New York Yankees’ minor leaguer is helping fight COVID-19 in his hometown

Andres Chavez
New York Yankees
Oct 16, 2017; Bronx, NY, USA; An view of the a field logo before game three of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down. Lots of countries are still in quarantine, thousands of people have died, global economy has taken a huge hit, and even professional sports are halted in most places. MLB had to cancel the start of the season and we don’t know when we will see the New York Yankees play again. All parties involved are still negotiating.

During the waiting game, lots of people have decided to embrace projects to help their respective communities. A young New York Yankees minor leaguer named Montana Semmel is one of them.

Semmel is a 36th round draft pick by the Yankees out of Westhill High School in Stamford, last year. He has friends who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19, and he knows that things at hospitals are bad.

He has a cousin named Christin Lucia, working as a head nurse at the Stamford Hospital. “It’s bad up here,” Semmel, who is with his family in Stamford, said last week to the New York Post in a phone interview.

And, as it turns out, Semmel himself could have gotten the virus at Yankees camp. The first professional baseball player to contract the disease, Denny Larrondo, was his catch partner.

Semmel, given the severity of the situation, decided to raise money for Stamford Health’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund, using his Twitter account to promote. “It’s my hometown,” Semmel said. “I feel like it’s the right thing to do.”

He wasn’t around in Yankees’ camp when the first positive test came out

Semmel experienced a blessing in disguise when the scout who signed him, Kelly Rodman, died of cancer and he asked the Yankees permission to leave camp to go to her funeral.

“The first time I saw Kelly was during my sophomore year of my high school,” Semmel said. “She was actually watching one of my buddies on the high school team and she noticed me.”

Semmel had Tommy John surgery his junior year, and the Post said that when he returned for his senior season, Rodman showed up again. “Kelly called me every week, asking, ‘How’s your arm healing?’” he said. “She was there with me the whole ride.” After the draft, Semmel continued, “She would call me every other day, telling me to sign with the Yankees,” which he did.

“I really had a close relationship with her,” Semmel said of Rodman. “She changed my life by drafting me, She meant everything to me.”

The fact that he went away from camp to attend the services meant that he wasn’t around when Larronfo tested positive.