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Yankee visits Hunts Point kids

As part of a personal commitment to the Police Athletic League, New York Yankee right fielder Bobby Abreu visited Hunts Point children to play stickball and sign autographs in an event that left the star-struck youngsters to aim high within their own lives.

Abreu has a long history of working with the PAL.  The Venezuelan-born golden-glove winning Abreu has donated the proceeds of wine called “Abreu’s Finest” to the PAL as part of Charity Hop, a non-profit fundraising organization where the proceeds of sales of bottles of wine bearing the names of sports stars go to the charity of their choice.

Through the Bobby Abreu Foundation, the baseball player donated tens of thousands of dollars to the PAL.

“It seemed that the name being ‘Abreu’s Finest’ was self explanatory, and so we started looking for a police organization to give the money to,” explained Brett Rudy, co-founder of Charity Hop. “The Police Athletic League was a natural choice.”

Abreu’s visit to Hunts Point was especially poignant because as a Latino player, many neighborhood children in the area, which has the highest concentration of Hispanics in New York City, idolize the Yankee star.

“It is important for kids to grow up healthy, and we need to stick together as a community,” Abreu told the children. “As a Latino, I am happy to spend time with people in my community.”

Neighborhood children got to play a game of stickball with their idol and get personal baseball tips on a ‘playstreet,’ located on Coster Street between Spofford and Hunts Point avenues during the Tuesday, July 29 visit.

“It is really cool to have a player come here not because they have to, but because they want to,” said 14-year-old Dymond Rodriguez, who works at the playstreet through the Summer Youth Employment Program. “Some of the kids here have never been inside of Yankee Stadium. I haven’t seen this kind of excitement in a really long time.”

For kids who live in the neighborhood, it was a really exciting occurrence to see one of their heroes up close.

“To me, it is very emotional because he is my idol, and I have been watching him play,” Gregory Encarnacion, a 13-year-old at the event, noted. “It is amazing, I have never meet a major league baseball player before. I hope to be as good as he is.”

The event was sponsored by the PAL and is the culmination of weeks of planning on the part of the organization, which reached out to Bobby Abreu’s own staff. 

“When we talked about where to do this event, we thought that since Bobby Abreu is Latino, what better place than Hunts Point,” said Felix Urrutia, executive director of the PAL. “It is very rare to see a New York Yankee playing stickball on a Bronx street with neighborhood kids.”

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