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Elliott Stern

Righetti High School’s Matt Sauer was selected by the New York Yankees in the second round of Monday’s annual Major League Baseball draft.

Assistant Sports Editor Joe Bailey is ecstatic.

Joe is a die-hard Yankees fan, even though he was born and raised right here in Santa Maria, graduating from both Santa Maria High and Fresno State.

But sports writers Kenny Cress (a Riverside native) and Lorenzo J. Reyna (Cabrillo High and Fresno State grad) are lifelong Angels’ fans. I’m a Red Sox fan which makes it hard for us to ever root for the Yankees.

Born in Boston and raised in the seaside community of Hull, just south of Boston, I’ve got the Sox’s 2004 World Series banner hanging above my desk at the Times.

I also have the banners from the Sox’s other two championships, a commemorative coin with official dirt from the Fenway Park infield in the middle, countless hats, T-shirts and other keepsakes (and all five of the Patriots Super Bowl winning banners) but it would be too much even for me to have them all displayed in the office.

As a kid, my uncle Johnny Stack worked as a manager in the Red Sox’s concessions department. He was there for decades and took  my older brothers and me to countless games back in the 1950s and 60s.

Back then, the Sox had the game’s best hitter, Ted Williams, and not much else.

The hated Yankees had Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Johnny Mize, Jerry Coleman and many others — more superstar talent than the Golden State Warriors.

While I rooted against the Yankees, I loved their players.

Mantle and Ford led an ongoing party.

Berra was the best interview.

He said the weirdest things that people still quote today – “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” “It's like déjà vu all over again,” and everyone’s favorite “It ain't over till it's over.”

Who else inspired a cartoon series?

They were great characters, awesome players and World Series champions six times in the 1950s.

The Red Sox — they regularly finished at or near the bottom of the eight-team American League.

So can I root for Sauer?

Sure.

We all root for Cabrillo grad Danny Duffy and the K.C. Royals whenever he pitches.

I’ve rooted for relief pitcher Justin Wilson (another Fresno State alum) since he was called up by the Pirates, traded to the Yankees and later traded to the Tigers. Wilson’s mom, Johnna, is a longtime friend of my wife Marily and me.

I know it will be the same with Matt.

And, as with Duffy and other local baseball players, we’ll follow his progress through the minor leagues and later when, we are sure, he’ll be invited to join “The Show.”

All of us here in the Santa Maria Times Sports Department hope that he’ll progress quickly through the minors and have a superstar major league career.

Good luck, Matt. While I’ve always been a bit sour on the Yankees, I could never be sour on Sauer.

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Senior Sports Reporter