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Riverhead retires No. 21 baseball jersey of NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen

As a baseball player at Riverhead High School, Brian Simonsen played catcher, batted left-handed and had “a real strong arm,” his former coach, Blair Marelli, recalled.

The next generation of Riverhead baseball players now will always remember the name Simonsen and his nickname, Smiles.

His No. 21 jersey was formally retired at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon prior to the varsity team’s game against Connetquot to honor the legacy of the fallen NYPD detective.

Det. Simonsen’s wife Leanne and mother Linda both tossed a ceremonial first pitch.

The No. 21 now hangs on the side of the Blue Waves’ dugout and a monument at the entrance to the field features “Smiles” engraved on the top and the No. 21 at the base.

The Blue Waves all wore 21 on their home white jerseys.

“He leaves behind a legacy of service to others and a commitment of making his community a better place on a daily basis,” said Bob Ries, who led the ceremony.

The Riverhead softball team also honored the Simonsen family last month.

Photo caption: Leanne, left, and Linda Simonsen pose next to the monument unveiled at the Riverhead baseball field. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

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Det. Simonsen’s wife, Leanne.
Det. Simonsen’s wife, Leanne, after throwing the first pitch.
Det. Simonsen’s mother, Linda, also threw a ceremonial first pitch.
Riverhead baseball coach Rob Maccone prepares to hug Linda Simonsen.