Fordham Prep’s Jack Giannini ran out to shortstop like he’s done so many times before. When he got out between third and second base in this particular instance there was someone next to him. The person extended his hand and introduced himself as Derek. Giannini told Derek it was nice to meet him.
He then took a look at the thousands of people in the new Yankee Stadium watching him and his teammates take the field with the Bronx Bombers for the national anthem. Each Rams player went to their position and stood with the corresponding Yankee last Wednesday.
“I was at first just blown away by how nice Derek [Jeter] was and how warming and welcoming he was,” Giannini said. “I was just looking around. I was like ‘Oh man this is unreal.’ There are thousands of people everywhere.”
The Rams were being honored for winning the CHSAA intersectional baseball championship. Centerfielder T. J. Mangan remembers being next to Melky Cabrera and just being in amazement of what he was experiencing.
“You run out, you are standing next to these guys who do it every single day and it’s just one time for you,” Mangan said. “It’s a big deal. To them it’s just no big deal. We are just out there and we are so amazed that we are out there that we didn’t even hear that there were people in the stadium. It could have been an empty stadium. That was the coolest part about it.”
What catcher Jesus Jaile recalls most was being with Jorge Posada at home plate and the Yankees catcher taking time to greet all of the Fordham Prep players prior to the game.
“For him to take those five minutes out was a lot,” Jaile said.
It was the second time in as many weeks Fordham Prep was honored at a major-league park. On June 25 they got to visit the Mets at Citi Field. The team got to a watch the Amazin’s taking batting practice in their private indoor cage. They were amazed by the intensity of the players’ work and the attention to details in the scouting reports.
“They had a huge TV on in the batting cage and at first we thought it was like SportsCenter or something,” Jaile said. “It was all [Cardinal starter] Chris Carpenter highlights. They were watching for 45 minutes.”
Rams hitting coach Bobby McLaughlin used the time to study how the Mets conduct batting practice, what the players were working on and even how it was pitched.
“He didn’t want to leave,” Fordham Prep coach Steve Pettus said. “He would have stayed there all day long.”
The players got to meet, chat and get autographs from David Wright and were greeted by some of the other Mets. They said Wright was a cool guy and very down to earth.
“You see them and they are not much older than us,” Mangan said. … “It’s just like they are kids.”
At Yankee Stadium they watched the game from the most expensive seats, about 10 rows behind home plate. At Citi Field they were seated down the third-base line.
“Better seats than I’ll probably be ever able to afford,” Jaile said.
The things they experience those two days were worth much more than that. The Rams saw it as a perfect and fitting end to what was a memorable year and season. They staved off elimination multiple times to earn the CHSAA city crown and have a few more special memories to boot.