Some youngsters at Camp Simcha got a baseball star’s autograph on a jersey last week, others on a baseball cap.
And for some kids at the Catskills camp for children with cancer and other blood-related diseases, a visit by New York Yankees ace pitcher CC Sabathia was a heady experience.
The lefty, on the disabled list since undergoing season-ending knee surgery last month, spent a few hours with the campers, talking with them, inspiring them, signing autographs for them (including on bald pates, hair being a victim of chemotherapy), and showing them how to throw a baseball.
“We know,” some of the campers told their all-star visitor, “what it’s like to be on the disabled list.”
Sabathia, who has established a nonprofit, “PitCCh in Foundation,” with his wife Amber to raise the confidence of inner-city kids through sports and educational programs, donated his time at Camp Simcha.
His appearance was a surprise, said Melanie Kwestel, camp spokeswoman. “The kids went bananas. He talked to every single kid. He made the kids feel special.”
In other words, the pitcher hit a home run in Glen Spey, the Sullivan County town where the camp is located.
Sabathia posted a picture of his Camp Simcha visit on his Instagram feed; there’s a report on the visit on his website, ccsabathia52.com.
“He looked like he was having a great time,” Kwestel said.
“When someone at the top of the field like CC Sabathia makes times for our campers, it helps them realize they are not alone in their fight,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, executive vice president of Chai Lifeline, which runs the 27-year-old camp.
Counselors and a few campers presented Sabathia a gift plate they had fashioned the previous night. On one side was the Yankees log; on the other, a statement that said, “You made us feel better, we hope you feel better.”