Monday, June 8, 2015


I'm not saying I'm Santa Claus.  I am saying I like to give back to people... fans... once in a while, especially the fans of Bleeding Yankee Blue who have supported us here. The other day, it happened. Let's just say, there was an opportunity, and so I reached out to @CaniPettitte. Go to Photo Day at Yankee stadium... On me.  The response was priceless, and that made me happy as I handed over the tickets and gave her a hug. 

What you're about to read is something magical and a true story.  And yes, when new opportunities arrive, I may be reaching out to you, and YOU, and you to see if you'd be interested in attending something this cool. I'm good like that.  Consider it a "Thank you" for being so loyal to BYB.  Ho... ho... ho.

Here's @CaniPettitte. Enjoy this. I certainly did.

It was my first New York Yankees Photo Day, and it was a chance to rub elbows with the who's who of Yankees fans, the connected, the die-hards, the fans that lived and breathed New York Yankees everyday. It was perhaps even a chance to get to meet some of the Boys in Pinstripes themselves, I had no idea what to expect.

I emerged from the subway and walked the few blocks around the stadium, eventually lining up around the corner from Gate 8. There was an intimidating line at first glance, but within five minutes I was through and into a large, poorly lit tunnel. I passed through security and by staffers on walkie-talkies pitching orders and three large Gatorade coolers. There we excited fans there, pausing and speculating.  There was a buzz in the air.  Finally, I stepped out into the sunlight. It was a perfect, sun-drenched day, a breeze in the air, warm, but not oppressively so. Before I knew it, I was on the light-brown dirt of the warning track in front of the left-center field fence. I saw the clear paneling, the wetness of the morning slightly obscuring my view of the 'pen where Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have made their home while dominating hitters all season long. The outfield wall cast a shadow over the back part of the warning track, and I sheltered there while assessing the situation. There was a lining of fans and least two people deep spread across the front of the warning track, but nary a Yankee to be seen, as two Los Angeles Angels played long-toss in front of the visiting dugout. After snapping various trivial shots, some in front of the scoreboard, others leaping up at the wall, the standard musts, my next goal was to find a spot to take the "important pictures," the ones that had be so excited for this special day.  I had no idea what would happen next. Would the Yankees simply stretch and wave from their usual outfield spots, iPhones don't have good zooms.  Would they make the trek out to the edge of the warning track to meet the fans? If so, was it obligatory, would they care, would they be happy or seem annoyed? Trust me, alot was going through my head.

Then it began- the slow parade of Yankees players, coaches, and media personalities. The first wave included Superstar Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka, Chase Headley, and some others, they gave a few waves and cursory glances and jogged across the field, not to appear again for the duration of my stay on the warning track. A slight feeling of disappointment came over me. Was this how it would go? A chance to get some blurry snapshots of players jogging, obscured by hats and a parade of arms holding cell-phones? At this point, I positioned myself next to a friendly couple who agreed to make space for my boyfriend and I- at least I would be able to get the closest, uneventful snapshots.

But then, things began to change. My boyfriend called out from behind me that more players were coming out, but now, they were shaking hands, some of them stopping for pictures, and to my surprise- a fan was even able to grab a quick autograph before security stepped over to try and break it up, too late of course.

Alex Rodriguez, my favorite active Yankee was one of the players in this second wave of pinstripes, stopping to take photos and shake hands. I waited nervously, double and triple-checking my phone to make sure I had enough space and battery, nothing could ruin this moment. As he approached, fans reached for him, asking for pictures, begging to shake his hand- Alex obliged, and it dawned on me that this could be my chance. I called his name and in my most genuine pleading voice, asked him to take a picture with me- he said yes, and before I knew it I was posing, with A-Rod, waiting for something to go wrong, but nothing did. My boyfriend snapped a photo of me and my idol and just like that he was gone.

The moment seemed to linger in the most positive of ways, almost surreal. I was so happy- but I didn't have much time to reminisce because before I knew it, more players were upon us. Brian McCann, perhaps the most friendly of the bunch, stopped for every photo that was requested- the next thing I knew, his arm was around me, snap, and then around my boyfriend, snap. Two more mementos. Boom.

The parade continued, one after another. Some players seemed to be making their rounds, unenthusiastic and going through the motions, but others interacted- spoke, shook hands, paused for pictures, seemed genuinely happy to interact with their legions of fans. As Carlos Beltran approached, my boyfriend and I called out for a photo, he happily agreed. As he left, my boyfriend shock his hand and said, "Man Carlos, that year you had in the playoffs with Houston, that was ridiculous!" As if caught off guard, Carlos paused for a second, and then as if he didn't know what else to say began chuckling and said, "Thanks man." 

Next came the skipper himself, he was as gracious as ever. In retrospect, this seems somewhat ironic, because several hours and five plus innings later, he jumped over the dugout fence and ran toward the home plate umpire who had just tossed his starting pitcher CC Sabathia from the game, uttering some phrases that, upon replay, seemed slightly too R-Rated to repeat here.

Then there were others, some jogging by and waving, some seeming ever so happy to pause and take every moment possible with their fans.

We met Michael Kay, John Sterling, and Ken Singleton. The voices of the Yankees, the link to the glory years of the late 90's and early 2000s.  Finally, it was Didi Gregorius, all by himself, the man cast in the shadow of Derek Jeter, burdened with the impossible task of replacing The Great One, the Captain, Derek Jeter. He was greeting the fans, as he approached he flashed different hand singles, the likes of which I had never seen. An usher ran to him and told him he needed to go back to the clubhouse. When fans protested, the usher said, "Sorry, it's MLB rules and regulations, we have to get him back inside," and just like that it was over. Standing on the warning track where, though be it, in an earlier iteration of Yankee Stadium, the likes of DiMaggio, Mantle, and Ruth had patrolled the outfield, looking in on where, Gehrig, Berra, Mattingly and so many other greats had patrolled the infield, and at the mound where Ford, Guidry, and my all-time favorite, Andy Pettitte of course, had toed the rubber, the experience began to wash over me. It was truly a great moment.

I took a second to take it all in, before security wished us a good day and led us back through the dim-lit tunnel where it all began.

Thank you Robert Casey for our meeting and the hand-off that turned into the coolest day I've had at Yankee Stadium in a while.  You made my day, and I'll never forget it.

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