ESM pitcher comes back from rib removal, throws first pitch at Chiefs game

Dave Appleton (left), Greg Fingar (center) and Bill Cregg (right) pose for a picture after their ceremonial first pitch on Tuesday.

East Syracuse-Minoa senior Greg Fingar lives and breathes baseball, but back in September, taking the field for his senior season seemed highly unlikely.

"I woke up one morning and my arm was purple and huge," Fingar said. "I went to the hospital and they told me that I had a blood clot, right away all the negative thoughts came right into my head."

On September 13th Fingar had surgery to have one of his ribs removed. For the next few weeks, he was in serious pain, unable to go to school or even move his arm at all.

"I was told it was going to be a long shot to play this year..that was really devastating news. It was my senior year..a lot to look forward to, maybe play in college...," Fingar said.

Over time, the pain started to regress, and Fingar started to rehab, his love of baseball motivating him every step of the way.

He was cleared to play before the season started, and took advantage. He
led the Spartans in innings pitched, strikeouts and E.R.A, and was one of the better hitters in their lineup, leading the team in RBIs as well.

One of Fingar's best games came against Marcellus in NBT Bank Stadium during the ALS Baseball Classic. Fingar pitched eight innings, shutting out Marcellus 1-0. His play in that game and his inspirational comeback from losing a rib earned him the inaugural Bill Cregg Courageous Award for the tournament.

Bill Cregg, well known in the Central New York community for his heroic actions the night a Liverpool librarian was murdered in Clay, is also a part of the Umpire's Association of Central New York. Cregg has been one of the several umpires who have worked games of the ALS Strike Out Lou Gehrig's Classic...for free. With the umpires donating their time, the tournament saves about $1200 each year. In its seven years of existence, the tournament has raised more than $70,000 for the ALS Clinic at Upstate Medical Center.

"With what Bill Cregg did, a lot of people talk the talk, well he walked the walk, we wanted to do something to honor him also," Dave Appleton, V.P. of baseball operations of the tournament, says.

So, in a moment of true inspiration, Fingar and Cregg united at NBT Bank Stadium on Tuesday night. Fingar threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Cregg in front of friends, family and fans.

"It means a lot because after the surgery it was a long road to come back, and just to see it be meant a lot," Fingar says.

While several in the stands look up to the professional baseball players that take the field every day at NBT Bank Stadium, on Tuesday night those athletes were joined by two people that everyone in the Central New York community can look up to in Greg Fingar, and, of course, Bill Cregg.