When rookie catcher Logan O'Hoppe takes the field at Yankee Stadium this week as a visiting member of the Angels, it won't be his first time absorbing the atmosphere in the Bronx.
In fact, he was in attendance quite a bit before he was drafted out of high school and had to change his allegiance on a dime.
O'Hoppe, a West Islip native, was a born-and-raised Yankee fan who just missed the dynasty (born in Feb. 2000 if you want to feel old, but why would you want that?). Still, he came of age at the perfect time to appreciate the Yankees' magical 2009 run, featuring the Core Four coming together one last time to add a fifth ring to their legacy. That was a three-man rotation in October. Can you imagine that today?
The young catcher's life changed forever when he was selected in the 23rd round of the 2018 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, the team he'd fervently rooted against in the World Series almost nine years prior
But a few months before that draft, O'Hoppe was still able to go Incognito Mode in the stands. As it turns out, O'Hoppe was in attendance at April 6, 2018's game, a loss to the Baltimore Orioles that featured Manny Machado going deep off CC Sabathia in the top of the first inning.
O'Hoppe showed off his receiving skills from hundreds of feet away from the plate, snagging Machado's homer. He then showed off his cannon arm by chucking the ball back.
Yankees fan Logan O'Hoppe catching for Angels at Yankee Stadium this week
And, just two months later, it would've been pretty weird for a Phillies draftee to A) be in Yankee gear and B) be sitting all the way up there. Hopefully, the Phils treated him right when he visited Citizens Bank Park and didn't stick him in Machado Dinger Range.
Two years later, Yankee fans were given evidence that the Phillies were trying to make things special for O'Hoppe. As a relatively unknown prospect, mid-pandemic, the Philadelphia brass made sure he was on the roster when the team visited Yankee Stadium for a set of exhibition games prior to an Opening Day unlike any other.
The smile on O'Hoppe's face told the whole story and then some.
Since then, O'Hoppe has emerged as a legitimate top 100 prospect, and found himself shipped to the Angels in exchange for Brandon Marsh last season in what appears to be a win-win (after all, JT Realmuto isn't going anywhere).
The 23-year-old is hitting .244 thus far, but with serious power (four homers and an .833 OPS). Here's hoping he doesn't find a young catcher in the cheap seats this week.