North Babylon Man Bats for World Record, Friend Killed in Crash

Mike Filippone, of North Babylon, will make his third attempt at a Guinness World Record on Saturday. (Photo: Handout)
Mike Filippone, of North Babylon, will make his third attempt at a Guinness World Record on Saturday. (Photo: Handout)

A North Babylon man will be looking to make the record books Saturday during an event to raise money for a memorial fund dedicated to a beloved friend who was killed by a drunk driver two years ago.

Mike Filippone won’t be chasing just any record either—he’s pursuing a Guinness World Record that he helped create.

Three years ago, Filippone was driving around in his truck when the idea dawned on him. So that year, he recommended the batting marathon record to Guinness and then headed to the diamond for his first shot at grabbing the record.

Filippon couldn’t complete the 24-hour marathon and then missed out on the record again last year by only five hours. But now he’s ready to dig into the batter’s box again and he’s confident this year will be different.

“I really feel like I have a good chance,” he said when reached by phone Friday.

Filippone, a 52-year-old father of four, will sprint onto the diamond with a heavy heart. He selected Father’s Day weekend so he could pay tribute to his own father who passed away, as well as Dan Gambardella, his friend and fellow baseball coach killed by a drunk driver in April 2011.

“It’s going to be hard day,” he said. “But you know what? It has a special meaning.”

Gambardella’s widow, Linda, who has dedicated her life to helping struggling families in the community, established the Dan Gambardella Memorial Fund after his death.

And she’s even played a part in Saturday’s batting marathon, which is expected to draw hundreds of local residents prepared to cheer Filippone on during his quest to reach Guinness World Record fame—and at the same time, raise thousands of dollars in his friend’s name.

Linda is the one who suggested that a personal trainer at a kickboxing gym in Copiague train Filippone to improve his endurance. Since then, Filippone has been training three days a week. He pointed to his newfound exercise routine as the reason why he’s so confident going into this year’s baseball-smashing marathon.

“The expectations are higher,” he said, adding that the record-breaking challenge has “really taken over my life.”

Sure, he wants to finally claim the record, but he’s not overly concerned about the outcome. Whether or not Filippone puts his name in the record books or not, he just hopes North Babylon residents will come out in droves to contribute to the Dan Gambardella Memorial Fund.

“He was the nicest guy you’d ever want to know,” he said of Gambardella.

The event starts at 8 a.m. at Phelps Lane Park in North Babylon.