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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Pinch hitting: Yankees For Justice

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Jan 21, 2008 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

On Martin Luther King Jr. day, we’re very pleased to bring you a guest blogger submission from Todd, our friend from Yankees For Justice.

“I’ve been blogging for about a year and I haven’t missed a game at Yankee Stadium in a lot longer than that,” he says. “My name appears at the end of each post only because I’m the one who writes it all down. The stories belong to everyone in the neighborhood and the opinions are filtered through my best friend Michael Allen and my online friend Murphydog.

“These are stories about people who owe everything to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I know that because we all owe him everything. He once said:

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

The Bronx agrees.”

Here’s Todd’s post:

People ask what draws you to the Bronx and you say it’s everything.

It seems too complicated and maybe a little sad to say that things are alright in a neighborhood where so much is wrong.

But you want to explain that it isn’t just about disappearing parks and dirty air and blackouts and crowded trains and busted sidewalks and peeling paint and trash heaps and rats.

So you start with a story about the kids who play baseball in parking lot 15 at the corner of River Avenue and East 165th Street.

You describe a line drive that split the outfielders just last week. Standup double you say. And then you have to tell them that there are only standup doubles on that field because it’s not really a field. It’s a parking lot that fills with cars on game days, but it’s the only place to play now that construction of the new Yankee Stadium has gobbled up most of the ballfields in the neighborhood.

Maybe they think progress is more important than people so you don’t mention the old men who play dominos in Joyce Kilmer Park and how the police came in undercover because they heard some were betting on games.

Maybe they think gambling is wrong and perhaps they even like cops. So you don’t tell them about the guys who work the streets before games because they probably don’t like ticket scalpers, either. And they wouldn’t understand why men that turn a profit off tourists then turnaround and give their unsold tickets to locals who could never afford to see a Yankee game.

People around here can be hard to define because they come from everywhere. Many of the newest are from West African countries like Mali and Senegal and Ghana and Nigeria. They wear Yankee hats because they know it’s important even if they aren’t sure exactly why, yet. They are drawn to baseball just the like the waves of immigrants that came before and their kids play in parking lot 15.

You could tell them about the guys that hang around Juan Carlos’ coffee cart every morning.

Javier is an old left-handed pitcher from Puerto Rico who has lived on Walton Avenue for more than 30 years now. Then there’s Jon from Highbridge who works on a loading dock and hustles up extra money for baseball tickets by driving a cab on weekends. There’s also Jose who delivers pizzas in the winter, but can set you up with the best seats at Yankee Stadium in the summer.

Of course, you tell them about Henry because he’s at the Stadium every day. He is always the first to arrive and the last to leave. You might spin the story about the rainy day when everyone left and the cops even took down the barriers, but Henry wouldn’t leave because Hideki Matsui was still inside.

Maybe they would think it’s foolish to take baseball so seriously, but they didn’t shake Matsui’s hand.

And they don’t know Earl who lives in Harlem, but watches most games at the bowling alley across the street. After the last out he walks over to the players’ gate to see the guys come out. “Almost like being there,” he always says.

But Earl is there just like the rest of us who smell of cigars and stale beer and urine and sweat and roasted meat and perfect french fries.

And on summer days and nights when the trains and streets rumble and groan and scream and rattle you know that everything will be alright because they are playing baseball in the Bronx.

And sometimes baseball is all that matters around here.





44 Responses to “Pinch hitting: Yankees For Justice”

  1. Peter Abraham January 21st, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Thanks to Todd for writing for us. I urge you all to check out his blog as he is a terrific writer.

  2. Jack Ransovy January 21st, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Nice one. Brings more to the game. The personal side. Good Night.

  3. Buddy Biancalana January 21st, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Excellent writing indeed, thanks for the insight Todd.

  4. Rebecca--Optimist Prime--Save the Three Musketeers! January 21st, 2008 at 12:55 am

    It’s gratifying to know that there are still people out there that get it

    Thank you. That is a beautiful post.

  5. We Miss Paulie January 21st, 2008 at 12:56 am

    Awesome post Todd. Thanks!

  6. Lori January 21st, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Thanks Todd. For a great post and for keeping our perspective.

  7. mel January 21st, 2008 at 1:00 am

    Beautiful post. Went to your site (via the blog roll, Pete’s link on top doesn’t work) and found more of the same.

    Your descriptions and writing have a great feel to them. I felt like I was there.

    You need to hook up with DeNiro. Give his Tribeca projects some real “flavor”. :)

  8. B'H January 21st, 2008 at 1:04 am

    Thanks Pete for answering my question before. I guess you’re right you’re not a real fan of a person until you know him somewhat. I’m personally a fan of Joba and Cano (you can add Wang to that list) because of the storys I read about them especialy Joba he had alot to deal with as a child and probably because of that he is who he is today a fun great guy. Since I can’t really sit down and have a chat with these guys It’s about as close as I’ll get so for me that makes me a fan. Hope you get to have some nice chats with them and share them with us. Have a great week.

  9. Todd Drew January 21st, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Thanks for all the kind words. I usually don’t have this large of an audience.

  10. Ummm.... January 21st, 2008 at 1:19 am

    This post has my seal of approval.

  11. YANKEE BIAS January 21st, 2008 at 1:22 am

    Wonderful writing Todd.

    It’s always great seeing a new post from you in my RSS feeder. I know I can take a break from the regular “news” and just enjoy some fine prose.

    Quality stuff man.

  12. PTRS 08 January 21st, 2008 at 1:27 am

    This guy is great!!!

    Excellent writing.

    Nice work ;-)

  13. Interesting January 21st, 2008 at 1:29 am

    This made me smile. I have been bugging out with the lack of baseball.

  14. tessa January 21st, 2008 at 1:52 am

    In Strength to Love, Dr. King said: “Too seldom do we see people in their true humanness. A spiritual myopia limits our vision to external accidents. We see men as Jews or Gentiles, Catholics or Protestants, Chinese or American, Negroes or whites. We fail to think of them as fellow human beings made from the same basic stuff we are, molded in the same divine image… The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.”

    This was certainly the post of a good neighbor. Thanks!

  15. ken777 January 21st, 2008 at 2:11 am

    Very very good writing. I enjoyed it very much, thanks.

  16. kasey January 21st, 2008 at 2:17 am

    great post, todd.

    i’m really glad todd was able to fill in and write something. just a great guy, all around. keep doing the good work, man.

  17. MCE January 21st, 2008 at 2:39 am

    Finally, an American holiday for someone who didn’t own slaves or rape natives! Thanks for the post Todd, I enjoyed it. Glad to see that others love baseball the same way that I do.

  18. MCE January 21st, 2008 at 2:57 am

    Anyone else find it ironic that the richest sports team in the world plays in the poorest borough of the city? I’m not quite sure what kind of justice that is, but what’s more American than the extreme rich profiting off the extreme poor?

  19. iYankees January 21st, 2008 at 3:01 am

    Very different. I read your blog a few weeks ago and have become a big fan. The stories are sort of ethnographic in a way, as they provide some rich info on people, places and the history that connects everything and everyone. Great stuff.

  20. Dr. Acula January 21st, 2008 at 4:18 am

    Here’s to the Boys of Summer.

    It’s all about them, we’re just along for the ride. And many, many thanks to the moms and dads who make it possible.

    24 Pix

  21. Dr. Acula January 21st, 2008 at 4:38 am

    And here’s to the Grrls who brighten our days

    50 Pix, new edition.

  22. mel January 21st, 2008 at 4:47 am

    Dr. Acula,

    Long time no see. Albums were great. I got one thing to say, though. Those pink boots. What was she thinking?

    Also, didn’t see any of the MVP after the AFC Championship game. :)

  23. Dr. Acula January 21st, 2008 at 5:17 am


    Hot Pink was the “it” color last year, touching accessories & footware. Interestingly enough, it was sparked by Jessica Biel’s Oscar gown.

    The AFC MVP was the Patriots’ video crew, of course ;)

    Seriously, BIG congrats on the Pats victory.

  24. Dr. Acula January 21st, 2008 at 5:27 am

    Here’s the front covers from Boston.

    Hot off the presses.

  25. Dr. Acula January 21st, 2008 at 5:40 am

    Here’s the front covers from ‘da City

    Yeah, it’s 15 degrees outside, but these pix are hot – click to expand.

  26. jessica(Let's Go Yankees) January 21st, 2008 at 5:56 am

    Dear Todd,
    What a beautiful work about baseball! You know sometimes it’s very hard for me to understand completely what you write, but I am still a big fan of your writing. I couldn’t put into words more perfect that you just did. Great Post! Great Job!

  27. mary ellen January 21st, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Awesome post Todd – you ought to write a novel b/c your characters are so rich and real!

  28. The Lady January 21st, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Hi, Todd. I just visited your blog for the first time and I love it! Your stories hit home, literally and figuratively, since I live in and near the areas you write about and know of all the street corners you mention. Thank you so much for putting such a positive, truthful spin on this little hamlet called The Bronx.

  29. Jesse January 21st, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Good post. Rich tapestry of the area and the people who make it what it is. “Almost like being there.”….amen

  30. Chuck M. January 21st, 2008 at 9:30 am

    LOVE the “Yankees for Justice” blog – it’s really high on my must-read list every day. Keep up the great work!

  31. Roy Hobbs January 21st, 2008 at 9:36 am


    Beautiful post as always. I wish I could spend a few minutes at Juan Carlos’s coffee cart.

  32. Larry Jaffe January 21st, 2008 at 9:46 am

    My Dear Friend Todd,

    As you know I am a regular and faithful reader. What a pleasure to see your work here. Being born in the Bronx, I understand and more importantly, you understand. And as Rebecca so appropriately stated, you get it. Much appreciation my friend.

  33. Jaewon January 21st, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Wow. Great post Todd.

    Sometimes I feel that exact same way — it is very impressive the way you crafted those feelings into words so poetically.

  34. Wolf In Pinstripes January 21st, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Todd, I’m not sure I can do you justice with my comments, but I’ll certainly give it a shot. You know how much I appreciate having you as someone to discuss Yankee baseball with and things in general as well. This post is such a good example of why I enjoy reading your work on your blog. You have a gift for incorporating the human element and painting a picture with what you write. The work of a good writer gets the reader’s senses involved and immerses them in the sounds, images, and smells of that picture. You do this all so well. Thanks for another great post that I have become accustomed to reading from you.

  35. Michael O. Allen January 21st, 2008 at 12:02 pm


    You give me the privilege of seeing many of these posts. They are so beautiful and so keenly observed they sometimes make you want to cry. You have a beautiful soul, a keen sense of justice and unrivaled integrity. Keep up the good work. LoHud Blog denizens, check Todd’s blog out. I know my life would much the poorer without it.



  36. saucy January 21st, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    great post Todd, as always!

  37. Todd Drew January 21st, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on the post. Thanks to the people of the Bronx and New York City for providing, well, everything. And thanks to the New York Yankees for always giving us the gift of nine innings when anything seems possible.

  38. Mark McCray January 21st, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Great post. You really should write a novel…like really should. I wondered why I liked baseball so much…now I know. :-)

  39. jk January 21st, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    The Bronx rocks and so does Todd.

  40. Mark January 22nd, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Todd, thanks for the inspiration. Quality sports writing rocks.

  41. BernBabyBern January 22nd, 2008 at 8:58 am

    I’m a little late with the comment, but … very, very nice piece. Top-quality stuff on your blog, too. Thanks for sharing it.

  42. SanFranDan January 16th, 2009 at 1:17 am

    RIP Todd. Your writing was gorgeous, and you will be missed by all, including us lurkers from… other teams.

  43. Yogis January 16th, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Heavenly! How much we will miss his writing and how wonderful a gift his writing will always be.

  44. Dano January 16th, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Seems a few of us have revisited this post.
    I’m sorry i didn’t get to know more about this great guy while i could. He was a very good, very soulful writer. We have lost a great talent, but more importantly, and as indicated by a wealth of testimonials, a great man.

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