If you're active in the blogosphere or Twitterverse, you might remember the tragic story of Yankees superfan Steven Smith. The 24-year-old broadcasting hopeful was killed in a December 2010 car accident, leaving behind an untold number of friends he had made online while eagerly tweeting about his favorite baseball team with his @stevensmithy account.
But while many of us knew him from his online persona, Steven Smith, of course, also had a real family, one that still misses him very much. As a way to honor his son, Matt Smith went to Saturday's game between the Yankees and Phillies in Clearwater. His son's CC Sabathia jersey was on his back. In his hands was a sign that read "PLEASE REMEMBER STEVEN E. SMITH."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi saw Matt Smith holding the sign in the stands and this is where the story gets good. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has more:
Joe Girardi caught a look at the sign and walked over to Smith, talked to him for a minute and signed the poster. Smith assumed he had just experienced his highlight of the day, but it was only just beginning.
"It must have stuck in the back of his head," said Smith, who was invited by Girardi to watch batting practice with him behind the cage, where players stopped to say hello. "It was an honor. I thought the guys were very, very gracious to stop by and shake my hand. The irony is that Steven would have given his life to be out on the field, and he gave his life, and I was the one out on the field. I think that's kind of (an unfortunate) irony, but it is what it is."
"I just thought it would be nice to bring him out," Girardi said. "He's been through a lot in the last year and a half. You can never imagine what people are going through when something like that happens."
The meeting ended with Girardi taking the sign from Matt Smith and promising to have every member of the Yankees sign it when they returned to Tampa.
Was spending some time with a grieving parent an easy thing for Girardi to do during the downtime before a spring training game? Sure. But he didn't have to do it and I believe not everyone in his position would (just as not everyone would have stopped to help a stranded motorist just hours after winning the World Series, like Girardi did in 2009.)
We know, however, that Girardi is good people and it's clear his small gesture left a big impression on more people than just Matt Smith. Check out what @madisonainsley, a young woman who was just starting to explore a relationship with Steven, had to say about the day.
Well done, Joe.