by Aristotle “Mugsy” Sakellaridis
BRONX, NY – The NY Yankees are making dreamers out of people again – and not just on the field. A couple of weeks ago they opened up the gates of their shiny new ballpark and let the youngsters of the community participate in a Show Me What You Got! workout. For the kids, ages 15 and up, just setting foot on the field was priceless, yet hey got to do more than that.
Under the watchful eyes of Yankees scouts Cesar Presbott, Steve Markovich, and Matt Hyde, the dreamers, or should I say prospects, loosened up their arms and promptly took their positions; infielders at shortstop, outfielders in right. Presbott hit them fungoes and all watched as their throws rocketed to third base and home plate. The infielders showed off their range and arm strength to the barks of Presbottâ€™s â€œGood play, strong arm.â€ His energy alone led to a smooth workout/tryout among eighty hopefuls. What Presbott looks for mainly is athleticism and hustle – although a 90 MPH and a power stroke will also open his eyes.
Each candidate took ten swings of Presbottâ€™s pitches. Some batters even managed to impress the likes of Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox, who coincidentally was in the building to checkout the new billion dollar stadium before heading to CitiField, where his team was facing the Mets.
Yankees advisor Ray Negron spoke to the ballplayers before the action began and told them to basically enjoy the moment and have fun. Even though the weather was sweltering hot, fun was definitely in the forecast for these potential Yankees.
For Negron and Presbott their passion of the Yankees runs deep into the surrounding neighborhoods. Their mere presence into the nearby parks gives the kids they come across a sense of hope. On this day these kids were in the Yankees own ballpark.
This writer even got into the act as I took some grounders and got my cuts in. I was the oldest participant at the age of 40 something and I could honestly say that I wonâ€™t be waiting for a call-back. I also unsuccessfully tried to bring one back:
But for most of these youngsters, this was an opportunity; a chance to be seen. And make it or not, they got to fulfill a dream. Hey, you never know how many will turn out wearing pinstripes or some other uniform in the future.
On this day they came to play and share something special. After all, how many people can say they took ground balls in the same spot Yankee Captain Derek Jeter corals them? That’s a special thing and the Yankees provided it. Moreover, they gave some of their neighbors HOPE… And a chance to dream a little more.