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Harrison Grad Benedetto Now a Player/Owner

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Billy Benedetto was hoping to one day return to the baseball field and do what he has always enjoyed doing, playing baseball. The former Harrison standout overcame a torn labrum in 2001, and was back on the mound last year, playing for the Peekskill Hawks in the Westchester-Putnam Men’s Senior Baseball League. The 38-year-old Benedetto was looking forward to the 2012 season when an opportunity presented itself and he could not pass it up. He and Nehpty Cruz, a player/coach, set out to keep a former team alive. In three weeks, Benedetto and Cruz accomplished their goal and the Westchester Yankees were born. Benedetto, who helped pitch and hit Harrison to the 1992 Section 1 Class B baseball title, is the team owner and Cruz is the manager. The team is 6-2 and in second place in the Hutchinson River Men’s Baseball League. The Yankees will play at Salesian High School on Sunday at 9 a.m. “Three weeks before the season I got word that the NY Hawks were going to fold,” Benedetto said. “Nephty and I felt it was a great opportunity to make a move to create one of the most elite baseball teams in the area.” The duo had to work fast, starting with a sponsor. Once Benedetto landed a sponsor, Fitness and Recovery (Tuckahoe), he and Cruz began recruiting players. Benedetto and Cruz turned to former men’s league teammates and family members, as well as Benedetto’s former Westchester Community College teammate -- Bobby Henshaw. Chris Orlando, at 21, is the youngster among the graybeards. “Bobby led in all power-hitting stats and was a stand out at Iona in 1995 and ‘96, and he is batting eighth for us,” said Benedetto, with a laugh. Benedetto is enjoying himself, especially with the team playing well, and is already planning for the future. “This is something that I have always wanted to do, own and build my own team,” said Benedetto, who grew up in Silver Lake and now lives with his family in Putnam Valley. “Hopefully, I can start recruiting some young college guys and continue building a great organization.”

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