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Saturday, December 18, 2010

When I grow up...

On behalf of all of the weekend athletes around the world, I'd like to thank Tom Fenton for paving the way. Who is Tom Fenton? On December 16, 2010, Tom Fenton became the Phoenix Coyotes back-up goalie.

As the Phoenix Coyotes were preparing to face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, their starting goalie, Ilya Bryzgalov, was stricken with the flu. Hours before the puck was to be dropped, Phoenix didn’t have time to call their minor league affiliate to acquire a fill-in goalie.

The Coyotes Head of Pro Scouting, Frank Effinger, took his search to the streets of New York, scouring the city (and state) for anyone that had experience goaltending. He found Tom Fenton of Purchase, N.Y. Luckily, after ignoring Effinger’s first couple calls because he was getting a haircut, Fenton quickly called him back. Effinger instructed him to get his butt down to MSG as soon as possible.

Fenton, 26, is currently a graduate student and hockey coach from Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y. Fenton’s goaltending experience consists four years with the American International College in Springfield, Mass. He won 14 of 81 games with a 3.87 goals-against average, including a 1-12-1 record with a 3.60 GAA in the 2008-09 season.

I don’t think Bryzgalov’s starting position will be in jeopardy after he recovers from the flu.

Sure, it’s only one game and Fenton didn’t even get to play in the game, but who cares?! He lived his dream for one night, putting on an official NHL jersey, warming up on the ice and sitting on the same bench as his heroes. Later asked, how much money he would make for his services, he responded, “Oh, I don’t know; I just signed the paper. I don’t care if there is anything involved there.” Fenton gives hope to all of the weekend athletes out there, that believe they still have what it takes to make it!

While growing up in Chester, N.Y., I had only one dream. That dream was to play for the New York Yankees. After Little League games, my dad and I would meet my best friend, Gary Ciuffetelli, and his dad at the Chester Diner. Over a cup hot chocolate and a piece of pie, I would pronounce that one day, I would be playing for the New York Yankees. It wasn’t a question, it was a statement.

To reach my goal of playing for the Yankees, I put in countless hours at the gym and hitting thousands and thousands of baseballs off a tee into a homemade net in the garage. Unfortunately, despite my extreme work ethic and determination, you can’t teach 6’3” height or flick a switch to run a time of 6.6 seconds in the 60 yard dash.

After high school, I decided to focus on being a student and having fun at a bigger, more prominent university rather than playing for a smaller school in the middle of nowhere, just for the sake of playing college baseball. But to this day, the little boy from Chester, N.Y., still burns deep inside of me. I still believe I can hit that 390 foot home run off the scoreboard against Hoggard High (see picture above); I still believe I can walk onto the mound and strike out the side against Jacksonville High.

I often receive calls from friends I’ve made while playing throughout the years; we’ll reminisce about the great times we had playing together or the battles against one another. Even my dad at 49 years young, still loves the game, often showing off his Tom Seaver-esque pitching mechanics in front of the mirror (I’m guilty too). As we get older, we don't lose that passion; we all wish we could play the game we love, one more time.

That being said, I am proud to announce my return to baseball!

As a lifetime New York Yankees fan, I will grant General Manager Brian Cashman and Director of Professional Scouting Billy Eppler the first opportunity to acquire my services for the upcoming season. Though my strength is hitting, I realize there is a significant hole within the rotation, thus making my ability to pitch, valuable to the organization.

Mr. Cashman and Mr. representatives and I look forward to hearing from you.

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