TAMPA-ST PETE, FL – It was back in 2015 when rookie lefthander pitcher Steven Matz made his first start for the N.Y. Mets against the Cincinnati Reds. The internet views were off the charts during that game at Shea Stadium (known as Citi field.) Not only did Matz pitch well, he also showed his batting skills with two hits and four RBIs. That’s not what caught the public’s attention, it was Matz’s grandfather’s animated reaction to his grandsons performance that won the nation’s hearts.
Bret Moller, Steven’s 82-year-old grandfather became known as Grandpa Matz, for his “Oh My God” antics whenever his 24-year-old grandson excelled. Moller’s reaction to Steven’s two run double in his first Major League at bat was heart attack material. His two run single in at bat number three had Moller so excited he looked like a candidate for the emergency room at Elmhurst Hospital.
Last weekend another rookie created some buzz down in Tampa. New York Yankees’ phenom Anthony Volpe made his start as shortstop against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin. Volpe’s grandfather, who goes by the same name, watched his grandson put on a show. His hard hit balls led to two hits and his two stolen bases impressed his teammate Josh Donaldson, who played third base alongside Volpe. Donaldson said after the game, “He was showing off today.” It was Donaldson’s way of describing his comrade’s talents.
In the stands were the shortstops father Michael, and grandfather. The smile on the face of the 80-something grandpa was the same one that a Lotto winner makes. Nobody in the packed house was happier than the Senior Volpe. His teeth were beaming brighter than the Florida sun, as he watched his son’s son hold down the shortstop position and lead the offense in the Yankees 9-5 win.
The game was the icing on the cake, or in this case the cheesecake for Grandpa Volpe. The previous night he made his way to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater to catch another Jersey Boy, Frankie Valli. Valli’s performance overwhelmed the senior so much that he made his way backstage – thanks to Director of Entertainment Bobby Rossi – to meet his favorite singer. He let Valli know how much he adored his show and was all smiles at the surreal experience.
The Senior Volpe then hung out in the lounge area where he was offered a slice of cheesecake. He was hoping it was similar to the famous Junior’s cheesecake, until he took his first bite. Mr. Volpe then declared, “This is the best cheesecake I’ve ever had.” Two more pieces were gulped down as the Yankees’ top prospect’s grandfather was on top of the world. The only thing that could top this night for him was the next day.
Seeing his grandson in a Yankees uniform and being introduced as the leadoff hitter was better than meeting his favorite singer – and even better than that cheesecake. For the die-hard Yankees fan, who grew up idolizing number 7, Mickey Mantle, it was too good to be true.
Grandpa Volpe would probably swear to God that his weekend was his best. Frankie Valli, great cheesecake and watching his grandson take his first steps into Yankees immortality.
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