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Middletown Times Herald-Record


April 10, 2004

Crosby on road to success

By Justin Rodriguez

NEW YORK Bubba Crosby put his head down and started rounding the bases.

Time to enjoy his first home run in his first Yankee at-bat. Crosby proudly touched first base and second. By the time he reached third, Crosby realized something.

"I thought I was jogging," Crosby said. "But when I hit third I saw Hideki Matsui right in front of me. I knew it was time to slow down a little."

So Crosby broke stride, took a deep breath and enjoyed the moment. Still, this is all so hard to believe. Acquired in the salary dump deal that sent Robin Ventura to the Dodgers last year, Crosby was a longshot to make the team out of spring training.

He made it as a reserve outfielder. And this kid might stick.

"He did it in spring training and now he's doing it in the regular season," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "I'm so happy for him."

Crosby's two-run, pinch-hit home run came in the ninth inning off Chicago reliever Shingo Takatsu. The 27-year-old said he's been living a dream since joining a team that is dotted with stars such as Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. He beamed when discussing the scene in the dugout after the homer getting mobbed by Jeter and hitting coach Don Mattingly.

"You feel like a kid being around these guys, really," said Crosby, the first player to hit a homer in his first Yankee at-bat since Marcus Thames went deep off Arizona's Randy Johnson on June 10, 2002. "It's just something to be out there with those guys. They've been great."

The Yankees were able to retrieve Crosby's home run ball. He said he planned on giving it to his dad to put it in his office. Crosby never even got the ball he earned his first hit with while playing in Los Angeles.

"I wanted to get Bubba an at-bat, so I (pinch-hit him for Bernie (Williams)," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He had a big smile on his face. It was the highlight of the day."