Tim Fedroff: A Pocket Full Of History
- Name: Tim Fedroff
- Age: 27
- Organization: UNC, Columbus Clippers, Cleveland Indians
(Tim Fedroff hit .316 combined between AA and AAA last year, leading the Indians organization with 148 hits. In 2013, Fedroff is hitting .273 at AAA Columbus.)
Author: Patrick Kinas, DNAOfSports.com creator.
Every time Tim Fedroff took the amateur baseball fields during his teenage years, a little something made him feel like a major leaguer. Fedroff had a secret. For all of the legends to grace Yankee Stadium - Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Reggie Jackson - Fedroff was secretly playing with a pocket full of history.
Most kids growing up in Hillsborough, New Jersey are predisposed fans of the New York Yankees, and for former University of North Carolina star Tim Fedroff, 26, that was no exception. The town of nearly 40,000 was an hour’s drive to the cathedral of New York sports. Yankee Stadium was a special destination for Fedroff.
For the Cleveland Indians’ 2012 minor league player of the year, the current Columbus Clipper (AAA) Fedroff is awaiting that first call to the major leagues, which would cap a steady rise throughout the Indians’ organization. Fedroff is an energetic, blue-collar, winner that embodies the winning methodology of the Indians’ organization.
Growing up in the Fedroff family, there was a steep in-house rivalry. His father, an Amtrak employee, is a staunch Boston Red Sox fan. As a kid, family outings to Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium were intense family duels. Occasionally, Fedroff’s aunt would take him to see the Yankees in Baltimore, but otherwise Fedroff followed his team ardently on television.
A couple of times a summer, the teenage Fedroff had a chance to watch his favorite Yankees in action – in person. But one particular Yankees player stood out – embodying the kind of player Fedroff aspired to be.
“My favorite was Paul O’Neill,” Fedroff recalled. “It was the way he played the game. He always had that intensity that I admired. He was fun to watch and he genuinely just wanted to win.”
It was the 8th grade for Fedroff, and he was making his annual pilgrimage to Yankee Stadium, when the beauty and future of the game began to dawn on Fedroff.
“I was getting to that age where I knew more about the game, the players, and it became something that I wanted to do, and wanted to be. I wanted to be a major league baseball player.”
“When my friend and I got close to the field, I wanted to commemorate my passion for the game, and the Yankees. We went early to watch BP and try to get a ball,” Fedroff recalled. “I was able to get the attention of an usher, and I asked him if he would scoop up some dirt for me. I took it home and put it in a Ziploc baggie. Before every game in 8th grade and through my whole amateur career, I would pinch out a piece of Yankee Stadium and put it in my back pocket.”
“It was my way of feeling like I was playing at Yankee Stadium.”
In most every trip to Yankee Stadium that ensued, Fedroff would clamor for more. Sometimes he’d hop over the railing to scoop it up on his own. Sometimes he’d beg a player to help. Anyway he could get his hands on more of the magical dirt of Yankee Stadium, he would.
It was Fedroff’s rite of passage, a behavior that perhaps only he really understood the full extent of the meaning. The symbolism was one element. But the dirt from the hallowed grounds of the Bronx acted as his motivation. His breath. His pulse.
So for years, each time Fedroff put his uniform on, he’d reach into his locker and subtly reach for another pinch of Yankee Stadium from that baggie, and each time it would remind him of the confluence of his childhood memories and his adult goals.
“I did it up until my last games in college,” Fedroff said, who helped lead UNC to the College World Series in 2007 and 2008. The ’07 Tar Heels finished runner-up to Oregon State, a CWS which saw Fedroff named to the All-Tournament Team. In 2008, the Heels finished one win away from the finals.
While the tradition was abandoned after Fedroff was drafted in 2008 in the 7th round by Cleveland, the mythical charm behind his possession of Yankee Stadium continues in his soul.
Even today, six years into his professional career, Fedroff still maintains a big bottle of Yankee Stadium dirt on his mantle back in his house in New Jersey. It’s one of the most special memories of Fedroff’s childhood.
That bottle is the metaphorical bridge transitioning Fedroff’s youth to adulthood.
He’s waiting for that moment when the phone rings, and his call is answered – that he’s going to the major leagues.
Fedroff then will have the chance to return that remaining Yankee Stadium dirt to its natural grounds.
(Photo courtesy: UNC Athletic Communications Department.)Tweet
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