Silvestri’s Iconic Softball Star Passes Away at 69

By | August 20, 2023

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death – Obituary News : Members of Staten Island’s renowned softball team, Silvestri’s Service Station, are grieving the loss of one of their own. Dennis E. Jackson, a vital member of the team, passed away on August 16, 2023, in Bluffton, South Carolina, where he had been residing since leaving the Island. He was 69 years old.

Jackson, a left-handed hitter, played a crucial role on the powerhouse Silvestri’s team that clinched the first-ever ASA Modified National championship title in 1975. Known for his skills as an outfielder and cleanup hitter, Jackson was inducted into the Staten Island Sports Hall of Fame two years ago.

The 1975 Silvestri’s Service Station squad, which won the championship, consisted of players such as Ralph Miscione, George McLendon, John Currado, Vin Pozniac, and John Marsh. Other members of the team included Frank Cecero, Greg Hansen, Stan Zazula, Paul Wicinski, and coaches Jim ‘Scotti’ Silvestri and Ben Zasa, as well as Sal Silvestri. Over the years, the team participated in 10 National tournaments, from 1975 to 1986, achieving an unprecedented run of dominance with three championships, three runner-up finishes, one third-place finish, one fourth-place finish, and one fifth-place finish.

Sadly, Jackson is the third player from the 1975 team to pass away, following the deaths of Pozniac and Miscione. Frank Cecero fondly remembers Jackson’s dedication and talent on the field, stating, “He played hard every time he took the field. He was a tremendous hitter, focusing on hitting line drives, and he hit plenty of them. I batted third and he batted fourth, so every time I got on base in front of him, I had to watch out.”

Interestingly, Jackson was a last-minute addition to the 1975 team. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the team was left with only nine players for their trip to Port Yuron in Michigan. They enlisted the help of the Silvestri brothers, who promised to find another player and fly him out to join the team. It wasn’t until late in the night, when the team had already settled in at a motel, that they saw a cab pull up. Surprisingly, the cab driver turned out to be Jackson himself, who had driven all the way from the airport after a long day. Impressed by his performance in the series, the team asked Jackson to continue playing with them.

Born on August 12, 1954, in Staten Island to Edward and Veronica Jackson, Dennis was the sibling of Michael, Barbara, and the late Wendy. He attended Tottenville High School, where he played a crucial role in the 1973 PSAL city championship baseball team. He was also drafted by the New York Mets organization.

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According to his son, Sean, Jackson was renowned for his competitive spirit and continued to dominate the softball community from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s. Even in his final days, he remained an avid sports enthusiast, supporting the New York Mets and New York Giants. He enjoyed playing golf on Sundays and spent 35 years working for the Staten Island Railway. Even after retiring, he umpired in various softball leagues to stay involved in the sport. After relocating to Bluffton, South Carolina, he continued to showcase his athletic abilities by achieving his first 300 game in bowling and recording three hole-in-ones on the golf course. He also played for the Sun City recreational and travel-based softball teams, winning more championships during this time.

Jackson’s son describes him as someone who excelled in everything he pursued. He was a true competitor. Dennis is survived by his wife, Pattie, his sons Sean and Ryan (Marcia Jackson), his step-children Keith (ToniAnne) and Christine (Chris), as well as his three grandsons, JR, Anthony, and Dominick.

The family will receive friends on August 22, 2023, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Sauls Funeral Home in Bluffton, South Carolina. A prayer service will be held at 7 p.m. On August 23, 2023, a Funeral Mass will take place at 10:30 a.m. at Saint Gregory the Great Catholic Church..