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Commemorating a loved one at Citizens Bank Park

A Whitman youngster honored his slain sibling through participation in the Phillies Home Run Derby.

By Joseph Myers
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Aug. 16, 2012

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Domenic DeMarco bore his Phillies pride Sunday as he prepared to smack long balls. Baseball, a passion he shared with his brother, Anthony DeMarco Jr., could become the boy's vocation.

Photo by Rob Torney

Scottish poet Robert Burns should have included “children” when he penned the immortal line “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

For if life had decided to treat Domenic DeMarco fairly, the 10-year-old would have received cheers from his brother, Anthony DeMarco Jr., at Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way, Sunday. Domenic instead dedicated his involvement in the 42nd Phillies Home Run Derby to his lone sibling, continuing to honor his memory nearly two years after his shooting-related death.

“Everything about him inspires me,” the resident of Third and Ritner streets said before leading off the 9- and 10-year-old boys’ division of the Phillies’ longest-running program. “We especially bonded through basketball and baseball.”

Those sports and soccer occupy Domenic at the Southeast Youth Athletic Association, Seventh and Bigler streets, where he has spent six years improving his athletic acumen as a Blue Jay. The last 22 months, however, also had have him enlisting courts and fields as therapeutic aids, as he and his parents valiantly try to live their lives while contemplating the tragic end to their relative’s existence.

“Oct. 20, 2010 was the day of the incident,” Anthony DeMarco Sr. said. “The day had a strange feeling to it anyway, but little did we know how it would end.”

The patriarch granted his son, who hours before had received his driver’s license, permission to use the family car so he could celebrate his accomplishment with friends. At 11:29 p.m., the 20-year-old, a promising apprentice who like his father seemed destined for a carpentry career, suffered gunshot wounds to his stomach and back on the 200 block of Jackson Street. Doctors at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital pronounced him dead just after midnight.

“We had just finished watching the game,” Anthony DeMarco Sr. said of catching Game Four of the National League Championship Series between the Phillies and the San Francisco Giants. “Hearing the news of the shooting, we just became so shocked.”

Domenic, on the verge of sleep before the terrible notice came, remained positive in pondering the future for his brother, also a SEYAA product.

“I said ‘Don’t worry, Mom and Dad,’” the soon-to-be fifth-grader at Our Lady of Hope School, formerly Epiphany of Our Lord School, 1248 Jackson St., said.

“You also told us ‘Nin will be OK’ and ‘He’s going to come home,’” Anthony DeMarco Sr. added as his surviving offspring acknowledged his nickname for his departed loved one. “It was too late though.”

His clan gained some comfort Nov. 12, ’10, and May 8, ’11, with the arrests of Kevin Williams and Dawud Abdul-Hakim, respectively, who both have been charged with murder, robbery, conspiracy and related charges, according to court records. The two will have a motions hearing Sept. 24 followed by a scheduled Oct. 1 trial.

“Anthony is on my mind all the time,” Domenic, wearing a pin bearing his brother’s image, said. “I feel I can win this for him.”

The confident child became obsessed with baseball three years ago, developing an affinity for pitching. His batting skills, however, landed him time at the eight-year-old park. Fending off 15 foes each time, Domenic duplicated his ’10 win at SEYAA’s home run derby, one of 100 local competitions, April 17, and claimed the regional crown in Sharon Hill July 29 to become the only area representative in his age group.

“It felt great to win, and I know Anthony would have been proud,” he said of overcoming the sting of dropping the ’10 regional.

In anticipation of the main event, Domenic worked on his compact swing in the George Sharswood School yard, 2300 S. Second St., and Bellmawr, N.J.’s Sportz Central.

“I didn’t try to do anything that different,” Domenic, one of 22,000 children whom the Phillies assist annually, said. “Hitting is so much fun to me.”

 

Though he enjoyed opening July’s regional affair, Domenic would have preferred to be the pursuer and not the pursued Sunday.

“That’s OK,” his father said of his going first. “You’ll be the pacesetter.”

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