family has on tape.

After the golf tournament join this year’s Smith Post team for a home game vs. Oriskany at DeLutis Field.

Finally after the game, a dinner honoring Coach Tony Abone Jr. will take place at the Rome Polish Home. Tickets are $25 and are available beginning May 24 at Smith Post or the Rome Sports Hall of Fame. Both State Championship teams of 1978 and 1998 will be honored also. Cocktails at 7 p.m., dinner at 7:30, program at 8:15.

I will never forget being a player’s father for that 1998 state championship team. The team bus was escorted into town by our police and fire departments. They were taken to Pinti Field that night where hundreds of Romans cheered them on with Carl Eilenberg at the microphone. It is one of the best sports memories that any dad could ever experience.