Sheppard’s Run Ends With Jeter’s Exit. Introduced Major Yankees, Personal Moments

By Jason Klein

Derek Jeter’s career is coming to an end.

When it does, he’ll take Bob Sheppard’s voice with him.

Though Sheppard was silenced for good with his passing in July 2010, Jeter has continued to pay homage to the legendary Yankees Public Address Announcer of nearly 60 years. Since his final game in the booth, back in 2007, a recording of Sheppard’s Jeter introduction has been played prior to each of Derek’s at bats.

A Sheppard Recording is Played Before Every Jeter At Bat.

A Sheppard Recording is Played Before Every Jeter At Bat.

“Now batting for the Yankees…number 2…Derek Jeter…number 2.”

Sheppard’s voice had a mythical quality to it. Goosebumps surfaced with every properly pronounced syllable. Jeter single-handedly extended Sheppard’s Stadium shelf life by seven years – long enough for a new generation of fans to experience him, including my 4 year-old daughter.

For that, I’ll always be grateful for Jeter’s decision to be introduced by the “Voice of God” for as long as he continued playing.

As it turns out, he only has another month to go. Two if we’re lucky.

Sheppard’s style always inspired me. In an industry saturated with big, booming voices, Sheppard preferred to quietly stick to his timeless method of “Clear, Concise, Correct.” Yelling and over-embellishment wasn’t his style. Instead, he took pride in his ability to properly speak the English language.

His voice was ear candy. He made every trip to Yankee Stadium an event. He was synonymous with the Yankees brand, like pinstripes and façade.

His voice was heard before some of the biggest moments in franchise history.

In 2008, I wanted his voice heard before my biggest moment too.

In the winter of 2008, I placed a call to Paul Sheppard, Bob’s son. I was getting married that upcoming July 4th, and wanted the “Voice of Yankee Stadium” to present my wife and I to our guests.

At that time, Sheppard had already announced his final game at Yankee Stadium. His health was deteriorating and his son informed me that he’d honor my request should his condition remain stable.

In late Spring, Sheppard, feeling more like himself, pre-recorded intros for my future wife and me, along with the rest of our wedding party – something that remained a surprise for our guests until our wedding reception was interrupted by:

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Glen Island Harbour Club.”

Heads swiveled, eyes popped, and jaws dropped low. His voice added a layer of historical elegance typically only found at East 161st Street in the Bronx.

After our wedding party entered, my wife and I joined the fun on Sheppard’s cue:

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, please rise, and remove your caps. Please give a warm welcome to, for the first time as husband and wife…the Bride and Groom…Mr. and Mrs. Jason Klein…the Bride and Groom.

[See Video of Intro Below]

Hearing Sheppard announce my name as I entered the room on my wedding day was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

Only Derek Jeter has had that same pleasure over the past seven years.

When he goes, so does Sheppard’s voice.

We can all enjoy hearing it over the next month.

Two if we’re lucky.


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Jeter’s Last Act as Captain America?

By Jason Klein

Derek Jeter grew up on the national stage.

Next Tuesday could be his final performance there.

Prior to 2014, his Yankees teams have made the playoffs in 17 of his 19 years in the league. They have won 7 American League Pennants and 5 World Series. During that time, Jeter has methodically built his name, his brand, his reputation, and his legacy as one of the most clutch and consistent winners in sports history.

An October Staple, Will Jeter Get Another Shot in 2014?

An October Staple, Will Jeter Get Another Shot in 2014?

As this season’s pinstriped pieces continue to crumble around the 40 year-old shortstop, so do his chances of adding more postseason success to his remarkable resume. Injuries have decimated his teammates, claiming 4/5 of the Yankees pitching rotation, and forcing key position players to miss considerable time.

Once a right of passage for The Captain, his place in October is not guaranteed this year. For that reason, his appearance at this year’s All-Star Game, the 14th of his career, could be America’s last real opportunity to say goodbye to the future Hall-of-Famer.

At times, those who follow Jeter on a regular basis thought he might play forever. His youthful appearance, consistent demeanor, and will to win have never waivered. He’s kept us all feeling young, even as he got old.

There was a time, in the late 90s, Jeter had a legitimate shot to catch Yogi, and match his ten rings. If the Yankees miss the playoffs for only the third time in the last twenty seasons, Jeter’s title count will be permanently frozen at five.

If there are no more postseason evenings in Jeter’s future, there will also be no more legendary flips, dives, or signature jump throws. We will have seen the last of his October heroics and his November home runs. Never again, will we witness a Pennant clinching fist pump or a World Series clinching, arms raised, leap into baseball lore.

Typically a meaningless sports charade, Tuesday’s All-Star game becomes must-see-TV, if, in fact, it’s Jeter’s last appearance in the national spotlight. A sport, and an entire country, will get a final opportunity to honor one of the game’s most respected ambassadors.

Derek Jeter grew up on that national stage.

Can he rally his ailing Yankees towards another playoff run?

If not, the All-Star Game could be his last performance before the entire country.

No October encore.

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The Kentucky Derby, Whitey Ford & Me.

By Jason Klein 

I watched the Kentucky Derby with Whitey Ford.

It was just the two of us. Well, not really, but it sure seemed that way.

It was May of 2005, and I was at a charity event in Scarsdale, NY. Brandon Steiner, CEO of Steiner Sports Marketing, had put the affair together at his home, and had attracted a group of former Yankees that would rival any Old Timer’s Day in the Bronx.

While there, I talked hitting with Don Mattingly, pitching with Ron Guidry, and drank some Miller Lite’s with Wade Boggs. I even played poker with reigning World Series of Poker Champion, Chris Moneymaker.

Whitey Ford.

Whitey Ford.

Around 5:30 PM, a bunch of us filed into Steiner’s TV room to watch the 131st Kentucky Derby. That year’s race had a strong pinstriped presence too. The late George Steinbrenner, then still much in control of his beloved Yankees, owned the race’s 5-2 favorite, Bellamy Road. Trained by Hall of Famer, Nick Zito, and coming off a victory in the Wood Memorial, Bellamy Road was Steinbrenner’s best chance to win the storied race. He had tried four times prior and never saw any of his horses finish higher than 5th place. This was his big shot!

The room I was in was packed. Everyone wanted to see how Bellamy Road would do. I couldn’t find a seat, so I leaned up against the wall on the side of the room. Moments before “My Old Kentucky Home” signaled the race’s imminent start, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around and saw that the left hand resting on me was attached to the most famous left arm in New York Yankees history. It was Ford. He was there to watch the race too.

“The Boss is probably nervous as all hell,” he said to me.

“I know, I responded. “You think he’s going to win this thing?”

“I sure hope so,” he said with a stone cold face. “Otherwise, he’s going to be mad as shit.”

With Mattingly at the event.

With Mattingly at the event.

I tried to swallow, but suddenly my palms were wet and my throat was dry. During his career, Whitey Ford had that effect on nervous opposing batters. That day, he had the same impact on me. At the time, he was an ornery 76 years old, baseball royalty, and still very intimidating. After that, I don’t remember another person in that room besides Ford and myself.

I was about to share the “greatest two minutes in sports” with the greatest lefty starter in Yankees history. The horses entered the start gate, heard the gun sound, and were off!

Bellamy Road got off to a decent start, keeping pace with the early leader Spanish Chestnut. I looked over at Ford and saw him pumping his fist. He looked encouraged.

Things got very exciting about a minute into the race. That’s when the announcer blurted out, “…and here comes Bellamy Road, who’s charging up on the outside!”

I made eye contact with Ford. He gave me the same confident look he used to give Yogi Berra behind the plate, or so I imagined. He was sure Steinbrenner’s winning ways would continue that day at the Derby.

I remember thinking to myself, “I wonder what it would be like to be watching this race with Steinbrenner?” I also wondered if Ford was thinking the same thing. What an experience that would be! Especially if his horse actually came out on top!

Hold that thought. That’s when things fell apart.

With Boggs & Guidry at the event.

With Boggs & Guidry at the event.

As the horses came down the final stretch, Bellamy Road faded worse than the 1978 Red Sox.

“Come on!” Ford yelled.

It wasn’t meant to be. The Boss’s hyped horse drifted backwards into the pack to finish the race in 7th place. A 50-1 shot, Giacomo, ended up winning that day.

Ford put his hand on my shoulder one more time, brought his lips close to my ear, and whispered, “The Boss is going to be fucking pissed! That I promise you.”

With that, the “Chairman of the Board,” chuckled, patted me on the back, picked up his drink, and walked out of the room.

Ford was right. Steinbrenner must have been seething after that defeat. On the other hand, I think Ford was at peace with the situation – for once, he didn’t have to deal with the boiling boss. He watched the race with me instead.

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Time Stood Still With Jeter In Pinstripes

By Jason Klein

Nobody wants to get old.

As long as Derek Jeter kept playing for the Yankees, I didn’t have to.

Watching him play on a nightly basis over the last nineteen years helped prolong my childhood and allowed me to escape Father Time’s inevitable grasp.  His consistent play, stable demeanor, and youthful appearance made me feel like time stood still for two decades.  As long as Jeter wore pinstripes, I’d feel young.

I watched him as a kid & worked with him as an adult.

I watched him as a kid & worked with him as an adult.

Flip on the game and…POOF!  I could be a kid again.

This October, when Derek Jeter walks away from baseball for good, he’ll take a big piece of my childhood along with him.  He’ll also leave behind a franchise in need of a new identity.

Former Yankees Pitcher, and Jeter teammate, Mike Mussina once said: “We can put on the uniform, and we can play in the Stadium, but we’re not the New York Yankees unless Derek Jeter is playing shortstop.”

With Jeter onboard, the Yankees could always be the Yankees of the mid-to-late-90s.  They could be the Bernie-Tino-O’Neill-Posada-Pettitte-Mo Yankees.  With #2 penciled in the lineup, expectations, confidence and accountability would always be high.  No waters ever seemed too choppy, as long as Jeter was the Captain of this pinstriped ship.

He is the final link to the most recent golden era of Yankees baseball – the last “Core 4” member standing.  He helped win four World Series Titles in five seasons.  He made his jump throws, wore his Jumpman, and at times, you believed he’d keep playing, and winning, forever.

He won’t though.  His remarkable career will come to an end after the 2014 season.  The Kalamazoo Kid who never seemed to age, finally did.  It reminds us all of our own mortality.

Nothing lasts forever.  Even if it seems like it might.  If you’re twenty-something, all you know is Derek Jeter at shortstop for the Yankees.  Literally.  That’s it.

Taking my daughter to a game in April 2013.

Taking my daughter to a game in April 2013.

I was fourteen when he made his debut.  I’ll be 34 when he tips his cap for the final time.  For twenty years, no matter what was going on in my life, Derek Jeter was a constant.

He entertained me as a high school kid, distracted me as a college student, inspired me as an adult, and worked alongside me during my career at Steiner Sports.

My Dad took me to see him play as a kid.  Now I take my own daughter to see him.

The fact that my 3 year-old daughter roots for the same active player in 2014 that I did in 1995 is a tribute to Jeter’s consistency, longevity, and drive to succeed.

As a parent now, I watch her get older with each day that passes.

With Derek Jeter retiring, I’ll get a little bit older too.

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“Bronx Bombers” Cast Members Thrown Curve Ball. Still Hit HR!

By Jason Klein

The New York Yankees and adversity don’t mix.

The most successful franchise in professional sports is the oil to adversity’s vinegar – consistently rising to the top.

The same can be said for the cast members of the new Broadway show “Bronx Bombers.”

"Bronx Bombers" Opened on 1/10/14.

“Bronx Bombers” Opened on 1/10/14.

In desperate need of a warm baseball reprieve this frigid winter, my wife and I found ourselves at the Circle in the Square Theater this weekend, checking out the pinstriped play.  That’s when cast and crew were thrown the ultimate curveball halfway through the performance.

Following a scene set within Yogi Berra’s bedroom, ceiling cables attached to the bedposts decided to malfunction.  When an extended fifty-minute intermission couldn’t rectify the issue, the oversized prop was left as a permanent part of the set the rest of the show.

The Circle in the Square theater has no backstage area, and consequently, no place to move the errant bed to.

Ever wonder what a king size bed would look like inside the Yankees clubhouse?

Rather than lay down, cast members adopted a “show must go on” credo, and turned in a flawless performance the rest of the way.  They could have easily just pulled the cover over their heads.  Instead, I was quickly drawn back into the compelling story, often forgetting the large elephant…I mean…bed in the room.

A Yankee fan’s ultimate fantasy, “Bronx Bombers” brings together legends from all different eras of Yankees baseball.  Told from Berra’s point of view, an all-star collection of players including Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Howard and Jeter meet up in a dream sequence – all in an effort save the franchise from combustion following Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson’s famous 1977 dugout squabble at Fenway Park.

Produced by Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo, the show pays extra close attention to detail throughout.  Sitting atop the theater, like a crown, is a replica Yankee Stadium façade, and with MLB’s blessing, each player wears their era-specific uniform.  Everything from length of sleeves, bagginess of pants and style of stirrups is addressed. Actors also do an excellent job portraying their characters.  At times, I found myself recognizing players purely by their posture and mannerisms.

When an uncooperative prop threatened this authenticity halfway through the show, the cast responded in true Yankee-like fashion – rising above adversity to deliver a championship performance.

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Cano Goes To Seattle, Leaves Future Earnings In The Bronx

By Jason Klein

Robinson Cano went after every last cent.

I don’t blame him.

But, before he did, he should have paid closer attention to some lyrics his agent, Jay Z, once rapped:

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!  Let me handle my business…damn!”

As a top baseball talent, Cano is much more than just another player.  He’s his own brand.  He’s a company.  He’s a “business, man!”  His new 10 year, $240 M deal with the Mariners is incredibly shortsighted.  If he wanted to truly maximize his value, he should have accepted less money up front and stayed put in the Bronx.

He's smiling now, but Cano just left his future earnings in the Bronx.

He’s smiling now, but Cano just left his future earnings in the Bronx.

There would have been a lifetime of earnings waiting for him at the end of his career.  He would have made more money in the long run.

Not only would he have capitalized on the marketing appeal that goes along with being a life-long Yankee, but he also would have established himself as a staple within the sports memorabilia and collectibles industry.

After cementing his legacy in pinstripes, he would have essentially been able to print money by just signing his name over and over…as long as he lived.

The New York Yankees, and their players, dictate the collectibles market.  Cano should have looked no further than the men within his former locker room for confirmation.

Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are both pinstriped lifers, and are two of the most sought after, and expensive autographs around.  A Jeter hand signed MLB baseball retails for $799 on  A Rivera ball goes for $399.  Even at these prices, Steiner Sports can’t keep these balls in stock!

During my time at Steiner, Jeter and Rivera were consistently the most asked about autographs on Steiner’s menu – many collectors extended beyond their financial means just to add them to their collections.

Cano would have received a similar demand had he stayed in New York.  With Rivera gone now, and Jeter on the way out, this could have been Cano’s team moving forward.  Instead, he’ll disappear on the West Coast.  His new team will be financially hamstrung by his deal and won’t be able to support him with the talent he needs to succeed.  Plus, he’ll lose his marketing appeal since half the country won’t watch his late games.

Had Cano won another World Series or two in New York, and continued to dominate on the biggest stage in sports, he would have dominated the collectibles world as well – making even more money long term.

Robinson, you should have remembered…you’re a business, man!

Big picture was, a new Yankees deal would have meant unlimited long term earning potential.

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Rooting For History, Not The Red Sox.

By Jason Klein

I love watching the Yankees win.

I also love watching sports history made.

This puts me in an uncomfortably conflicted position for tonight’s Game 6 in Boston.

Fenway Park will host Game 6 of the World Series Tonight.

Fenway Park will host Game 6 of the World Series Tonight.

There’s nothing more satisfying than a “Wow” moment in sports.  I crave those “stop whatever you’re doing and watch this” type of events.

Tonight, we potentially get one of them at Fenway Park.  With a win, the Red Sox would knock off the St. Louis Cardinals to clinch their first World Series Championship at home since 1918.


In 2004, the Curse-breaking barrage of  “Idiots” (their term, not mine) capped off their title on the road, in St. Louis.  Three years later, they stormed the field as champions again, this time in Denver.  The last time they turned the trick at home, Babe Ruth, no doubt, enjoyed a few celebratory cold ones.

Needless to say, it’s been a while since Red Sox fans witnessed history made in their own backyard.

Root, root, root for the Red Sox tonight?

I don’t know if I’ll go that far.

But, there’s a chance to witness something that hasn’t happened in 95 years!

If they don’t win it’s a shame.

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Boone Sends Yankees To The World Series, Fans Into A Frenzy

By Jason Klein

(Today is the 10 Year Anniversary of Aaron Boone’s miraculous ALCS Game 7 HR.  The 11th inning walk-off blast sent the Yankees to the World Series, and preserved the Bambino’s Curse for at least one more season.  The Following Post Can Be Read, In Its Original Form, As I wrote on 10/17/03)

Babe, Bucky, Buckner…Boone.

At 16 minutes past midnight on Friday morning, Aaron Boone added his name to the list.  Aaron “Bleepin’” Boone.  Tied at 5 in the bottom of the 11th inning of game 7 of the ALCS, Boone sent Tim Wakefield’s first pitch through the Bronx sky, and safely into the hands of George Herman Ruth sitting out in the left field stands.

“Like Derek [Jeter] told me, the ghosts will show up eventually,” Boone said.

Images From Game 7, 10/16/03.

Images From Game 7, 10/16/03.

With an early 4-0 deficit, and Roger Clemens out of the game, the 56,297 in attendance were wondering just when the Great Bambino planed on showing up.  He probably just got caught up in traffic following the water main break on the Deagon.  He showed up 8 innings late to the party, but the Babe arrived in time to see the Yanks capture their 39th American League pennant in dramatic fashion, coming from 3 down in the 8th inning, to win the game 6-5 in 11 innings.  Boone’s walk off, series ending blast punctuated the evening.

“I knew it was out, I finally put a good swing on it,” he said.

It’s a swing that will long be remembered, perhaps one of the most dramatic of all time.   One swing of the bat from Boone ended the most compelling, evenly matched series in Major League Baseball history, sending Yankee Stadium into a frenzy and the Red Sox home for the winter.

“This was our chance to get the World Series,” Boston’s Johnny Damon said. “And we were so close.”

Cowboy Down.

“This is the best, said Yankees manager Joe Torre.  “To come here and play against the Red Sox, and play them 26 times and beat our rival like we did, it couldn’t be more satisfying.  This has to be the sweetest taste of all for me.

However, early on things were rather sour in the Bronx.   The Sox got to Clemens early, tagging the Rocket for 6 hits and 4 runs through only 3 innings.  Clemens’ ineffectiveness, coupled with Pedro Martinez’s brilliance was a sure sign of a pinstriped apocalypse.  Many wondered if this would be the night the curse was broken.

Jason Giambi, batting out of the 7 hole, delivered 2 solo shots and Mike Mussina’s 3 scoreless innings of relief kept the Bombers in the game, but it wasn’t until that fateful 8th inning when the Empire finally struck back.

The Captain, Derek Jeter got it all started with a double to right, and Bernie Williams knocked him in with a single to make it 5-3.  After a Hideki Matsui double, Red Sox Manager Grady Little went out to meet with Martinez.  After some convincing, Pedro stayed in the game and gave up a game tying double to Jorge Posada.  Red Sox 5, Yankees 5.

That’s the way it would stay until the 11th, thanks to a flawless 3 innings of relief from the incomparable Mariano Rivera.  It was the first time Rivera had thrown 3 innings in a game since 1996.

“Words can’t describe him, he is a cartoon character,” Jason Giambi said of Rivera.

After Boone hit, what former Mayor Rudolph Guliani deemed “the best home run since Chris Chambliss in ’76,” the Yankees were World Series bound for the first time since 2001.  They will be fishing for Marlin starting Saturday night in the Bronx.

That challenge can wait until then.  For now, New York revels in its latest dance with destiny.  They came from behind to beat Pedro, Wakefield, and an entire Red Sox nation that holds little regard for the aura and mystique found season after season in the Bronx.

“I believe in ghosts,” Derek Jeter said when asked if there was something to the Curse. “And we have a lot of ghosts in this Stadium.”

Those Cowboys from New England may not agree with Jeter, but they surely have heard of the killer “B’s” that continue to haunt them every year.

Babe, Bucky, Buckner…and now Boone.

“Go back to Boston boys. Goodbye,” said George Steinbrenner following game 7. “They didn’t treat us very well in Boston, but you know, we get the last laugh.”

Bye Bye, Boston.

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Yankees Trio Part Of My Childhood. My Daughter’s Too.

By Jason Klein

“Dewick Jeeta!”  “Annie Peditte!”  “Mo!”

That’s what my three year-old daughter calls them.

I’m just ecstatic she even knows who they are.

Like the iPhone, baseball rosters change every year.  Players come and go, switch teams, retire, or fade into baseball ambiguity as their skills diminish.

Taking my daughter to a game in April 2013.

Taking my daughter to a game in April 2013.

Yet, incredibly, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera have remained a constant within the Yankees Universe for 19 years.

Long enough for me to enjoy them with my daughter.

It’s every father’s dream to share their passion with their children.  Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera were a major part of my childhood.  Remarkably, they are now a part of my daughter’s too.

I’ve watched them compete since 1995, when I was a fifteen year-old sophomore in high school.  I grew up celebrating their success.  Some of my happiest memories were made watching the three of them play, and win, in the Bronx.

Now I’m 33 years-old, married, and have a child.

They’re still playing.

Think about that.  They’re still playing!  Not on a YES Network Yankees Classic from ten years ago.  They’re still out there grinding today (Jeter’s injuries aside), at a high level for the Yankees, in 2013.

It’s a remarkable tribute to their consistency, longevity, and drive to succeed.

When the 2013 season ends, so will Pettitte & Rivera’s careers.  Jeter isn’t far behind.  Together, they’ve authored tons of memorable moments.  Baseball fans of all ages are fortunate to have watched their extraordinary careers.

There may never be another trio quite like “Jeeta, Peditte & Mo.”

When they finally leave the game for good, they’ll take a piece of my childhood with them.

My daughter’s too.

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No Phone. No Problem. Douds Still Got Through.

By Jason Klein

My iPhone wouldn’t turn on.

It wouldn’t charge, connect to a network, or receive a call.  A spilled glass of water was the culprit, but all fingers were pointed squarely at me.  I was the one who accidently left my device next to cell phone kryptonite.

I was frustrated, annoyed, and upset with myself for the gaffe.

I felt isolated from the world.  All alone.

No one could get through to me.

In a panic, I put life on hold, and headed to the Apple Store to try and restore my method of communication.

Ironically, while there, I ran into a man who once heard me loud and clear.


It was 1996.  I was a sophomore at Yorktown High School in Westchester, NY, and had serious concerns about what direction I wanted to take my life.  Looking back, I guess I was no different than any other sixteen year-old.  For some reason, though, figuring out my career path was very important to me at an early age.  At times, it consumed me.

Professionally, I just wanted to know where I’d fit in.  My indecisiveness often left me feeling isolated from the world.  All alone.

Everyone had advice, but nothing seemed to fit.

No one could get through to me.

Then came Forrest Douds.

Douds Understood My Passions & Helped Set My Career Path in HS. Image Courtesy of

Douds Understood My Passions & Helped Set My Career Path in HS. Image Courtesy of

He was my high school guidance counselor and I craved guidance.  We had talked several times in the past – mostly about football, and his father, the first head coach in Pittsburgh Steelers history – but this time we huddled up to discuss my future.  With encouragement and compassion, Douds analyzed my situation.

Our broad, and lengthy talk concluded with a single, focused plan of attack.  We decided I should make a career out of my two passions (sports and writing) and that somehow, I would have to meet a former student of his, Rick Cerrone.

Cerrone, also a Yorktown High School graduate, had once engaged in a similar conversation with Douds.  Combining his own love of sports and writing, Cerrone went on to become the Director of Media Relations and Publicity for the New York Yankees – a role he held from 1996-2006, spanning 6 World Series appearances and 4 championships.

Back then, Cerrone’s schedule was tighter than a Yankees-Red Sox Pennant Race.  An actual meeting with him, as Douds had suggested, would be difficult to swing.

Getting together with him seemed unimportant at the time though.  Just hearing that a local kid had made it in professional sports was enough motivation for me.  Yet, just a few hours after Douds told me his story, Cerrone randomly showed up at Yorktown High School.  Unannounced and unbeknownst to Douds, he happened to be in the area and decided to visit the man who had once helped him find his own way.

Fate?  Coincidence?  Didn’t matter.  I had my meeting.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time chatting with Cerrone about his career path, and quickly developed a nice relationship.  Through the years, I would periodically pop into the Press Box at Yankee Stadium to meet up with him during games.  I made a habit of checking in from time-to-time, to update him on my career, or give him a quick call to say hello.

Something I couldn’t do without a phone, though.


Several hours had passed now, and I still couldn’t power up my device.  Some Genius at the Apple Store informed me that the phone was beyond repair, and I’d have to invest in a new one.  The revelation left me even more frustrated, and for the moment, still isolated.  In need of a quick pick-me-up, I decided to take a walk before committing to the unexpected purchase.

Then came Forrest Douds.  Again.

I hadn’t seen him since graduating in 1998, and there he stood, inside Lids, chatting with the kid at the register about his father’s 1933 stint with the Steelers.  It was surreal.

I approached him from behind and patiently waited for a break in his conversation to jump in.  The Lids employee noticed me hovering and asked if I had a question.  I replied, “Not for you…but for him.”

I pointed at Douds.

“Forrest Douds?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Jason Klein…Yorktown High School,” I continued.

His eyes opened wider than a 300-pound lineman.

What ensued was a true testament to just how dedicated Douds was, and still is, to all of his students.  Though fifteen years had passed, it may as well have been fifteen minutes.  To my surprise, he remembered everything about me.  He jumped right into conversation, asked how my writing career was going, wanted to hear how my parents were doing, and even referenced our fateful meeting with Cerrone.

“I tell that story all the time,” he gushed.

“So do I,” I admitted.

Throughout our talk, Douds showered me with praise and recounted fond memories he had of me as a student.

We talked a little football too, naturally.  Now a high school football coach, Douds glowingly spoke about his current roster.  He loved his players, and loved life.  His passion was infectious.   For the moment, I realized just how insignificant my dead phone really was.

Douds got through to me again.

Despite my technological limitations, we exchanged contact info – the old-fashioned way, with a pen and paper – and wished each other continued luck and success moving forward.

Before heading back to the Apple Store, I asked that he stay in touch with me.

With a new iPhone in my pocket, he’d have no trouble getting through to me.


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