The collectors who pieced together Upper Deck’s Yankee Stadium Legacy set enjoyed the fruits of their labor.
They traveled to the Big Apple from as far away as Panama, Sacramento, Little Rock, Pensacola and Largo, Florida. Five Yankee Stadium Legacy (YSL) contest winners spent a memorable day in New York recently, meeting Yankees team captain Derek Jeter. All were able to piece together the company’s enormous YSL baseball card insert set from 2008 which chronicled every Yankees home game ever played at the old Yankee Stadium – each card sports a unique box score – starting in 1923.
Each of the five collectors not only put together the gigantic, 6,661-card collection of inserts, but they did it before the April 30, 2009, deadline. Collector Leo Wiznitzer made things extra interesting by sending in his set on the final day of eligibility. “I wasn’t even aware that there was a grand prize involved,” he explained, “not until about ten days before the contest ended.”
But when he heard about the chance to not only meet Jeter, but to also have lunch with the 11th Yankees Team Captain in history, it was too good to pass up. “Mariano Rivera’s actually my favorite Yankee player, but Jeter is such a terrific guy,” Wiznitzer admitted.
On Tuesday, June 16, Wiznitzer, who resides in Panama, along with Tommy Baxter from Little Rock, Chuck Sauter from Pensacola, Kent Hayes from Sacramento, and Josh Adams from Largo, all got to have lunch with Jeter at the NYY Steak restaurant, which is located inside the new Yankee Stadium. Afterward, they watched batting practice on the field and then saw the Yankees play the Washington Nationals from box seats up the third-base line.
“This was even better than I expected,” said Hayes, who brought along his eight-year-old son, Everett. “Jeter was super.”
Starting at 1 p.m., with Yankees Magazine on hand and the YES (Yankees Entertainment & Sports) Network filming for a small feature it plans to run this week, each of the five winners were introduced to Jeter, who according to Upper Deck, seemed excited to meet his guests. Jeter also got a close-up look at the Yankee Stadium Legacy Collection set Upper Deck had on display at NYY Steak. “Can I get this, with the cards?” Jeter asked with a smile.
After some personal grip-and-grins were taken, the five winners and their guests sat down to lunch with Jeter and a casual question-and-answer session commenced. Jeter admitted to the group that he "signed my very first autograph while I was in high school, which I thought was kind of strange at the time.”
Following a pair of short interviews with YES and Yankees Magazine, Jeter relocated his seat to make his virtual world debut at UpperDeckU.com, Upper Deck’s recently unveiled online world for kids. More than 300 kids from across the country signed up to ask the star shortstop various questions and he knocked out hundreds of answers with the help of Upper Deck staff.
Jeter signed a few select items for the YSL contest winners, and then made his way toward the clubhouse. The YSL winners were then treated to a private tour of the new Yankee Stadium, which included a visit to Monument Park behind the centerfield wall. Jeter – on his way to the dugout after shagging flies – stopped by and signed more autographs for Upper Deck’s lucky attendees as well as for some loud Yankee fans nearby.
The game ended on a high note as the home team won, 5-3, and Rivera notched his 15th save of the season. And even though Jeter went 0-for-3 with a walk, and left the game with a nagging ankle injury in the seventh inning, the evening was a memorable one for the winners.
“We had a great time,” said Hayes. “I don’t think we could have asked for more.”