By Dan Mount
Carthage senior Mike Nevills has made plenty of big plays with his hands in his baseball career, but the one he made Sunday at Yankee Stadium will be one he remembers forever.
“It ranks on or near the top of the list,” said Nevills, who also played football and basketball this season for the school.
The senior pitcher and outfielder caught the 400th home run ball from New York Yankees slugger Carlos Beltran in the sixth inning of the Yankees’ 7-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox in The Bronx.
Members of the team were on a trip to the ballpark thanks to fundraising efforts from the school booster club. The ball came quickly off of the eight-time All-Star’s bat and Nevills reacted just as fast to snag the ball.
“The ball must have ricocheted off of a cinder block or a speaker and it came steaming at us, but Mike (Nevills) was able to bare-hand it,” said Carthage baseball coach Joe Sech, who is in his 10th season leading the Comets program.
Yankees security personnel quickly made their way to Nevills and asked him to come down to the clubhouse to give Beltran the home run ball.
“We got see the bowels of stadium, from the batting cages, to front offices and got to see the clubhouse,” Sech said.
Originally the club said Nevills could bring just four of his friends, but the senior pitcher insisted on having the rest of the team take part in the festivities. Yankees management was finally convinced to let the whole team meet Beltran.
“It took some bargaining, but it wouldn’t have been the same if they didn’t get to experience it,” Nevills said. “I’m sure someone else on the team would have done the same.”
The team was able to see the see the inner workings of the stadium and got to meet the three-time Gold Glove Award winner. Nevills and Sech were impressed by Beltran’s attitude.
“Carlos was very personable,” Nevills said. “He took the time to time to talk to us about character, focus and what he had to go through.”
“He was happy to see us and he said congratulations and thanks,” Sech said. “He took the time to talk to us, wanted to see where we were from and talked to us about the game of baseball.”
Nevills was rewarded with four signed baseballs, two autographed bats and a pair of jerseys. However, Beltran also signed autographs for anybody on the team who requested one.
The moment will always stay with Nevills and the team, but he said everyone would have been content even if he didn’t come up with the milestone homer.
“We were just looking forward to the trip and spending some time together as a team,” Nevills said. “This was a dream come true.”
“It’s one of those days that you’ll never forget,” Sech added.
The day at Yankee Stadium may yield more than just some signed souvenirs, as the Comets have some work to do if they want to clinch a spot in the upcoming Section 3 Class A tournament.
“This brought us together as a team,” Nevills said. “We have to win some games to make sectionals with the (Frontier League “A” Division) playoffs coming up on Thursday.”
BD body text: It’s not the first time that a person with a north country connection has corralled a record-breaking ball in Yankee Stadium as 2010 St. Lawrence University graduate Christian Lopez snagged Derek Jeter’s 3,000th career hit in 2011, which was a home run.
This story was orignially published by the Watertown Daily Times at http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/sports/carthage-senior-recounts-unforgettable-catch-of-yankee-players-milestone-home-run-video-20160518.