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Westwood Baseball Player, 15, Changes Game For Troops

Westwood High School freshman Billy Cook signed his 7,000th baseball with his team.
Westwood High School freshman Billy Cook signed his 7,000th baseball with his team. Photo Credit: Phylisse Cook
Billy Cook meets a soldier at a signing event in Connecticut on Saturday.
Billy Cook meets a soldier at a signing event in Connecticut on Saturday. Photo Credit: Phylisse Cook
Westwood's baseball team supports "Billy's Baseballs."
Westwood's baseball team supports "Billy's Baseballs." Photo Credit: Phylisse Cook
The Westwood High School baseball team joins freshman Billy Cook in signing his 7,000th ball.
The Westwood High School baseball team joins freshman Billy Cook in signing his 7,000th ball. Photo Credit: Phylisse Cook

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. — The Westwood High School baseball team could have a new tradition on its hands — at least for another few years.

After neatly packaging their uniforms for next season’s players, the Cardinals joined freshman Billy Cook, 15, in signing his 7,000th baseball — donated by Head Coach Kris Izzo — for troops overseas.

Monday's signing served as the Cardinals' final minutes together this season.

“It was a really cool moment,” Cook said. “This was my first year playing high school baseball so for me it was almost an honor.”

Cook started writing notes of encouragement on baseballs for troops as his Bar Mitzvah project in 2013.

The athlete reached his goal of signing 100 balls on Washington Township Day in November of that year.

Though skipping rocks has long been a time-honored tradition for soldiers — Billy's Baseballs, now a non-profit organization , has been a complete game-changer, the athlete said.

“The notes on the balls are a bonus to the actual item,” said Cook, the team's first baseman and freshman lefty pitcher. “It gives [soldiers] something to do while they’re serving the country.”

“The feedback I get from soldiers — just them telling me how grateful they are for a baseball to throw around a baseball — is the greatest thing I can receive from doing this project,” he said.

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