Big Andy, Little Andy, and the Gift of Hope
For many New York Yankees fans, getting a chance to meet the players, throwing out the first pitch at a game, and having the team throw a party just for you would all be bucket list items; once in a lifetime opportunities that may never be accomplished. On Wednesday, June 27th, Andy Fass did all of those things, and he is only five years old. Andy will start kindergarten in the fall, and he will have a pretty cool story to tell the other kids.
Andy has a condition called Oculocutaneous Albinism, a condition that has rendered him legally blind and without pigment in his skin. For those affected by this condition, time spent outdoors is limited. Sunglasses and sunscreen are necessary at almost all times. The limitations are there, but you would never know it by looking at Andy. He is as energetic as any other five year old and he has a smile that can light up the room. On Wednesday afternoon, the third day of Hope Week, the New York Yankees gave Andy the surprise of a lifetime.
Andy’s relationship with the Yankees dates back to a Trenton Thunder game in April. The starting pitcher for the Thunder that night was Andy Pettitte. Pettitte was making a rehab start on his way back to the big show. He finished his warm up tosses and started walking back to the dugout. As fans screamed and cheered and begged for the ball, Pettitte chose young Andy Fass from amongst the crowd and handed him the ball. On that night, Andy became interested in the game of baseball and told his parents Marc and Jill that he wanted to play. Andy has since started playing tee ball, and is rising above limitations.
On Wednesday, Andy and his family were surprised with a private suite at Yankee Stadium. Family members awaited Andy’s arrival, as did Yankees CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Clay Rapada. After giving hugs and high fives to all of his family members, Andy had to go down to the field and throw out the first pitch in front of 45,099 fans. There was also another surprise waiting for Andy after the game. The Fass family was driven to the MLB FanCave in downtown Manhattan. At the FanCave, more extended family members and friends awaited Andy’s arrival. More Yankees were also in attendance. Chris Stewart and the captain, Derek Jeter, joined Sabathia, Hughes, and Rapada in all of the fun and games. The Bronx Bombers also gave tee ball lessons to all of the kids in attendance.
Andy Fass’s attitude is infectious. He can put a smile on anyone’s face in just seconds. While his condition is a major part of his life, it is not his whole life. Part of his life is now focused on the game of baseball, and it is because of the New York Yankees and Andy Pettitte, or big Andy. Little Andy Fass has become a ray of hope, and he will never forget his special day with his new friends, the New York Yankees.