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Past, current Holy Spirit baseball players gather as alumni game revived

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher ABSECON – Belford Rivera was one of the most enthusiastic players during batting practice on Saturday morning at the Holy Spirit baseball field. And he graduated in … well, let’s just say it was well before cell phones were invented. Rivera was one of many past Spartans players from the last five decades who gathered for the 2014 Holy Spirit Baseball Alumni Game. First-year head coach Steve Normane is the kind of guy who loves the tradition baseball inspires, and said he is trying to get his current players to understand the great tradition of Holy Spirit baseball by reviving the alumni game. By all accounts, Saturday’s version of the event was a rousing success. Rivera, a 1984 Spirit grad who is a senior patrolman with the Hamilton Township Police Department, has two sons, Matt, and eighth-grader, and Jonathan, who is 17 and a catcher on the Cedar Creek High School baseball team. Rivera said what impressed him most was the interest the current Holy Spirit players showed in him, not only in his baseball past but also in the types of things he did after high school. Former Holy Spirit star Fran Casey gets loose in the bullpen prior to Saturday's alumni game. Former Holy Spirit star Fran Casey gets loose in the bullpen prior to Saturday’s alumni game. Anthony Boselli, was hard at work getting the field ready for play along with Dave Di Ianni, Mike’s father. The atmosphere certainly got Jeff Ebert, a member of that state championship team in the early 1980s, fired up during batting practice. The former left fielder eagerly shook hands with old friends, took his cuts in the cage with vigor, and said he was thrilled to be a part of it all. “It’s a great idea. I can’t wait for next year and this day is not even over,” Ebert said during rounds of BP. “I lettered all four years. Ed Burns was our coach at the time. A lot of things have changed. We didn’t have the batting nets, no music, just the pitcher and catcher.” Ebert, who has been working in the casino business for the past 25 years, said he was one of the first people to jump on board. “When A.J. reached out to me on Facebook and told me what they were doing, I said, ‘count me in!’ I’ll be the first one there and the last one to leave,” Ebert said. “A.J. and I grew up together and came up through the ranks of Little League, Babe Ruth and then high school.” “We have a bunch of good guys. And I told them, it’s important, make sure you talk (to the alumni). I like tradition, I like history. We have the old jerseys out,” Normane said. “We can learn a lot (from the alumni). They were all in that spot at one point and now they are all successful in their lives, they have kids, families. Everybody can learn something from these guys and I’m just happy to have them all back out on the field.” DiBuonaventura said it was great to talk to guys who had once been in the same position he is in now, trying to savor his final season of high school baseball. “It’s good to talk to guys who came from the same spot you are in right now. You get to see what they did. It’s a good experience to talk to guys who are coming from the same spot that I am in now,” DeBuonaventura said. “They know exactly how you are feeling during your senior year and they have a lot of good insight from their perspective. You can really put your faith in what they are saying because they’ve been there.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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