Local Teams Strike Out Autism

Local legend Al Leiter greets the Central Regional Girls Softball team before they faced off against Toms River East in the Strike Out Autism game at Veterans Park in Bayville. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

BERKELEY – In Veterans Park, every field was filled with families, as baseball and softball teams of all ages took their turn at bat. In the middle of all these games was the fundraiser for Strike Out Autism.

It was a gorgeous, warm day. It felt like baseball season, which was good, considering the way the weather has been lately it could just as easily been snowing.

Jerry Frulio, who created the event here, said that Berkeley was just one piece of a larger puzzle – dozens of teams in 12 different locations. Central Regional faced off against Toms River East in the morning. Later, Howell and Lacey would compete.

Central Regional’s softball team pitched to Toms River East in one of the first games. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

Now in its sixth year, Frulio estimated that thousands of students have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the nonprofit. He thanked volunteers, sponsors, and officials at the township and at Central Regional.

The money goes to supplies for special needs classrooms. For example, iPads, art supplies, and smart boards. They also donated $10,000 to the Field of Dreams, a park that will be in Toms River, built with special needs kids in mind.

Most of the action took place at the fields closest to the high school. Elsewhere, there were booths selling crafts and a small petting zoo.

One area of the fields had booths set up for residents and visitors. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

Al Leiter, who graduated from Central in 1984, pitched for the Yankees, and is now a commentator, threw out the first pitch. When he wasn’t being stopped by a fan, he was stopping to watch a game. Frulio, in introducing him to a crowd, noted all the charity work he had done.

After the event, Leiter spoke to reporters about how important it is to give back. It’s not just about giving checks, but about giving your time.

“This is where it started for me,” he said. “Karma is real. Giving back when you can is a must.”