For family members and friends of Auburn native Tim Locastro, they won't forget where they were in the afternoon of July 31, 2019.
It was already a memorable day. Locastro, a 2010 Auburn High School graduate who starred at Ithaca College and is now an outfielder with the Arizona Diamondbacks, made his Yankee Stadium debut against the team he rooted for as a child. He started in right field and hit a double in the sixth inning.
How could it get any better?
Locastro had one more at-bat. He led off the ninth inning for the Diamondbacks against Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr. Cortes Jr. threw a fastball that painted the corner for strike one. The next pitch, a changeup, was in the same spot. Locastro swung — and connected.
About 390 feet later, Locastro had his first major league home run.
On the one-year anniversary of that milestone, The Citizen interviewed family members and friends about watching Locastro play at Yankee Stadium, his major league success and the home run.
The Diamondbacks played a two-game series against the Yankees. Locastro didn't play in the first game on July 30. The final game of the series was at 1:05 p.m. July 31. That morning, Locastro told The Citizen he would be in the starting lineup.
It was an exciting development for dozens of family members and friends who made the trip to the Bronx for either one or both of the games. Locastro started in right field and batted ninth.
There's an important part of the story to note: The Locastros and their relatives are diehard Yankees fans. Locastro grew up a Yankees fan, too. After the games last year, Colleen Locastro shared a photo of Tim as a kid. In the photo, he was at a Yankees game wearing Yankees gear.
Now, he was at Yankee Stadium as a player. Even though he wasn't wearing pinstripes, it was still a dream come true.
Colleen Locastro (Tim's mother): I had chills. Almost every inning, I just felt like I was going to cry. He loved the Yankees. Most kids around here do. But for him to ever play in Yankee Stadium? We dream about it, but do dreams ever come true? It's just amazing.
Andrew Chadderdon (one of Tim's best friends): For as long as he's been able to walk he's been the biggest Yankees fan there is.
Eddie Charles (family friend and Tim's youth baseball coach): It was absolutely incredible. I've coached Timmy since Pony League. He's played with my son. (Charles' son, Eddie, played with Locastro and is now a scout with the Pittsburgh Pirates.) It was just unreal seeing him play at Yankee Stadium.
Locastro made some defensive plays. At the plate, he flied out to center in his first at-bat. In the fourth, he came to the plate with the bases loaded. He hit a sharp grounder, but Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela made a backhanded stop to rob him of a run-producing hit.
In the sixth inning, Locastro hit a double to left-center field. In his first game at Yankee Stadium, he got a hit. But he wasn't done.
His final at-bat was in the ninth inning. The Diamondbacks trailed 7-3 and Locastro, as the lead-off hitter, wanted to spark a comeback. On the second pitch of the at-bat, he hit a solo home run — the first of his major league career.
Tim Locastro: I blacked out when that happened. I was more happy for all my family and friends that they were all there because they got to experience it firsthand and really enjoy it. But at the time, for me, I remember we were losing that game so I couldn't go in the dugout being all hootin' and hollerin' and excited. I just wanted us to come back. We ended up bringing the tying run to the plate, but we fell short. (The Yankees won 7-5.)
Colleen Locastro: At the game, my husband (the elder Tim Locastro) can't sit still. He was all over the stadium. But it just happened at about the eighth inning, my husband and I met up with (Eddie Charles and his wife, Linda). The four of us went and sat together. And weren't we all sitting together when Timmy hit the home run.
Charles: We're sitting on the third-base side. We're relaxing — me, Colleen, Timmy and my wife, Linda. Obviously we're amped up because he's up to bat. But he hit the ball. I've thrown batting practice for thousands of pitches and when he hit the ball, I knew right away this has got a chance to be a home run. So I started punching his father. I'm like, "I think he got it! I think he got it!" When it went over the fence, we went absolutely ballistic. We were out of our minds. All the Yankee fans around us are looking at us like we're a bunch of lunatics ... We've been to lots of Yankee games. You know how the Yankee fans are. But we turned them real quick and they were Locastro fans in that moment. It just gives me goosebumps.
Tracy Poole (Colleen's sister and Tim's aunt): Honestly, we were thrilled and just truly proud of him. Just being able to see him live out of his childhood dream to play in the major leagues and then to see him actually hit his first major league home run at Yankee Stadium. It was a special moment for all of us, including him ... I was sitting in the left-field area. He got up to bat. We saw the ball sail into the section where it landed. Just to hear the crack of the bat, everyone that I was with, we were just kind of like, "Oh my gosh, this is going to be his first home run!"
Lani Zambito, Locastro's cousin, had the best view of his home run. She nearly caught it.
Zambito: What's crazy about it is it had rained. All my cousins and all the fans from Auburn relocated because they went over to the other side (right field) where he was playing to be behind him. I stayed at my seat, and then somebody else had come to their seats. If they were sitting there, they probably would've caught the ball. The kid behind me caught it. Right in the row behind me.
Chadderdon wasn't at the game, but he was watching at home. There was a rain delay, so he tended to other matters in and outside of his home.
There is, according to Chadderdon, a group chat with Locastro and his friends from Auburn. During the rain delay, Chadderdon said Locastro sent a text message to the group.
Chadderdon: He said something along the lines of, "If I get back up in the ninth inning, I'm going to hit a home run." He kind of called his shot, which was awesome.
With Zambito one row ahead of where the ball landed, she did what any good cousin would do: She tried to get the ball from the man who caught it.
Zambito: All the people around us were Yankee fans, but knew that our cousin was playing for the Diamondbacks. But this kid didn't know because he came after it rained. I was like, "Oh my god, I want that ball. It's my cousin. He just hit his first major league home run." And he's like, "That isn't your cousin." So we encouraged him to throw the ball back. (He threw it back.) I just couldn't even believe the fact that we're in Yankee Stadium, he grew up a Yankees fan. He just gets up and when it was coming toward me, I was like "It's gonna hit me." It was the most exciting moment ever. To see that, it was just amazing. But to be where I was, I wish I could've caught the ball.
Chadderdon: It was awesome. As one of my best buddies, it was a proud moment for me just to see him in that moment. A lot of people would be happy to just be in that moment. But I think Timmy, the competitor that he is, I don't think that was enough for him. I think he wanted to do something special. I don't want to say I knew it was coming, but I expected him to do something like that. I'm super proud of him.
Charles: I've been to several World Series games, big-time college football games. It was the greatest thing I've ever witnessed in a sporting event, by far.
Colleen Locastro: We were jumping up and down. We were screaming. I was crying. People looked at us. I said, "It's our son!" It was an unbelievable moment for everybody.
With the ball thrown back onto the field, it was relayed to the Diamondbacks dugout so that Locastro would get his home run ball.
After the game, the Diamondbacks' season continued. Locastro finished the 2019 campaign with a .250 batting average, set a single-season club record with 22 hits by pitches and was second on the team with 17 stolen bases.
Locastro capped off 2019 with a walk-off RBI single in the regular-season finale. It was his third game-winning hit of the season.
Entering 2020, Locastro's first goal was to make the Opening Day roster. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he had to wait four additional months for his chance to make the 30-man roster.
Prior to the season opener on July 24, he learned that he would be on the Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster. It was a bittersweet moment for Colleen Locastro because MLB games are being played without fans, so they couldn't attend the season opener.
Colleen Locastro: That was crushing, but luckily we got to watch it on TV and he got into the game.
Poole: This year, we had a lot of trips planned. But I watch him every night, whether it's streamed or on TV. A lot of my friends have become Arizona fans. It's a cool thing to see him reach his ultimate dream to play in the major leagues.
Zambito: It sucks because of COVID. We couldn't wait for him to play and now we can't go to games. Any time he was close to New York, whether it was (Philadelphia), the Mets, the Yankees, somebody would be there.
While they can't attend the games in person, Locastro's family and friends are proud of what he's accomplished. The 2010 Auburn High School graduate starred for three years at Ithaca College before being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. He worked his way through the minor leagues, even as he was traded to three different organizations.
Locastro seems to have found a home in Arizona. After playing 91 games with the Diamondbacks last season, he appears to have cemented a place on the roster. He can play any of the three outfield positions. He's shown an ability to be a clutch performer with his bat. He gets on base, whether it's by hitting an infield single or getting hit by a pitch. His speed — he's considered the fastest man in the majors — is a major asset.
Charles: Nobody deserves it more. The kid gets the most of his ability and he's a hardworking kid. Everything he's achieved, he deserves. Nobody has given him a thing. He's earned every step that he's made.
Chadderdon: I think he's got a good shot (in Arizona). He seems to enjoy it. I think he's in a good spot. He's very happy there and I'm hoping the more opportunity that he gets, I think it's going to pay off for the Diamondbacks and it's going to pay off for Timmy. He's been working at it for a while and he's almost there.
Zambito: He's such a hard worker and he's done everything he needs to do to be where he is.
Poole: My friends will text me, "That's your nephew who's up to bat" or "That's your nephew who stole a base." He made it and we're just super proud of him.
Colleen Locastro: I still feel like there's more dreams to happen. You have to be thankful for all those little moments. There's more to come.
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Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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