Yankees Dustin Fowler: A dream deferred, but never to be denied

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Yankees looked on helplessly last night as one of their Baby Bombers tried twice to stand up before collapsing to the ground. Today, he lies in an unfamiliar hospital in a strange city vowing that he is ready to begin the journey to Yankee Stadium all over again.

The Yankees were not a happy band of ballplayers, to begin with, last night, having sat through a two-hour rain delay with a flight to Houston following the game that would bring them to their hotel by dawn on Friday at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the parents of Dustin Fowler were setting out from their home in Dexter, Georgia to watch their son fulfill his dream of playing for the New York Yankees against the Houston Astros, in a game that he was scheduled to play in tonight.Their journey would be a time for them to recall their son’s first inkling that with hard work, determination, and a bit of luck, he would live his dream of donning the Pinstripes.

And maybe they brought the family album with them to sift through as those first pictures of Dustin in a Little League uniform came to life for them again. And Dad would insist on boring his wife with his repetitive tales of taking Dustin duck hunting for the first time.

More from Yanks Go Yard

Only to find out they needed to reset the GPS and head North to where their son lay in a hospital bed awaiting surgery on his shattered knee, and possibly, his dreams.

But thanks to some superb reporting by the New York Post, we learn this afternoon that the surgery was a success, and Fowler remains upbeat, even joking that he looks forward to some serious duck hunting with his Dad in a few weeks.

Only 22, Fowler told the Post:

"“I don’t let a lot of things get to me, so I’ll be able to bounce back,’’ he said with quiet confidence, “and we got a good group of guys I’ll be able to work with and get me on my feet as quickly as possible.’’"

To be sure, the Yankees will have a lot to say about Fowler’s rehab and when he “gets on his feet again.” But there is nothing that replaces the boyish enthusiasm of a young man who has worked so hard to reach this level. And now, he is no longer alone in his journey. Instead, he has an entire team and the Yankees organization behind him.

Fowler spoke to the Post about the outpouring of love and concern for him:

"“I’ve heard from everyone,’’ Fowler said. “They’re all praying for me. I get along with everyone, it’s a great group of guys, obviously me and Tyler Wade have been together the whole time, so I’m pretty close with him. Everyone there is very good, very welcoming. There are not really any circles on this team.’’"

Numerous times today, I found myself thinking about Fowler and the horrific twist of fate he suffered last night. And I was just going to let it go, but here I am pounding the keyboard one more time.

And often, we might see these guys as robots and super-human for all the things they can do and we can only dream about doing, on a baseball field. But the reality is that they are human, just like the rest of us. And if nothing else, Fowler’s story is about the frailty and unpredictability of life as we live it through our journeys, wherever they take us.

And every once in a while, we are given a reminder that it is men who play this game. Recall, for instance, the scene at Citi Field when Wilmer Flores heard that he had been traded away from the Mets to the Brewers, only to subsequently learn that the deal had fallen through.

Overcome with emotion when he received a standing ovation from Mets fans, he was then observed crying on the field as we see in this video:

And while some talk about bat flips, staring down a pitcher, and dances around the bases following a home run as displays of emotion, I get that. But the real emotion attached to the game of baseball is what we saw on the field in Chicago last night.

The emotion on the face of Joe Girardi as tried to console his fallen player, the reaction of Aaron Judge saying that the whole episode “made him sick”, and the response of fans who dropped an atomic bomb on Twitter, that’s the emotion usually buried behind the steel walls of stoicism major leaguer’s carry with them.

Soon, perhaps as early as tonight, Fowler, along with his family and the rest of us, will watch his team take the field to play their 78th game of the 2017 season. And it would be only fitting that the Yankees put a whopping on the Astros as a way of cementing the notion that, “We’ve got your back, Dustin.”