GMC all-star games raise funds for young baseball fan

Michael receives a gift bag containing a bat, balls, baseball cards and a book from Coach Dan Poulsen at the GMC double-header. Credit: Mike Grzankowski

Michael Grzankowski, a 4-year-old from Laurence Harbor, is currently recovering from his third open-heart surgery in his short lifetime.

And also what should be reported during his short lifetime is Michael has emerged into a baseball fanatic.

He was recently discharged from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia just in time for him to attend the Greater Middlesex Conference Baseball Coaches Association 2018 Upperclassmen Showcase and 28th Frank Gavigan Senior All-Star Game.

The all-star doubleheader, which featured the top scholastic players in Middlesex County, was played on June 16 at North Brunswick Community Park.

The National team defeated the American team in the Upperclassmen Showcase, 9-3. Christian Biolsi of Edison High School led the National team when he collected two hits, including  a home run.

Seb Mueller from Saint Joseph Regional High School in Metuchen and Jarrett May of Middlesex High School each recorded an RBI single to contribute to the National victory.

Rob Nunez of Woodbridge High School threw two scoreless innings and his National teammate, Adam Boucher of Saint Joseph, pitched one scoreless inning in the victory.

In the second game of the day, the North defeated the South, 8-3, in the 28th annual Frank Gavigan Senior All-Star Game.

Mike Medvetz of Woodbridge hit an RBI single and Kyle Subers of Saint Joseph threw two scoreless innings to guide the North to the victory.

While the event was free to the public, donations were collected during the games for the Grzankowski family to help them pay off medical expenses.

“It was a very nice and generous thing for people to want to do that,” said Mike Grzankowski Sr. “Just the support alone from the people was very uplifting at the field that day. People we didn’t even know coming up to him and talking to him, telling him how amazing he looks and that he is very strong and happy-looking kid. It’s amazing anyone would do something like that for a 4-year-old.”

Young Grzankowski was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. It is a severe cardiac defect that needs three open-heart surgeries to repair. Michael had the first surgery only six days after his birth and the second procedure was performed six months later. The third operation was done recently on May 31.

Meanwhile, Michael has enjoyed his position as a member of the South Amboy Middle High School baseball team.

South Amboy High’s baseball program had a jersey made for him to wear with the No. 1 stitched onto the back and a cap signed by the entire team. Michael even wore the school’s team gear into pre-admission testing before his surgery.

Prior to his third surgery, Grzankowski made sure he wore both the jersey and cap to his pre-admission testing at the hospital in Philadelphia, refusing to remove the cap for blood work, and an electrocardiogram, as well as other required testing.

“Before surgery, he went for pre-admissions and had to wear his South Amboy hat the whole time during the pre-admission because his boys gave it to him,” said his father. “After, he wanted to play baseball three days after the surgery, which to us and the hospital, was just crazy. At one point, the team was having a dinner and FaceTimed Michael to see how he was doing and feeling. He was smiling the whole time they were on FaceTime and he let the nurses know he just talked to the boys.”

Grzankowski became involved with the team when his parents took him out to a South Amboy High game to see a family friend, Nick Charmello.

Charmello, who is an infielder and a pitcher, introduced him to the team and they immediately made him one of their own.

“We really didn’t have much to do with the team taking him on as a member; he did most of this on his own,” Mike Grzankowski Sr. said. “My wife is friends with the Charmello family and we brought him to see Nick play. He watched and then wanted to throw the ball just like them. Then when they were back up to bat, he would watch. Since they won that day, he has been their good luck charm.”

Though a total number of donations have been not yet calculated, the Grzankowski family appreciated every cent.

“We don’t know at this time how much was received, but even a dollar is greatly appreciated,” Mike Grzankowski Sr. said. “The showing of support was really amazing, more than any dollar amount.”

Michael not only was able to make it out to the GMC all-star games, he was even invited to and was able to to throw out the first pitch.

“Michael thought it was the greatest thing,” Mike Grzankowski Sr. said. “[He] gave everyone knuckles and then walked off the field smiling. He asked his mother, ‘Did you see me throw, Mommy?'”

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