Yankee Stadium throws open its door for charity

Yankee Stadium throws open its door for charity

Yankee Stadium throws open its door for charity
NEW YORK -- There's no doubt that June 14 was circled on former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason's calendar.

It was 18 years ago to the day that the New York Rangers won their first -- and only -- Stanley Cup, and Esiason, an avid fan of the Blueshirts, didn't forget. But the date was earmarked for a different reason.

Thursday marked the second annual "Bombers Boomer Broadway Softball Classic," a charity event held at Yankee Stadium aimed at raising money for the Boomer Esiason Foundation. The charity, which aims to raise both awareness and money for finding a cure to cystic fibrosis, was founded by Esiason after his son Gunnar was diagnosed with the disease, which affects both the lungs and digestive system, in 1993, when he was just 2 years old.

Esiason became a household name after he spent 14 years in the NFL and made four Pro Bowl appearances. The former quarterback said that recognition from his time on the gridiron and behind the microphone -- Esiason now co-hosts WFAN's "Boomer and Carton in the Morning" and is an analyst on CBS' "NFL Today" -- has helped bring his foundation into the limelight.

In line with 2011, Thursday's event included two softball games, the first between two teams of current Broadway stars and celebrities. The second pitted the WFAN All-Stars and TV personalities against New York Yankees alumni.

"It's awesome," Homer Bush said. "It's for a great cause. It's an awesome facility. We've got some of the old band back together, some players you've played with or against, so it's a neat event."

Bush, who was a member of the Yankees' 1998 World Series team, played alongside former Yankees Ron Blomberg, Brian Doyle, John Flaherty, Charlie Hayes, Lee Mazzilli and Mickey Rivers. General manager Brian Cashman also played a few innings.

Also on hand were Fox 5 "Good Day New York" hosts Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto, as well as singer Joe Jonas and Broadway star Nick Jonas. In the first game of the doubleheader, the Broadway Bombers beat the Times Square Slammers 10-4.

"We were invited to come spend a nice afternoon against his club and have a little fun, and more importantly, raise some money," Flaherty said. "Any time you get asked to do something like that you jump at the opportunity."

Esiason was thrilled at the support the event received, but after losing to the Yankees' alumni squad, 14-13, in 2011, he jokingly admitted that revenge was definitely on his team's mind.

It showed as Esiason's squad topped the Yankees' alumni 12-4.

"The event is awesome," Esiason said. "Even though I'm a Mets fan, it is Yankee Stadium, and we all know what goes on in Yankee Stadium: winning.

"But really, it's so cool to be able to give opportunities to people to come into a stadium where they never thought they would be, and then to have guys like Wally Szczerbiak and John Franco come and support my team and foundation, I'm pretty jacked about that."

Gunnar Esiason is now 21 and a junior at Boston College. He played alongside his father on the diamond Monday afternoon.

"Thirty-five, 40 years ago this would only be a dream. Gunnar is living, breathing proof that you can fight cystic fibrosis and live a good, healthy life," Esiason said. "The fact that he's standing here playing softball in Yankee Stadium is only a testament to who he is and how hard he's fought fighting cystic fibrosis."

Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.