A Bronx Tale: Bronx native Andrew Velazquez is living out his childhood dream, reminding us about the silent majority of Yankees Fans which exist

The Yankees have not lost a game in a major league ballpark in nearly two weeks. They are winners of 10 straight, their last loss coming in the cornfields of Iowa. This turnaround has been out of a movie.

Andrew Velazquez is ready for his own movie, a remake of “A Bronx Tale.”

Velazquez, the 27-year-old shortstop from Morris Park, is living out his childhood dream after being called up two weeks ago.

The boy from the Bronx is making waves in pinstripes.

This past week, he drove in four runs and flashed some leather as the Yankees swept the Red Sox to take the top spot in the wild-card race. He’s contributing in meaningful games against historical rivals in the midst of a playoff hunt, all in front of a hometown crowd.

It’s always heartwarming to see a truly local guy like Velazquez fulfill what so many city kids can only dream of.

He grew up idolizing Derek Jeter and attended Fordham Prep, about half an hour north of Yankee Stadium on the Bronx campus of Fordham University (the alma mater of Yankees announcer Michael Kay).

Now he is manning the position on the very same dirt his childhood idol spent 20 years. You can’t help but smile seeing dreams turn to reality.

Before he made his Yankees debut against the Royals in Kansas City, he said, “This is something I’ve thought about. I kind of feel like I manifested it since I was a child, so it’s amazing to me. … This is where my love for baseball began.”

When he found out he was being called up, he texted his parents because he was too excited to speak to them. “I didn’t want to get on the phone and scream,” Velazquez said. “I’ve told them before, it kind of feels like my debut all over again.” (Velazquez is crashing on his parents’ couch during the current homestand, which might be the most native New Yorker thing about him.)

But as Velazquez reps the Bronx and the wistful dreams of Yankees fans everywhere, he’s also representing the millions of Yankees fans who tend to go unseen.

The popular image of Yankees fans is either men in suits in high-priced suites or suburban families from New Jersey, Westchester and Connecticut. It tends to be people who would never set foot in the Bronx were it not the home of the Yankees. Those fans surely exist, and more often than not, those are the fans who can afford tickets to a game. But the people who fill the stands don’t always look like the people who live outside the stadium walls.

That image belies the millions of New Yorkers who grew up in the boroughs, particularly those from Harlem, Upper Manhattan, who got to games not by car or Metro North but by walking over the Macombs Dam Bridge, passing Rucker Park and the old Polo Grounds site along the way. It belies the millions-plus Bronx residents who might never see the inside of the billion-dollar stadium they helped pay for, but for whom this team encapsulates a part of their soul.

It highlights the inherent contradiction of what community means for the richest team in the country’s poorest congressional district and reflects a flat understanding of the most diverse city in the country.

The Yankees proudly tout their corporate image, which, to be sure, reflects the monied interests of financiers and real estate developers whose names adorn Manhattan skyscrapers.

But the engine that keeps the city going isn’t fueled by the millionaires who return to their houses after the markets close at 4 p.m. It’s fueled by the workers, most of whom we’ve realized in the past year are essential, who grind every day in jobs that keep our industries running. They’re the real silent majority.

But with Velazquez shining, at least in the intermediate as the Yankees wait on Gleyber Torres return form the IL, the fanbase that is often the silent majority has been heard.

There are more people for whom this team represents the struggle of the city and the ever-enduring nature of its residents. The pride most of us feel in our city and our team doesn’t stem from the shops along Madison Avenue or the Michelin-starred restaurants downtown. It comes from being one of the few places in America where density and diversity are a virtue.

Those values were surely tested in the past year of pandemic living, but we continue to survive. And we do so not just in the neighborhoods most attractive to wealthy transplants but also in the forgotten areas run by generations of families whose restaurants and bodegas will never make a Thrillist list.

So how does any of this relate to Velazquez and the Yankees?

I’ll ask how does it not. Velazquez is the metaphoric “bodega” that did make it to the prestigious level of the shops on Madison Ave, as he is making big time plays for the Yankees in the heat of a pennant run.

The path to the show may not be ideal for the 27 year old, but the work and wait to get here was well worth it.

When he homered at Yankees Stadium, in the Bronx, with his family and community in the stands, Velazquez admitted everything before that moment felt irrelevant. In that moment he truly felt like he made it. That his childhood dream had become reality.

You can call it a script too good to believe, but sometimes the stars align that way, bringing to light stories and ideas that had been suppressed without a reason to discuss them.

The movie, A Bronx Tale is a masterpiece.

Maybe that is why we are enjoying this non related sequel staring Andrew Velazquez so much.

The duration of the film may not be much longer with Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela set to return soon. But Velazquez, with his play, energy and defense may find himself a utility role as the Yankees have their eyes set on the division and ultimately the World Series.

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