Monday, March 28, 2016

Good Things Begin In Brooklyn

I was chatting with my Uncle Frank recently, and he told me an interesting story about the highly-touted Red Sox prospect Andrew Benintendi.

Benintendi went to the University of Arkansas and won the 2015 Golden Spikes Award as the NCAA's best player. The Sox made him their first round pick and seventh overall last year. He did not disappoint in his first year, splitting time between Lowell and Greenville, batting .313 with 11 home runs. He will probably begin this season at Portland in AA, and could be on the fast track to Fenway by next season. Benintendi is the number four ranked player in the Red Sox system.

My uncle has a similar love for the game of baseball that I do, except his is for the New York Yankees. (no worries, as we always got on well through the years.) And he is also cousins with the late, great sportswriter Phil Pepe, who recently passed unexpectedly a few months ago.

He told me that Benintendi, who is originally from Cincinnati, has a grandfather who was born in Brooklyn. He was a doctor during World War II, and after the war concluded he relocated to Ohio, where he started a family and had a successful practice. Dr. Benintendi is 83 years old and still living, retired in Ohio.

My uncle saw the name Benintendi and looked into it, as he knew a family that lived on his block in Brooklyn with that name, and he tracked down the Benintendi family in Ohio and discovered it was the same family he grew up with many years ago.

My uncle is also related to Dave Pepe, who was a 31st round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2014 draft. Dave was born in West Caldwell, NJ and played for Bluefield in the Appalachian League last season.

My uncle tells me that both players' grandfathers knew each other in Brooklyn as they grew up on the same block, and their grandsons may one day play against each other in the big leagues.

Good luck to both players. As Ed Norton once said on "The Honeymooners" when asked where he lived, "The garden spot of the world, Brooklyn, USA." God bless the borough I was born and raised in, and always love when a nice story like this pops up.

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