Ken happened to leave a few Little Italy Baltimore friends of mine tickets to the May 19 Yankees game vs. the Reds. The three guys went up only for the day. So what are the chances one of them would meet his cousin from Brisbane,Australia in the city, whom he had found on Facebook in 2010?
When Bill Bertazon joined Facebook after prodding from others about how great it was as a social gathering, he was introduced to a page called Bertazzon Worldwide. He noticed the majority of the members were from Treviso, Italy. (His grandfather had dropped a 'z' when he arriving in the U.S.)
"I posted a brief biography explaining dates and names of my ancestry," said Bertazon, "plus the Bertazzon genealogy chart dating to the late 1700's from the providence of Sernaglia Della Battaglia in Treviso. Several Bertazzons wrote back in an attempt to match kinship, but none did."
Then a message came from a Loretta Mengotti from Australia saying that her mother Caterina Maria (nee Bertazzon) was from that same area in Treviso. Turned out they were cousins through Loretta's grandfather and Bill's grandfather. (Also turned out, ironically, that Bertazon's only granddaughter is named Caterine Maria.)
Loretta and Bill formed a kinship in spite of being on two continents. They use Skype and Facebook to stay connected. Gotta love the Internet.
As fate weaves its way into happy endings, Bertazon received this message from Loretta before his scheduled Yankee Stadium visit:
"Hello Bill, When you wake up this morning we will be on a plane to New York! Russell has to make a quick trip for a business meeting, so I've decided to go with him. It's only until Sunday afternoon. By any chance are you in New York this weekend? Ciao Loretta."
And by chance, well yes, he was planning to be in New York. "Talk about ecstatic!" Bertazon said, "I teared up."
Why a Yankees game? "I like the Yankees over everyone else except the Orioles," said Bertazon. "I have never been to Yankee Stadium - old or new. As a 50s kid from Little Italy Baltimore, I had all the baseball cards and knew their averages. I feel Yankee Stadium is the legend of baseball, home of the best. That's why I wanted to go. Love baseball."
Saturday morning in Manhattan, Loretta and Bill hugged for the first time. They spent about three hours together that day chatting and staring at one another before Bertazon had to depart to meet his friends to attend the game (a special thanks to Ken! he added).
"I could not believe we finally met," he said about Loretta. "I was only in New York for ONE day!"
Since then, Bertazon and his wife MaryLou have scheduled a 2013 trip to Treviso, Italy, to meet Loretta and her mother, where they will certainly enjoy a longer and sweeter family reunion.
And all because of one Yankees game on one Saturday in New York City.