YANKEE STADIUM – The New York Yankees are the most storied franchise in all of sports. For this reason, they have the most loyal former players and fans. 250 diehard fans, clutching memorabilia, eagerly made their way to a group of Party City suites in right field Saturday, clamoring to meet their heroes from the 1977 World Series Champion Yankees. Promised at least three players from that team, fans were delighted to find Joe Quagliano of Mint Pros exceeded their expectations and delivered eight former players!
Forty years after capturing the World Series title together, Ron Guidry, Sparky Lyle, Bucky Dent, Mickey Rivers, Graig Nettles, Mike Torrez, Ron Blomberg, and Roy White excitedly posed for photos, signed autographs, and connected one-on-one with each fan in attendance. During the 8th inning of the Yankees game, I talked with Richard Shaw, a retired New York City police officer and 9/11 first responder. He told me: “I grew up watching the Yankees and I loved the ’77 [and] ’78 teams. Graig Nettles and Ron Guidry – those are my two favorite players… Meeting them was very special. I wanted a picture with them and I wanted their autographs and it worked out great.” The one-on-one time that customers have with the athletes during Mint Pros’ events is something special. Shaw’s friend, Ray Marino, also a retired New York City police officer and 9/11 first responder, shared with me the moment he had with his favorite player, number 9, Graig Nettles: “I told him myself that I always used to wear number 9 when I was 8, 9, 10 years old in Little League. I told him I was a third baseman and it was great to meet him today.”
Believe it or not, the players in attendance seemed to be having even more fun than the fans! Ron Blomberg talked to me about the “Bronx Zoo”’s camaraderie: “It’s really incredible because it’s almost like 40 years ago…. They’re [my] brothers. It’s a brotherhood and it’s great to be part of the Yankees and it’s great to be part of the organization and that’s why I’m up here helping Joe.” When I asked Bucky Dent, who won his first World Series championship with the 1977 Yankees, if the guys pick up right where they left off, with a laugh, he replied: “Oh sure, right up. I mean, they don’t change. You know, we got grey hair, but we don’t change. Stories are better, balls go farther, we throw harder, everything!” Roy White and Mike Torrez also told me that they had some “good laughs” with their former teammates while “reminiscing” about their time together. Ron Guidry broke it down for me: “You start in spring training, you play all the way from February until October, and you live with those guys eight months out of the year, so you become very close…. When you retire, because you go your own way, you don’t get to see them anymore. So anytime that we have a chance to get together… we’re more like brothers than like friends. So when we get together, we cut up, we pick at each other like we always have and it’s always fun to see them.”
As for Shaw and Marino? They, along with many of Mint Pros diehard Yankees fans, will be back for more events. “I just had an enjoyable day and it was worth every penny. I want to do it again as soon as possible” Shaw said. Marino echoed his sentiment, telling me he’d “absolutely” be back: “It’s worth every cent… it was a very, very good experience and it’s going to a good charity.” The 2017 Yankees, particularly Brett Gardner, made the day even more enjoyable (as if that were even possible) with a dramatic walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth inning: his second in three days. Everyone, for sure, went home happy!
Danielle McCartan interviews 1977 World Championship Players at a Mint Pros Legends Suite Game
|MIKE TORREZ||RON GUIDRY|
Danielle McCartan, M.Ed.
“If you had one shot, one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment, would you capture it?
Or just let it slip?”