clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Meet Frank Broccolo

New, comments

Meet the fan from New York who became a Diamondbacks fan, and had one of the most amazing things happen to him right before our eyes.

Meet Frank Broccolo.  An unassuming man who grew up in New York, and for most of his life he lived and breathed Yankee's baseball.  Name a famous Yankee player, and Frank has watched them.  Babe Ruth?  Yup.  Roger Maris?  Yup.  Lou Gehrig?  Him too.  Frank has seen them all come and go, and rooted for them all.

A few years ago, Frank moved to Goodyear Arizona, presumably to be with his family.  Honestly I didn't get to ask why, but I wish that I had.  Not long after the move, he became a Diamondback fan.  Frank says he became a Diamondback fan 5 years ago while the team was having a spectacular underdog bid in the playoffs of 2011.  Now instead of cheering for Mark Teixeria or C.C. Sabathia, he instead cheers for Nick Ahmed, Paul Goldschmidt, and Zack Greinke.

Yesterday, Frank, made it to the ballpark for a special game between his two favorite teams, the Yankees and Diamondbacks.  It was the first time these two teams have played in Phoenix since the now infamous game 7 of the 2001 World Series 2010 series where the Yankees beat the Diamondbacks 2 games to 1.  For Frank though, a special set of circumstances were leading up to one of the most spectacular moments in baseball.

You see, Frank had just turned 100, and his family wanted him to see his two favorite teams play for his birthday.  So, he and his family of 5 generations came to the ballpark to give Frank a special day just for him.  Even the Arizona Diamondbacks organization wanted to make sure he came to the game, so they gave he and his family the owners seats.  That may have been special enough to make anyone's 100th birthday the greatest gift, but this wasn't any ordinary day.  This was Joe Garagiola day.

Since the passing of Joe Garagiola Sr. earlier this year, the Arizona Diamondbacks have been planning a special tribute to the former catcher turned TV personality.  As a result of this, the timing of the Yankees could not have been better.  It was cause for one special guest to appear at the game, so that he could pay tribute to the late great Joe.  That man was MLB's Chief Baseball Officer, former New York Yankee player and coach of the 2001 Yankees, Joe Torre.

It was as if Joe Sr. himself had arranged for this to be the day both Joe and Frank would be together at the same place, and at the same time.  As part of the grand gesture made by the Diamondbacks organization, Frank and his family were allowed on the field during batting practice.  As the various players would come by signing autographs, they would stop to come see one of baseballs greatest fans.  Nick Ahmed, Patrick Corbin, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Drury, and even Yankees manager Joe Girardi stopped by for a handshake.  But when the Yankee's skipper had come by and talked to Frank about where they played baseball as kids, he realized there was someone there that day Frank had to say hello to.

Joe quickly ran over to a gathering of men behind home plate, and frantically told Joe Torre about Frank.  Frank, who was just standing there, watching the various Yankee batters taking their practice, had no idea what was about to happen.  With a smile from ear to ear, Frank watched the players, and talked with excitement about his family, his memories, and his love of baseball.  Meanwhile, this was going on.

As Joe Torre walked over towards Frank, his family grew ever more excited as they knew Frank was about to meet one of his favorite men in baseball.  It was everything we as fans love about baseball.  You don't just watch a game and the players, sometimes you can also meet them.  At meet them Frank did.

The exchange between Frank and Joe was one of the greatest moments I have ever witnessed, and though it may never appear on any score-sheet or highlight reel, it was something we should all treasure.  Joe did more than just say hello, shake Frank's hand, and talk some baseball.  No, Joe had something extraordinary in mind.

What you are seeing there, is Joe putting his 1996 World Series Championship ring on Frank Broccolo's finger, and giving Frank the thrill of a lifetime while his family looked on in amazement.  The rest of us standing beside Frank could feel the weight of this historic event in his life.

To think, when Frank's family tried to convince him to come to the game, he insisted he would just rather stay home.  Thankfully with their persistence, and the persistence of the Diamondbacks organization, a breath taking, tearful, and momentous occasion came to be.  One that I will not forget, and one that I am sure Frank and his family will remember forever.

Watch the whole exchange between Frank and Joe, captured for all of us to enjoy as fans of the greatest game on earth.