Yankees: Passing of Derby hits close to home; Ryan Dempster the tool
Derby, the official bat dog of the Yankees affiliate — Trenton Thunder, recently lost his battle with cancer. An outpouring of condolences spread across the internet following the passing of the lovable nine-year-old Golden Retriever.
Baseball and dogs. It doesn’t get much better, especially when the two coincide. So back in 2008 when the Yankees Double-A club introduced a two-year-old Golden Retriever as its newest bat dog, the Trenton Thunder had an immediate hit on their paws… I mean hands.
Derby, short for ‘Home Run Derby,’ was a second-generation bat and ball retriever, as his father Chase, worked the family trade up until his passing in 2013 at the age of 13. Four-year-old Rookie, Derby’s son, will continue in his father’s stead in 2018, as the Thunder celebrate their 25th anniversary.
In honor or Derby’s memory, Jan 26, which would have been his 10th birthday, has been designated as Derby Day. Fans are being asked to submit photos and stories about the beloved dog on social media.
Thunder General Manager, Jeff Hurley released a message of sadness to MiLB.com.
"“His presence at our games and in the community was massive and every person and dog that interacted with him will miss him dearly,” Hurley said."
The news hit me especially hard, as I too lost a beloved animal in November. Bella, 14, was much more than a pet. She was family. An indelible part of my world that I honestly don’t know how or when I’ll be able to mend.
Anytime I’d sit on the couch, ready to watch the Yanks for the ensuing 2 1/2 hours or so, Bella was right by my side. Opening Day this April won’t be the same without that beautiful part poodle, part cocker spaniel sleeping on my leg.
If you’re a dog person, then you understand where I’m coming from.
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Moving on will not be easy; especially when buffoons like Ryan Dempster take to MLB Network and make a mockery of an exceptional being.
As reported by the NY Post, Dempster, who spent much of his 16-year career with the Marlins and Red Sox, decided Tuesday’s episode of ‘Intentional Talk’ would be a good time to poke fun at Derby’s passing.
"“On a brighter side, the pace of play will pick up a little there in Trenton, they’ve been working on that in the minor leagues,” a stone-faced Dempster said."
But the former pitcher who was lit up like a Roman candle for Team Canada during the recent World Baseball Classic wasn’t done yet.
"“The bats are going to get back a little bit quicker. He was running with four legs, and two legs will be able to take it back with hands, instead of using his mouth.”"
I could care less that Dempster later apologized, the damage was done. The firestorm of criticism Dempster received on Twitter is the least of what he deserves. What a gigantic tool!
From now on, ignoring ignoramus remarks will be the order of the day.
The truth is Derby lived a wonderful life — he was important to so many people, many of which he never got to sniff. The subject of a 2015 ESPN ‘E:60’ feature, Derby was a busy boy.
From being an integral part of the Thunder’s outreach program — to playing basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters and even being a close friend to Yankees legend Reggie Jackson, Derby will forever be synonymous with family and baseball.
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The one thing I can take in solace is that all dogs go to heaven. Just do me a favor, Derby, say hello to my Bella for me. Until we meet again.