Chief re-ups in "the house that Ruth built".
Yankee Stadium is a venue steeped in history and freedom, and on this cold, rainy day it will continue that tradition as Maldonado performs one of the most time-honored and significant acts in U.S. Navy history, "The reenlistment."
"I had originally planned on doing it at the World War II Memorial in Battery Park, but then when the Public Affairs Officer Bruce Howard, told me that a chance had come up to do it at Yankee Stadium, I said, 'That's excellent. We'll do it there,'" said Maldonado. "I'm a Yankee fan. I thought it was a great opportunity to go somewhere and reenlist in a place I like to go to."
As game time approached, Maldonado made his way through the Press Gate and took the long walk to Monument Park located behind the centerfield wall. The park, with its five red granite monuments and 19 plaques dedicated to the men who have made the Yankees legendary, is the only one of its kind in major league baseball.
"When I first started watching baseball in the '70s, it was all [Yankee catcher, Thurman] Munson for me. He was the epitome of the hard worker," said Maldonado.
Maldonado is himself a "hard worker," serving 18 years of distinguished service in the Navy, both afloat and ashore in a variety of jobs. During his time as Zone 5 Supervisor for Navy Recruiting District New York (NRDNY), in charge of five recruiting stations, Maldonado won six "Zone of the Month" awards and two "Zone of the Quarter" awards. Maldonado's zone is currently ranked the best zone in NRDNY, attaining 127 percent of its goal.
So, NRDNY, Commanding Officer, CDR T. Charles Davis, called attention to the group of shipmates in Monument Park, and administered the oath to Maldonado in a truly special ceremony. Special, not only because it's in Yankee Stadium, but because it will be Maldonado's last. The two-year reenlistment will bring Maldonado to retirement.
"I'll treasure this moment, that I was in Yankee Stadium the last time I reenlisted," he said. "This is memorable. I'll have this with me forever."
Maldonado, already content with how his event was going, was to have something even more exceptional happen to him this day. On his way to watch the game against the Toronto Blue Jays that night with free tickets provided by the Yankees, Maldonado ran into the Daily News' Director of Human Resources. Maldonado's summer white uniform brought him to the director's attention and news of the Chief's reenlistment prompted the director to give Maldonado a very special ticket--a seat directly behind the Yankee dug-out.
"It's incredible. It's the first time ever I got to see players so close. You can see the plays as they develop," said a beaming Maldonado. "It just makes the whole day."
The Yankees couldn't muster a win against the Blue Jays, losing 6-2 under a steady drizzle. But neither the weather nor the score could dampen Maldonado's experience.
"Nothing can rain on my parade today."
Story by JO1 John Harrington, assigned to the public affairs office, Navy Recruiting District New York