The family-run business, located at 64-21 53rd Dr., was home to priceless sports memorabilia, all of which was lost on that day.
Last week, restaurant owner George O’Neill surprised the family of Maspeth firefighter Mike Weinberg, a local hero that lost his life on September 11, 2001, with a dedicated wall to their late son’s days as a standout baseball player with St. John’s University.
“We were able to bring out some of his old friends and his family, so I think everything worked out just fine,” O’Neill said after unveiling a replica of Weinberg’s number 22 baseball jersey. “It will stay there as long as we don’t have a fire, maybe forever.”
Don Landolphi, Weinberg’s former assistant coach on the baseball team, joined father Morty and his family at O’Neill’s for the ceremony.
“This is really a nice honor,” Landolphi said. “He gave so much of himself, not only in baseball, but in his career that he chose as a fireman.”
St. John’s graduates and Morty’s friends George Smith and Bruce Meyerson first approached O’Neill about restoring the memorial when they learned Morty would be back in town to visit.
“We wrestled with the fact that this might open up some old wounds again for Morty, but we thought they might close another chapter,” Meyerson said.
Morty Weinberg, Mike’s father, said he had no idea O’Neill and his friends were planning the surprise, adding that he was happy they did.
“I think it’s very nice,” Morty said. “He has always been doing very nice things like that. He has a very good heart.”
Mike was off duty and on his way to the golf course when he got word that a plane flew into the World Trade Center. His father said it was then when he made his way to Ground Zero to help.
“He was very unlucky,” he said. “When he came out of the building, that’s when they came down.”
Today Morty lives in Florida, but visits often and stops at St. John’s Cemetery, where his son is buried, every day he is in town.
“Anybody who knows him remembers him,” Morty said. “This is just a good memory thing for Michael.”