(Photo: Drew Wildstein)
Several popular Yankees were in the bleachers on Friday for Tanyon Sturtze Night, for the Pinstripes Sports Dreams Foundation.
The foundation was organized by several members of a Yankees fantasy camp who were able to talk some former players into coming on board. The goal is to raise money for youth players who need equipment and traveling fees.
“We’re losing a lot of kids because they’re starting to price themselves out of it,” said Sturtze, who serves as the Advisory Board President. “They’re making it too expensive for these kids that should be playing, that can’t play. So that’s where we want to step in and try to help out.”
Unlike basketball, baseball can be a very expensive sport to participate in. And it’s become more of a full-time activity.
“When we were kids we didn’t play all year round, we played other sports,” Sturtze said. “Now these kids, all they do is play one sport and these guys know it and they charge them a lot of money to start playing on their travel teams.”
Another player involved is 1996 hero Charlie Hayes, who runs the Big League Baseball Academy in Texas.
“Coming up playing youth ball and actually coaching it, it’s a great thing, it’s very important,” Hayes said. “I think it builds character. Kids learn how to work hard. You learn to trust. Everything that happens in everyday life.”
Hayes was very helpful to some of the fantasy camp members who had the idea for the organization, including Fredo Weiland who serves as the director, and Advisory Board Member Drew Wildstein.
“A lot of the guys look up to you, but I’ve always been one of the guys,” Hayes said. “I know more of the vendors here at the stadium than I knew of the guys that signed my check. So I always try to keep it like that. Just being a part of this is special.”
Hayes, who saw his son drafted by the Pirates earlier this year, is familiar with players who are short on cash. The former third baseman said that the amount of players on his team that can or can’t pay is “50-50”.
“We went to Cooperstown and our catcher couldn’t afford to go. I kind of paid for him out of my pocket because it wasn’t going to be a good tournament for us if we didn’t have him.”
Also in the bleachers was 1970 All-Star Fritz Peterson. The pitcher with the all-time lowest ERA at Yankee Stadium became involved through the bleacher creatures, but has known Sturtze for awhile.
“Tanyon I got to know through a fantasy camp and he’s such a wonderful person, I just love the guy. He’s like my big brother and Mickey Rivers is like my little brother. It’s a great cause and Tanyon’s a great, great guy. If I was playing ball today I would want to be on his team and have him hang out with me so he could protect me.”
Tanyon Sturtze Night was the first major event for the foundation which hopes to have many more over the next few years.
“All of us had to start somewhere and usually it was our dads and our families’ friends who made it possible for us,” Peterson said.
For more information visit pinstripessportsdreamsfoundation.org