On Wednesday, June 26, ten year old Madison Shatzkes of New Rochelle took the field at Yankee Stadium as part of a pre-game ceremony. Madison, also known as Maddy, was a “New York Daily News” essay contest winner. The contest asked kids ages 8-14 to write an essay explaining what ‘Yankee Tradition’ means to them. Maddy, who attends Westchester Day School, was one of nine Yankee fans to win.
In her winning submission, Maddy explained that “Yankee Tradition means to me connecting the past to the present.” Maddy expanded on how her great-grandfather immigrated to America from Poland in 1928. Living in the Bronx, he immediately became a Yankee fan. “He told us there were many days were he would leave school early to go to a game. He told us he saw some of the greatest players, and some of the best games ever played.” Maddy added that her grandfather may be a bigger fan than his father and raised his seven children, including Maddy’s father, to be Yankee fans. “The Yankee tradition has been passed to me, my sister and my brother.”
“It sounded cool to go on the field so I thought why not try,” said Maddy on why she entered. “It meant a lot, especially since I am such a big Yankees fan. It was nice to see my dad so excited. I think he wanted to go on the field more than me.” Maddy added, “I enjoyed seeing the Yankees in person and high-fiving and fist- bumping them. It was also cool getting a ball from Gleyber Torres and watching them have a dance party in the dugout before the game.”
Maddy’s father, Matt Shatzkes, detailed his daughter’s entry. “We saw contest notifications in the “Daily News.” Despite what we figured would be a long shot, Madison was our only child eligible to enter the contest based on age, and we figured we would give it a try.” Matt added, “We are big Yankees fans and our entire family (both immediate and beyond) all enjoy watching on TV, attending games and playing baseball. We encouraged Madison, who really enjoys reading and writing, to write the essay so that she could try to make the connection between the Yankees and baseball and our frequent family activity. To further prove this point, Madison actually wrote the essay with her bubbe while watching a Yankees game.”
“We are both so proud of her. We expected that the odds of winning would be low, but she, nonetheless, still sat down on a Sunday afternoon to write the essay and give it her best shot. It’s a valuable lesson to her and her siblings that you have to be in it to win it, and if you are going to do anything in life always put your best foot forward and give it your best shot. It was also great that, as part of the prize, we received four tickets to the game. Maddy then shared this experience with her younger sister and brother, Emma and Nathan.” Matt added that, as Yankee fans, “Maddy’s win further solidified our family’s love of baseball and especially the Yankees. It was great for Maddy to meet her favorite players, see the effort and preparation they put into the game, and also connect with them on her level.”
“Seeing Maddy on the field,” Matt revealed, “was unbelievable for us as a family, even though she was the only one of us on the field. We were happy, proud, excited and a bit jealous. When we saw her run onto the field next to Didi Gregorious and DJ LeMahieu, she had a huge smile on her face. We truly appreciated the awesomeness of this once in a lifetime experience when we saw her on the jumbotron standing next to her favorite players.”
Matt noted, “Madison was the youngest winner. She was also the smallest in size. We also got tickets to the game which the Yankees won in a walk-off. Didi hit a solo home run for the Yankees to score the team’s winning run in the bottom on the 9th.”
In addition to appearing on the field, tickets for her family to the game and the signed baseball, Maddy also received a swag bag of Yankees’ collectibles, including bobble-head dolls.
“I was so excited that I got up and got dressed at six in the morning and was ready to go,” revealed Maddy. “Let’s go Yankees!”
By Judy Berger