By Aristotle “Mugsy” Sakellaridis
BRONX, NY – On a wet Friday in August, there is nothing abnormal about seeing kids play stickball in the streets of the Bronx. Yet, add some Yankee players to the game and you now have the makings of a dream.
Yankees Alex Rodriguez, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Sergio Mitre decided to get some extra swings before making their way into the Cathedral they work in; Yankee Stadium. They joined youngsters from The United League in a good old fashioned stickball game in a lot outside the old stadium. A Yankee Mural is on the wall there. The kids lined up to take turns pitching to both A-Rod and Hairston.
KIDS PITCH TO A-ROD
Mitre played the role of cheerleader, as he was left with babysitting duties for his son Sam. It was more than hit and run for these three Yankees players. They took time to sign autographs and pose for photos with all the kids and passersby who were stunned to see the trio playing stickball on this drizzly day.
JERRY HARISTON, JR. READIES FOR A PITCH
The last Yankee player to be seen swinging a stick in the streets was folk hero Joe Pepitone, back in the 1960â€™s. NY Giants Willie Mays was also a regular swinger back in the 50â€™s.
HAIRSTON, JR. GIVES ONE A RIDE
After the game the players treated all the kids to lunch at Billyâ€™s CafÃ©. Rodriguez spoke to the kids and challenged each of them to read a book a month. He stressed how education is huger than hitting a homerun.
Yankees Advisor Ray Negron was hailed by Rodriguez for giving back to the children. Negron organized the event and helped to hand out gift certificates for Modellâ€™s Sporting Goods which were donated by CEO Mitch Modell. They were then presented with Certificates of Appreciation, which were freshly signed and put together by Bronx Chamber of Commerce President Lenny Caro.
The players then made their way to work, which was across the street, as they mingled with the well behaved crowd which showed nothing but love to Rodriguez, Hairston, and Mitre. For the few lucky players of The United League, who had a chance to pitch to Rodriguez and Hairston, the memory will last a lifetime.
The Yankees came through again, providing HOPE to everyone their fans – especially the kids.
Rex O’Rourke tomorrow.