Yankees HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel Week) is an annual program run by the New York Yankees that celebrates "individuals, families, or organizations worthy of support". Every Yankees player participates in the program with the "goal [of] personally connect[ing] with individuals in the settings of their greatest personal accomplishments." It was started in 2009 "with the purpose of performing acts of goodwill to provide encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture." It takes place every year in the summer.
HOPE Week was started in 2009. The Yankees said "this event is unique in that every player on the roster, along with Manager Joe Girardi, will participate."
In 2009, the program, which ran from July 20–24, honored a United States Army veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division who lost use of his arms and legs to Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). The veteran and his wife and son were invited to watch batting practice from the field before the game. They were surprised by a party in a suite in Yankee Stadium with several players and their friends and family.
Several Yankees surprised two men who overcame learning and developmental diseases at their place of work at a law firm in New York, where they are mail room employees. Other Yankees visited a sixth-grade Little Leaguer who has cerebral palsy but helps coach his team. After the July 24th game, the Yankees hosted a nighttime carnival for people from Camp Sundown, which is for those who suffer from Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a rare disease in which the body cannot repair cells damaged by UV light; sufferers have to avoid exposure to sunlight. The kids arrived at the game after sundown, but because of a rain delay, the game had not started, so they saw the game and did the event with the Yankees until sunrise.
The 2010 program ran from August 16–20. Manager Joe Girardi visited Jane Lang, a blind woman who attends about 30 Yankees game a season, at her home and invited her to meet the players at that evening's game. A man from Sierra Leone, who has provided for his family since he was eight, immigrated to the U.S., and received a scholarship to go to college threw out the ceremonial first pitch before a game, while a 13-year-old quadruple amputee was thrown a pool party with several Yankees.
In 2011, the Yankees held a barbecue with children from Tuesday's Children, an organization that supports children who lost parents on September 11th. Several Yankees (including Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and CC Sabathia) took survivors of the 2010 Haiti earthquake on a tour of New York City and met Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Other Yankees went to a Broadway performance by a 27-year-old who survived five brain aneurysms.
The Harmonica Incident took place on a New York Yankees team bus on August 20, 1964, en route to O'Hare International Airport. Infielder Phil Linz, slightly resentful at not being played during a four-game sweep by the Chicago White Sox that was believed at the time to have seriously set back the Yankees' chances at that year's American League pennant, began playing a harmonica in the back of the bus. Manager Yogi Berra, feeling that Linz's behavior was inappropriate given the team's recent poor performance, angrily called on him to stop, whereupon Linz threw the harmonica and loudly complained about being singled out despite not having been at fault for the losses.Journalists on the bus following the team reported the incident in the next day's newspapers, and it became national news. Although Linz was fined for the incident, he received an endorsement contract from harmonica manufacturer Hohner after the company saw an increase in sales. The contract more than made up for Linz's lost money from the fine. Radio stations in Boston urged fans of the Red Sox, whom the Yankees played immediately afterward, to greet Linz at the plate in Fenway Park with a harmonica and kazoo serenade. At an exhibition game against the crosstown New York Mets, Mets players tossed harmonicas onto the field.
The incident had divergent effects on the team. For the players, it ended well: Berra's authority as their manager was decisively established and they went 30–11 through the end of the season, clinching the pennant that had seemed out of reach. For the team's management, which had been dogged all season by reports that Berra could not control his former teammates, it confirmed that impression, and efforts to find a replacement for Berra (that had reportedly already been underway) succeeded shortly afterwards, with Johnny Keane, who was considered likely to be fired from his position as St. Louis Cardinals' manager after the season concluded, secretly agreeing to become the Yankees' manager. His team also came back from deep in the standings to win the National League pennant, and then defeat the Yankees in that year's World Series. The day afterwards, Berra was fired and Keane shocked his superiors by resigning instead of accepting a contract extension. Keane took over for Berra a few days later.
Despite its role in catalyzing the team that season, the incident has been seen as the beginning of the end of the Yankees' 15-year postwar dynasty, since it also coincided with the announcement that the CBS television network was buying the team. Keane was never able to fully earn the respect of either the aging, injury-plagued stars or the few promising younger players, and in the 1965 season the team failed to win the pennant after recording its first losing season in 40 years. When the subsequent season started with even worse results, Keane was fired, though that did not prevent the Yankees from finishing in last place. They would not return to the World Series until 1976, after CBS had sold the team to George Steinbrenner.Old-Timers' Day
Old-Timers' Day (or Old-Timers' Game) generally refers to a tradition in Major League Baseball whereby a team, most prominently the New York Yankees, devotes the early afternoon preceding a weekend game to celebrate the baseball-related accomplishments of its former players who have since retired. The pattern has been copied intermittently by other sports but has failed to catch on.
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