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The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

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Mr. Hegarty and the New York Yankees

Jasmine McIntosh
Growing up in close proximity to the original Yankee Stadium, social studies teacher Mr. Hegarty remembers going to games as a kid and having some “really cool experiences,” he said.

For as long as he can remember, social studies teacher Mr. Hugh Hegarty has been a diehard New York Yankees fan, taking his first breaths on the former grounds where his favorite squad played. 

“The very site where Hilltop Park once stood is actually the current site of New York Presbyterian Hospital,” Mr. Hegarty said. “I was literally born on the site where the New York Yankees used to play their home games.”

After 1923, the Yankees moved to the iconic Yankee Stadium, which was only 15 minutes away from Mr. Hegarty’s childhood home — allowing him to attend plenty of Yankees games as he grew up. He remembers the intimidating environment the stadium brought to the opposing players that was different from any other ballpark.

While he was going to games in the 1980s, the team was consistently good, but could never make it over the hump of reaching the postseason. 

Unlike the current MLB playoff format, in the ‘80s there were less teams that made it out of the regular season, and the Yankees found themselves a few games short of that mark for many years. “I mean, it was upsetting I didn’t get to see them play in the playoffs,” Mr. Hegarty said. “But they still had some pretty good teams.”

Despite the Yankees not reaching the playoffs during his childhood, Mr. Hegarty was able to see his team win both the 2000 and 2003 American League Championship Series (ALCS) in person.

The night before the Yankees clinched the 2000 ALCS title, the New York Mets won the National League Championship Series (NLCS), setting up a highly anticipated New York showdown — dubbed the “Subway Series” by baseball fans. “The atmosphere at Yankee Stadium was off the charts,” Mr. Hegarty said. “Everybody so wanted this Subway Series.”

Not only did the Yankees come out victorious in the ALCS — winning the sixth game of the series 9-7 over the Seattle Mariners — but they also took home the World Series crown in five games over the Mets, much to the satisfaction of Mr. Hegarty.

Three years later, the Yankees’ strong dynasty was coming to a close, but they still found themselves in the 2003 ALCS with Mr. Hegarty in attendance. They were pitted in a matchup against their division rival — the Boston Red Sox — in a series that went seven games. In the final game, current manager Aaron Boone hit a walk-off home run to vault the Yankees into the World Series. “Everyone at the stadium just [went] crazy … people hugging complete strangers,” Mr. Hegarty said. “It was just incredible.”

Despite living all the way across the country now, Mr. Hegarty is still able to make it to a couple of Yankee games. While he has gone back to the new Yankee stadium, Mr. Hegarty has also seen his team play on the road against the Baltimore Orioles, the Minnesota Twins, and the San Diego Padres. “We try as best we can each year to see a game somewhere,” he said.

Though Mr. Hegarty has watched loads of Yankees games — both in person and from home — throughout the decades, the 1998 season stands out as his favorite memory as a fan. That year, the Yankees won 114 games in the regular season, and a record 125 games after bolting through the postseason on the way to a World Series title. “That season, I think, goes down in history as one of the best teams to ever play the game,” Mr. Hegarty said. “You went into each series knowing that they had an unbelievable chance to win.”

Unlike the 1998 team, the Yankees did not find the same success last season. Even though they finished two games over 0.500 with an 82-80 record, they ended up falling short of the playoffs.

However, on Dec. 6, 2023, the Yankees made a blockbuster move to acquire star outfielder Juan Soto from the Padres. Soto’s powerful left-handed swing and Yankee Stadium’s short right field wall will be a perfect combination for a constant flurry of home runs for the four-time silver slugger. With a number of moves taking place this offseason, the organization hopes that their adjustments will be enough to propel the Yankees to a winning baseball season and positive results come postseason.

As a result of this move and others, Mr. Hegarty feels “cautiously optimistic” about the upcoming baseball season. He feels good about the team as a whole, but would prefer for the Yankees to seek out another pitcher in free agency to boost their rotation before their Opening Day matchup against the Houston Astros on Mar. 28. “If they can get one more starting pitcher, I’d feel comfortable,” Mr. Hegarty said.

Although the Yankees have some tough competition in their American League (AL) East division, Mr. Hegarty recognizes that all it takes is for his team to get “hot at the right time” and make another exhilarating run to a potential World Series title.

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