SHOUT OUT: A former Washington Township resident got a standing ovation from the New York Yankees as he set off this morning from home plate at spring training in Tampa on a 1,200-mile walk to Yankee Stadium to raise $25,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“The Yankees are such a class act,” 65-year-old Richard Albero told Michael Kay on ESPN Radio while in the 12th mile of his walk this afternoon.
Each mile is named after players who’ve worn the pinstripes, beginning in 1913 — “even if it was only one day,” said Albero, a math teacher who retired to Dunedin. Not all of them will be represented: more than 1,600 players have been Yankees.
Each of the last 10 miles is named for one of the players whom Albero — a father of three who collects baseball memorabilia and cards and participates in various volunteer activities — considers the all-time greatest Yanks ( see below ).
The key to his plan: “putting one foot in front of the other.” He trained for several months, topping out at 22 miles in a day and says he’s been eating well.
Albero’s brother, Michael, and some friends will alternate shuttling him to hotels and back each day.
Albero plans on walking 15 miles a day on local roads (no interstates), breaking on Sundays, before eventually ramping up to 20 per day.
He hopes to hit home plate in the Bronx on Memorial Day, when the Bombers are scheduled to play the Kansas City Royals. That’s less than three months from now.
“I just think they don’t get the recognition they deserve,” Albero said of the wounder soldiers he aims to help. “Some come back with no arms, no limbs.”
He also is honoring his nephew, Gary Albero, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks.
“At first, I thought most people were getting a buzz on this notoriety,” he wrote yesterday. “But then something funny happen during one of my training walks, I realized my friends and family were seeing a part of me in themselves and saying ‘Go For It!’ ”
He said he will think of them “every time I get a blister, my feet and my back begins to hurt, close calls with cars, frustration on how broke I’m going to be. Through our strengths, I will smile and take the next step north.”
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi brought the entire team to home plate at George M. Steinbrenner Field this morning, as Tampa temperatures broke 80 degrees. They gave Albero some gifts and the standing O before he set off.
“How cool is that?” Albero said.
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Donations are broken out into:
Base on balls: $20
The final 10 Yankees are “home runs”: You choose your donation.
To donate, go to: RichardsYankeesWalk.org
PHOTO: Courtesy Richard Albero
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