The game’s results are meaningless, but the Red Sox won the game 5-3.
Even as everyone continued to drool over the second stand out performance by Yankee pitching prospect Manny Banuelos, there was a story told about something off the field that captivated anyone who was listening. The fact that this was kept quiet makes it all the more meaningful.
It is well worth reading and knowing, as it made me proud not only to be a Yankees fan but a baseball fan. Here is the story PART OF ONE BIG FAMILY written by Daniel Barbarsi of the Wall Street Journal:
TAMPA—Hours before a game last September, word went around the Yankee clubhouse that hitting coach Kevin Long wanted to gather the entire team for a rare meeting.
Soon, the players were huddled up, and Long told them about Bridget, an 11-year-old girl they had never met, the daughter of Ron Johnson, the first base coach for the Red Sox.
Bridget, Long said, had been in an accident. She was riding a horse alongside the road in August, near the Johnsons’ Tennessee home. A driver came around the corner a little too fast and plowed into Bridget’s horse, severing the young girl’s leg above the knee.
Bridget survived, and doctors re-attached the leg—but her body rejected it, and it had to be removed. She would need a prosthetic leg, and although the Red Sox had been financially generous to Johnson, money was still a problem, Long told the roomful of Yankee players.
Johnson had been Long’s minor-league manager in the mid-1990s. When Long’s playing career was winding down, Johnson helped Long get his first coaching job, with the Kansas City Royals—even going to management on Long’s behalf when a promised job offer didn’t materialize. It was a debt Long always wanted to repay.
“Our friendship is deep. It goes way, way back,” Long said. “Friends aren’t just there for the good times, they’re there when things go backwards on you. Anything I could help him with, I wanted to do.”
Bridget’s story touched the Yankees. It didn’t matter one bit that Johnson worked for the rival Red Sox, A.J. Burnett said.
“He came to us, and you could hear it in K-Long’s voice how important it was to him,” Burnett said. “You just wanted to help in any way you can. We’re a huge family here. Whether you’re a Yankee or anybody else, we’re all in it together.”
Johnson is a baseball lifer, playing a handful of games as a big first baseman for the Royals and Montreal Expos in the mid-1980s, then beginning a long slog through the minor league coaching ranks. He finally reached the majors as Boston’s first base coach in 2010.
Long’s story is similar. The two men bonded over their respective treks, and reveled in each other’s successes.
“The day I got the big-league job, he was one of the first ones to call. The day he got the big-league job, I was one of the first ones to call him,” Long said.
That kind of life has been rewarding, but not lucrative. Suddenly confronted with spiraling medical bills for Bridget’s care and recovery, Johnson’s finances were shaky.
Johnson has made a lot of friends over his 30 years in baseball, but few of the Yankee players knew him beyond seeing him in a Red Sox uniform by first base. But they knew he needed help, and that was enough, said Mariano Rivera.
“When you hear things like that, it’s a fellow worker. You just want to help. Especially when it comes to the family, you know?” Rivera said.
One by one, they wrote out checks to help—significant checks, though none would say how much. They were said to be just as generous as the Red Sox players, who themselves had ”passed the hat” and opened their wallets to help the Johnsons through.
Long gathered it all up and mailed it to Tennessee, where Ron Johnson had just spent 34 straight days living in the hospital with his daughter, as she healed and learned to adjust to life without her leg.
“We got out of the hospital, we got home, and one day this package showed up from the Yankees,” Johnson said.
Read the rest of this magnificent act of kindness PART OF ONE BIG FAMILY….
- Yankees Put Rivalry Aside When Tragedy Struck the Red Sox (online.wsj.com)
- ATTENTION NEW YORK YANKEES: Manny Banuelos Is Ready for the Show (bleacherreport.com)
- MLB: Don’t Make the Mistake of Underrating the New York Yankees (bleacherreport.com)
- Putting aside the rivalry to help a friend (boston.com)
- New York Yankees: Are They Really American League East Underdogs? (bleacherreport.com)
- How ‘Bout Them Yankees? (gabrielaltieri.wordpress.com)