Astoria man killed in crash honored at baseball game

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Barrett, who was 21, died on June 15 in a motorcycle accident in Woodside. He had played on the Queens Yankees team in the league.

The game began at Prellar Field in Bellerose with a moment of silence under the perfectly blue sky and bright sun. Barrett's mother, Sheila Boylan, then threw out the first pitch before returning to her seat in the bleachers behind first base.

Barrett worked at Power Sheet Metal in Woodside as a "tin knocker," a sheet metal worker, according to his mother. He belonged to the Sheet Metal Workers Union, Boylan said, but his lifelong passion was baseball.

"He loved baseball and played since he was 3 years old," she said. "In kindergarten, he told the school he wasn't coming back. He was going to be a baseball player."

"Neil was a hardworking guy, very intense," said Kenny Calhoun, the assistant team manager. "He would come early and always want to stay late. Whenever we took a break, he would urge us to get back on the field. He was an excellent teammate, and all-around nice guy."

Boylan was also presented with a plaque commemorating the game by Butch Langford, the league's president.

Barrett had played on the varsity team at St. John's Prep, and later played in several local leagues. He had played with the Queens Yankees for the past two years as shortstop.

"He liked certain positions," Boylan said. "He liked shortstop, second base. He liked to pitch. He did all the positions except first baseman."

"He was a good shortstop," said Lindy Russo, who had known Barrett when he was a child and whose son played on the same team. "He was fast, real fast. Even when he was little he was fast."

"The only position he wanted to play was shortstop," Calhoun said. "Whenever we tried to move him, he insisted that this was his position. He was the best shortstop on the team and he knew it. He did a good job with that."

"We're all just going to miss him," Calhoun added. "We wear his number on our jerseys now as a memorial to him. We already miss him."

"He was going to be in the All-Star game," Boylan said. "I never got to see one of his games here. When you get to a certain age, I guess you don't want your mother watching."

Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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