The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

July 13, 2013

Local fan gets big-league welcome

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Gary Doherty of West Oneonta is a Yankees fan. 

Joanne Krut said she knows Doherty is a fan because he wears Yankees attire. And once, when Doherty lost a bet and had to wear a Boston Red Sox hat for a day, he knocked it off about 50 times, she said.

“He is the hugest Yankees fan I ever met,” she said.

Krut met Doherty, who is disabled, through her work as a school bus monitor and said she dreamed of taking Doherty to a game at Yankee Stadium. On Tuesday, that years-old dream came true, thanks to the Yankees organization and staffer Carol Laurenzano, who rolled out the carpet for a visit that included much more than nine innings.

“I was just so excited I could get Gary there,” Krut said Wednesday.

Doherty was thrilled to go to Yankee stadium and watch a game, his mother, Diane Doherty of Gilbertsville, said Thursday. The only thing that would have made it “more perfect” was a winning score by the Yankees, she said.

On Tuesday, the Yankees lost to the Kansas City Royals, 3 to 1.

Doherty, 24, who has cerebral palsy, is of normal intelligence but is in a body “that doesn’t work well for him,” his mother said. He cannot stand, walk or use his hands, she said, and he lives in a group home in West Oneonta. He has difficulty speaking, though has “truly wonderful” facial expressions when happy, she said.

He hasn’t complained about his condition, she said, and his positive outlook and spirit inspire others to help make life better for him.

“I never met anyone who didn’t love his enthusiasm for life,” she said.

An interview with Gary Doherty couldn’t be arranged Thursday during the day.

Doherty and Krut said they didn’t tell Gary about the planned trip for fear that he wouldn’t sleep the night before. Then at about 10 a.m. Tuesday, the van left for New York City, and it returned at about 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Gerrit Bakhuizen, Gary Doherty’s aide, teacher and companion, and Bakhuizen’s wife, Nancy, made the foursome for the trip.

Diane Doherty said her family is from Connecticut, prompting her support for the Boston Red Sox that has created a friendly rivalry with her son. She said Krut was a one-person dream-fulfillment source for her son.

Krut, a Mount Vision resident, said she has known Gary Doherty since he attended Gilbertsville-Mount Upton School, where he was “such a special kid,” and she stayed in touch with the family. 

In March and April, Krut said, she and her daughter bought enough gasoline from Hess stations to qualify for four tickets to a Yankees game. Krut said she took a chance and wrote to the Yankees organization to ask if there might be special arrangements or considerations for Doherty.

“They set up a day that was so unbelievable for us,” Krut said.

Krut said she didn’t realize that this week was the Yankees’ HOPE Week when she contacted the organization.

The Yankees’ Helping Others Persevere & Excel Week spotlights individuals, families or organizations with inspirational stories, the team’s website said. Doherty’s visit wasn’t part of the initiative, which started in 2009, according to the media relations office.

On Tuesday, two interns took the four on a tour of the stadium, Krut said, and Doherty met players who gave him their autographs. The four were dinner guests at a restaurant in the stadium, she said, and the Yankees organization swapped their four grandstand tickets for seats behind home plate.

“They gave us such a memorable day,” Krut said. “We were treated like royalty.”

Diane Doherty said her son was able to watch his favorite pitcher, CC Sabathia, on Tuesday night. Among his other favorite moments, she said, were eating lobster and crab at the restaurant, being at batting practice and meeting players.

“I would love to have seen his face,” she said.