Sabathia beloved in his former hometownBy
Even though he was a 28-year-old ace on the free agent market, a rarity for sure, only the Yankees and the Brewers bid for CC Sabathia‘s services last winter. Perhaps teams were scared by the Yankees’ imposing six-year, $140 million opening offer, and figured they couldn’t afford Sabathia. There was still hope, though, that he’d take a discount to play for another team. The Brewers took a shot with their five-year, $100 million offer, but there was a greater fear that the hometown team would swoop in with an offer.
Despite pitching across the country in Cleveland for most of his career, Sabathia has remained active in his hometown of Vallejo, California, about 30 miles northwest of San Francisco. Because of his family and community ties, the connection to the Giants was inevitable. Who wouldn’t want to pitch in front of their hometown crowd? But the Giants never made a serious offer, and the Yankees increased theirs. Sabathia opted to play on the opposite coast.
The residents of Vallejo aren’t spiteful, though. Sure, they’d love to see Sabathia pitching in black and orange, but they’re happy for his success no matter where he pitches. Carolyn Jones of the San Francisco Chronicle captures the town’s love for Sabathia.
“Everybody here loves CC,” said Tony Hodges, president of North Vallejo Little League, where Sabathia learned to play baseball. “His smile, his leadership – it’s infectious. He can ride around here and he’ll never get hassled.”
The article describes CC’s involvement over Thanksgiving weekend. Vallejo, like many towns in California, is bankrupt. Sabathia is doing his part to help raise money for programs that, out of necessity, the town had to cut. The town will honor him tonight at the Mayor’s Image dinner.
Now (as Ben noted to me earlier), if only the residents of Vallejo can convince Sabathia to not opt out of his contract…