Yankees catcher Chris Stewart hobnobbed with baseball fans in Bellmore at an exciting meet-and-greet event on Sunday at Living Legends Memorabilia.
Stewart signed photos, baseballs and bats, posed for photographs and cheerfully chatted up the Yankee die-hards who turned out to meet him, both young and old.
Living Legends owner Warren Heller said that autograph signings are something that he holds on a semi-regular basis at his establishment.
“We have signings about three or four times a year, different players, different sports,” he said. “We get in touch with them through agents. Sometimes I contact them, sometimes they contact me. Other times, it’s by word of mouth and somebody knows somebody who knows somebody.”
Chris Stewart said that he loves events such as these, where he actually gets the chance to talk to fans casually in a one-on-one environment.
“At the games, we really don’t get much time to interact with the fans,” he said. “So it’s really cool to come out, especially to a mom and pop place like Living Legends and meet the fans face-to-face and interact with them, talk and sign a few things.”
The signing had a special distinction for Stewart, as the night before he had hit his fourth career home run; his very first as a Yankee.
“Any time you hit a home run it’s pretty cool,” he said. “Ask any little kid, and they want to hit a home run as a major leaguer and there’s no better feeling in baseball than doing that. And to be able to do it in Yankee Stadium in pinstripes was probably the pinnacle of my career so far.”
Stewart began his career as a pro back 2002. He originally played for the Yankees in 2008 before being traded around to various other teams, including the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants, before being traded back to the Yankees in April of this year.
“Obviously, they brought me back for a reason, and I came back with open arms,” he said. “There’s no better team in sports to play for, as far as the history and the professionalism that goes with the Yankees, there’s no better organization to be a part of and there’s no better fans to play for. It’s truly an honor, and hopefully it’ll last the rest of my career.”
Kevin Molloy of Merrick makes no bones about it, he is a big Yankee fan and made a point of coming down to Living Legends to meet Chris Stewart.
“It’s always nice to talk to them and to shoot the breeze about the past and the future,” he said. “They’re always very receptive, I must say. I’ve met almost all of the current Yankees so far, Jeter, A-Rod and now Chris Stewart.”
C.J. Grasso, a young man who came all the way from Lindenhurst to meet Chris Stewart, has been playing baseball himself for the past two years.
“That’s why I’m a Chris Stewart fan, because we’re both catchers,” he said. “It’s a really fun part of the game, and it was cool to be able to talk about it with Chris today and get his autograph on my bat.”
The turnout for Stewart was good, but regardless of how many people show up for a signing at his store, Heller says it’s always worth the effort for his customers.
“I always like to see the smiles on the kid’s faces when they see an athlete or someone that they look up to,” he said. “To me, that’s very important. So, even if the signing isn’t totally successful, it’s still worth it to do something nice for my customers.”