MLB Spring Training 2012: NY Yankees' Joe Girardi Makes Grieving Fan's Day

Bill Ford@billfordwritesCorrespondent IIIMarch 4, 2012

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 03:  Joe Girardi #28 of the New York Yankees stands on the field during warm ups prior to Game Three of the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on October 3, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

During an away spring training game in Clearwater, Fla., New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a thoughtful gesture that a grieving fan will never forget.

Behind the first-base dugout was a man holding a large white poster loaded with photographs and words that said, "Please remember Steven E. Smith."

Girardi knew that this was something very different, so he climbed up on a bench to ask the man holding the sign what it meant.

The man holding the sign was Matthew Smith. His son was a huge Yankees fan and was killed in a motor vehicle accident in December 2010 at the age of 24.

Girardi must have felt a heaviness in his heart as he listened to Mr. Smith talk about his son and that terrible day.

Mr. Smith was wearing his son's CC Sabathia jersey that day. Girardi signed the poster and invited Mr. Smith to come down onto the field and watch the team practice with him.

His son who was killed, Steven Smith, was an aspiring sports broadcaster who apparently had a large Twitter following. His hope was to use his Twitter account to help him launch his career.

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Girardi took the poster from Mr. Smith to have the entire Yankees roster sign it for him back at George M. Steinbrenner Field, promising to get the poster back to him.

Girardi said, ""I just thought it would be nice to bring him out, He's been through a lot in the last year and a half. You can never imagine what people are going through when something like that happens."

Steven Smith was buried wearing his Derek Jeter jersey, which was his favorite. Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson was one of the players who went to the funeral to offer condolences.

Mr. Smith was quoted as saying that his son would have given his life to be on the field with the Yankees. He thought that it was ironic that he was on the field in his place.

Baseball provides us with all sorts of stories all year long. Many are about triumphant come-from-behind victories. Some are about record-breaking moments. This is one of those stories that hits you hard right in the heart and stays with you.

Joe Girardi didn't just make Mr. Smith's day. He made the day for all of baseball with such a simple gesture. Thank you, Joe.