PLATTSBURGH — David Jablonski wasn’t going to bring his glove to the Yankees game, but his cousin Colby convinced him he might just need it.
“He said, ‘Dude, we’re in home-run territory. Just bring it.’”
Little did he know his mitt would lead to a celebrated catch and a memorable meeting with outfielder Nick Swisher in the Yankees clubhouse following the game.
The Rochester native and Thomas Jefferson University student is living locally with family while completing an internship at Kinney Drugs pharmacy on Military Turnpike.
But on Aug. 13, he hung up his lab jacket and put on his pinstripes then headed to Yankee Stadium to watch a battle with the red-hot Texas Rangers.
Jablonski and Colby, along with his aunt and uncle,
Steven and Claudia Griffin, arrived at the stadium as they always do — early.
“The gates open two hours before the game. We always go early and wait in line to watch batting practice,” he said.
They enjoy watching batting practice, always hoping a hit comes their way.
When Jablonski and his family finally made it to their seats in the upper deck of the right-field bleachers, they played musical chairs before settling on a seat.
“Before the game started, I actually switched seats with my uncle because he is hard of hearing in one ear,” he said.
Jablonski, now sitting beside his aunt, joked about how he knew a ball was coming his way.
“I put my glove right in front of her and said, ‘This is where I am going to catch the ball,’” he laughed.
‘HAPPENED SO FAST’
The Yankees were down 2-0 in the bottom of the third with Swisher, facing a 1-0 count and bases loaded when the slugger connected with the ball, sending a shot to the exact spot Jablonski had predicted, directly into his glove.
“At first, it looked lower than us, but it just kept rising. It all happened so fast. For a slight moment, I hesitated,” he said. “But I reached out, I caught it, and then we started going nuts. We go absolutely nuts.”
OFFERED IT BACK
In the midst of the elation and celebration, the family noticed the scoreboard flashing “grand slam” and “200th career home run.”
That’s when Jablonski realized what he had to do.
“I knew that usually they want that ball, so I went up to security and told them I am the guy who just caught Swisher’s ball and I would like to give it back to him,” he said.
Soon, he found himself in the office of the executive director of stadium security, Edward Fastook, who immediately questioned Jablonski’s intentions.
“He asked me what I wanted for the ball. I told him I didn’t want money,” Jablonski said.
“I just wanted to hand-deliver the ball to Swisher and congratulate him. I said I’d love to meet him in person, and my family, too. We are all such big Yankees fans.”
UP TO THE CLUBHOUSE
Fastook kept the ball, telling Jablonski that security would find him following the game.
On the way back to his seat to watch the rest of the game, which he describes as being “a blur,” Jablonski said fans offered unsolicited advice as to what he should do with the ball.
But he knew exactly where it should go.
After the game, which the Yankees won 8-2, everyone was escorted to an elevator with direct access to the Yankee clubhouse.
Raul Ibanez, Joe Girardi, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, David Cone and Yankees commentator Suzyn Waldman all said hello and congratulated Jablonski, while photos were snapped in anticipation of meeting Swisher.
“Suzyn shook my hand and said how honorable it was that I didn’t want money,” he said. “She said, “We talked about you (on the radio). All of the Yankees universe knows about you.’”
HUGS FROM SWISHER
A short time later, Swisher and his huge smile greeted the family.
“Where’s Dave? Where’s my man,” Swisher said, entering the clubhouse.
Jablonski went to shake his hand but was greeted with a huge hug.
“He hugged my family and said how awesome it was to meet us. I just congratulated him and told him he deserved it,” Jablonski grinned.
After signing autographs and posing for photos, Swisher presented Jablonski with a signed ball and bat.
“I was just so excited. It started to sink in that he hit his 200th home run, a grand slam, and I caught it,” he said.
MENTIONED ON RADIO
Swisher was excited about reaching the milestone — and about meeting Jablonski and his family.
“I signed a ball, and I signed a bat for him. I spent about 15 to 20 minutes with him and his family taking pictures and just kind of hanging out, man,” the fun-loving Yankee said, praising Jablonski and his family on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN Radio the day after the game.
“I was just so happy that he didn’t want anything. He just wanted to give the ball to me, and I couldn’t have been more thankful, man,” Swisher said. “What a class act. That’s Yankee baseball for you.”
Jablonski returned to Plattsburgh to complete his internship with his signed memorabilia, still smiling from the incredible experience.
“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. You couldn’t have scripted anything better,” he said.
“As a diehard fan, it is a dream come true.”
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