By Kristin Schultz
Coach Joe DiCaprio wanted to take them out to the ball game, and on May 28, Niskayuna Baseball League players got more than peanuts and cracker jack. Players and parents enjoyed an afternoon of America’s pastime including time on the field, seats in the Judge’s Chambers and a grand slam.
The Yankees host days throughout the season for youth baseball organizations. Groups can buy reduced-price tickets and, once the teams and chaperones arrive at the stadium, get to walk around the field on the warning track.
In his first year coaching a Niskayuna team in the Cal Ripken League, DiCaprio decided to organize a trip to a Yankees game.
“There are about 450 players in the Niskayuna league,” DiCaprio said. “I thought we’d get maybe 20 or 30 people.”
All told, 261 people — players, their family and friends — loaded into cars and boarded charter buses for the trip to the city.
The kids and grown-ups rounded the outfield and got to meet and greet some of the big-leaguers who were warming up.
Joey Spindler, 8, loved walking onto the field and meeting the Yankee players, especially high-fiving Masahiro Tanaka and Austin Romine.
In addition to reduced ticket prices and the chance to rub elbows with the pros, some of the Niskayuna players and their parents got to sit in a special cheering section called the Judge’s Chambers.
Rookie Yankee outfielder Aaron Judge has been a powerhouse in pinstripes. To capitalize on fans’ excitement about the 6-foot 7-inch, 282 pound outfielder, the Yankees built a special cheering section called the Judge’s Chambers.
The section of 18 stadium seats has been retrofitted to look like a wood-paneled courtroom and those chosen to sit there are given judge-like robes to wear and foam gavels to wave.
DiCaprio chose 18 players at random and they donned the robes and sat down. In the third inning of play against the Oakland A’s, Judge crushed his first grand slam, sending the Judge’s Chambers and the whole stadium into a frenzy of celebratory cheering and hugs.
“I loved when Aaron Judge hit the grand slam,” Will DiCaprio, 7, said. “We almost caught the ball, and it was cool because we got to be on TV.”
The afternoon ended with a 9-5 victory for the Yanks over Oakland.
Riding high after the bus ride to the Bronx, the team members returned to their own fields, practicing pitching, catching, hitting and fielding — for the love of the game.
Jake DiCaprio, 10, is ready to get back out there. “I love that I can play my favorite sport with my friends and my family at the same time,” he said.