A-Rod schmoozes with Yanks fans
Loyal followers get opportunity to meet star on Tuesday
NEW YORK -- Daniel Shikhman pushed through a crowd on the subway platform stairs and a made a beeline for the Yankee Stadium entrance. He knew Alex Rodriguez was greeting fans in Monument Park before Tuesday's game, and he couldn't bear to miss his chance to meet one of his idols.
So Shikhman, 13, sprinted the whole way from the train to the gate. He was a little late arriving from Brooklyn and didn't have much time to waste.
Then the unthinkable happened: Shikhman was held up. A ticket-taker outside saw Shikhman and asked him to slow down and walk the rest of the way. Someone running at full speed in a crowd of people around Yankee Stadium is an accident waiting to happen.
Shikhman made it with just a few minutes to spare, panting and exhausted from his run. But for the chance to pose for a picture and speak with Rodriguez, it was all worth it.
Rodriguez was in Monument Park on Tuesday afternoon, meeting with fans before the Yankees' game against the Nationals, giving them a rare chance to interact with a star player. Fans began lining up outside Monument Park from the moment the Stadium opened at 4 p.m. ET.
"I can't believe what just happened. I can't believe I met A-Rod," said Shikhman, still out of breath but visibly excited. "He's one of my favorite players ever. I'm just so happy right now. I just met A-Rod."
The Yankees have held meet-and-greets with different personnel once each homestand. Manager Joe Girardi, relief pitcher Brian Bruney and general manager Brian Cashman met with fans in the Great Hall as they entered the ballpark on June 4.
Rodriguez emerged from the Yankees' bullpen adjacent to Monument Park wearing a blue warmup jersey, pinstriped uniform pants and his cap. The fans waiting patiently met him with a loud ovation, at which point Rodriguez posed for pictures, shook hands and spoke with hundreds of fans in a 20-minute period.
A few moments into the session, Rodriguez asked the Yankees official overseeing the event if he could step in front of the barrier separating him from the fans, letting him get even closer to the action. This request elicited another, even louder cheer.
Fans of all ages met with Rodriguez, ranging from toddlers to elderly adults. Rodriguez took the time to make conversation with the fans, giving special attention to children. One young boy, when asked where he was from, admitted he was a Phillies fan, eliciting laughter from Rodriguez and those waiting in line.
"I was just being honest," he told his family as he walked away, smiling the entire time.
For Toni-Marie Martinez of Clifton, N.J., meeting Rodriguez was an unexpected thrill. Tuesday was her first time at the new Yankee Stadium and did not know she would have the opportunity to meet one of the best players on her favorite team.
Martinez planned to wear her No. 13 Rodriguez jersey to the game -- the only Yankee uniform she owns -- but spilled food on it and had to change. Her new outfit? A blue Derek Jeter No. 2 T-shirt.
"I guess wearing his number would have been even more fitting, but this was really incredible," Martinez said. "What an incredible way to remember my first tip to the new Stadium."
Jared Diamond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.