One of the things the Yankees organization prides itself on is what it does in the Minor Leagues, specifically teaching the Baby Bombers “The Yankee Way.” Besides learning how to carry on a winning tradition (Trenton is in first place as of July 11, with four of the other five affiliates right near the top of their divisions as well), Yankees farmhands also aren’t allowed to have facial hair below the upper lip, and must wear their socks high as well.
This week we’ve posted a lot of content here on YESNetwork.com about both Yankees HOPE Week activities and the goings-on of the team’s Minor League affiliates – most notably the Trenton Thunder, who, like all of the Bombers’ Minor League clubs, participated in HOPE Week this year for the first time.
Of course, Trenton is where Andy Pettitte first met five-year-old Andy Fass, one of the Yankees’ HOPE Week celebrants, back in April, a chance meeting that gave the younger Andy a passion for baseball and made April 25 a day he’ll never forget.
“That’s been an amazing story, and I can’t wait to see the Fass family again,” Thunder GM and COO Will Smith told me. “You never know what you’re going to see at a ballgame. Andy (Pettitte) flipped him the ball, and later his mom emailed me to say thanks, and gave us a little backstory on her son…I sent it to Bill (Cook, Thunder Director of PR) and said send it to the Yankees right away. The rest is history, and to have been a part of that is unbelievable.”
During that conversation with Smith, which happened while I was down in Trenton to do a feature on their promotional slate, the Thunder boss told me a story about how he was, unknowingly at the time, at the final game of Cal Ripken’s streak – saying “you never know what can happen from chance, and you never know how small actions can affect people” – and proved that point by telling me about infielder Addison Maruszak’s own HOPE Week experience.
During their week, Thunder players visited a local elementary school, held a clinic for Special Olympians, and honored folks involved in Project Freedom – but they also made a visit to Robert Wood Johnson Memorial Hospital, where Maruszak and some teammates brought flowers to new parents in the maternity ward and the 25-year-old himself got his first taste of fatherly duties.
“So Addison is visiting with one of the families, and the father asks him if he wanted to hold their child,” Smith said. “And so there’s Addison holding this infant child…he’s married, but doesn’t have any kids yet, and you could see the twinkle in his eye. There’s no doubt that experience may stay with him forever, even more than anything he might do on the diamond this year.”
If anything, Maruszak will remember that moment – and likely the ribbing of teammate Ryan Pope, who asked Maruszak If he had told the child’s parents that he led the league in errors – on the day he holds his first child, and if and when he reaches the Big Leagues, he’ll remember that day when he takes part in his first Yankees HOPE Week event.
Just another day in the education of how to be a Yankee.
Photo provided by Bill Cook of the Trenton Thunder.