Modern Day "Pride of the Yankees"

Yankees player Brett Gardner and Alyssa Esposito. CBS

Tonight's story is like a modern day "The Pride of the Yankees." Set in a children's hospital, a baseball hero (or in this case a relative unknown) meets a young boy (or in this case a young girl) and promises to hit a home run. Or, in this case, doesn't promise anything.

"No I didn't promise her," said Brett Gardner. "I definitely wouldn't promise anybody that."

Really, aside from the fact that Ruth hit it over the fence and Gardner hit it to shallow left, this new story is just like that old legend - only better.

As seen in an amateur video, it all began when a 12th grader named Alyssa Esposito gave a centerfielder named Brett Gardner a friendship bracelet and told him it would help him hit a homerun.

Alyssa had been in the hospital for weeks and waiting desperately for a heart transplant. Any diversion was welcome, which is what she said to Gardner in the first place.

"I just thought, 'Oh, that would be so cool if it happened,'" Alyssa said.

"She obviously didn't know you," CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman said to Gardner.

"If she knew me she'd say. 'It'll probably help you get on base or maybe steal a base but not a homerun,'" Gardner said.

Let's just say Gardener made the team because of his speed - not his power. The only hit he got that night he met Alyssa was a shallow blooper to left field.

But the crazy thing about baseball - sometimes, on the very rare occasion, you don't have to hit a homerun to score one.

It was déjà vu all over again. After the game, Gardner told some reporters about what Alyssa had said and soon, "The Pride of the Yankees II" was opening on little screens everywhere.

"I don't know, if we make it into the playoffs or get to the World Series we may have to start seeing each other every day," Gardner said at a press conference.

It's another Hollywood ending. But in this real-life remake, an even happier ending was yet to come. Apparently this good luck bracelet works even better for the person who gave it away.

About the same time Gardner hit his home run, the phone rang at Alyssa's hospital.

"'We got a heart for you,' And I was just like in shock," Alyssa said. "My mom was crying. I was crying."

Was it coincidence - or something more? And if this is a case of divine intervention, why would a truly just God be helping the Yankees?

Whatever it was, the team isn't taking any chances - they invited Alyssa to a game and gave her and her family the full Leprechaun treatment. It seems like everyone was trying to get on her good side.

"Where'd you get the gloves from?" Gardner asked.

"A-Rod," Alyssa said.

As for the friendship bracelet that started it all, it hangs in Gardner's locker - home and away.

"I keep it with me at all times," Gardner said.

Since getting the bracelet, Gardner is batting over 300. Maybe the Big Guy is a Yankee's fan.
  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

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