Dan Bowers’ favorite New York Yankee is Derek Jeter.
But he’s got a real pinstriped pal in Martin Prado. Bowers, a former Rotterdam resident, was in Yankee Stadium Tuesday night as the Yanks played the Detroit Tigers. He and family members were sitting in the left-field bleachers and rose to their feet when Prado — acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 31 — launched a pitch to deep left in the fifth inning.
The 53-year-old Bowers, a former soccer and baseball player at Mohonasen High School, caught the baseball. Because the homer was Prado’s first as a Yankee, team representatives went into the stands to procure the souvenir.
That’s when a long night in New York really started. Bowers, his daughter Erynne, sister Sherri Bowers Donato and Sherri’s sons Joel and Tom Donato, all were invited to meet Prado after the game — and give the newcomer the ball for his personal trophy case.
“They said, ‘After the game, we’ll inconvenience you for another 30 minutes, then take you downstairs to the clubhouse,’ ” said Sherri, a former longtime Mohonasen teacher and coach. “We thought, ‘Inconvenience? Are you kidding me?’ We were so excited. I couldn’t concentrate on the game after he caught the ball because I couldn’t believe it was going to happen.”
Bowers made a nice grab. He’s visible in the YES Network video of the home run, wearing tan shorts and a navy blue Yankees shirt — number 5, with “DiMaggio” on the back — catching the ball, then holding it high in triumph.
“Martin [pronounced Mar-teen] is keen!” exclaimed Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling. “Prado of the Yankees!”
Bowers said the homer just came right at him. A couple people in front of him tipped the ball slightly, and Bowers said he jumped to make the catch . . . even though he didn’t have to.
“It was almost like in slow motion,” said Bowers, a sales executive in Orlando, Florida. He was visiting home on vacation and used the trip to take Erynne to her first game at Yankee Stadium.
Bowers and his relatives had to play the waiting game. Prado’s shot gave New York a 3-1 lead, but the Tigers tied the score at 3 in the seventh. The game went extra innings, and it was after 11 p.m. when Detroit’s Alex Avila homered to right center in the top of the 12th for a 4-3 lead and the eventual final score.
So it was around midnight when the Bowers party received its tour. They saw the clubhouse, hung around the New York dugout and were allowed to walk on the dirt apron of the playing field.
Prado, in street clothes, signed baseballs for all five family members and posed for pictures.
“I wanted him to have the ball. It’s significant for his career,” said Bowers, son of the late Lyle Bowers, longtime Mohonasen soccer coach and athletic director. “He’s just a really nice guy, very courteous, a guy you could sit down and talk to. Very humble. . . . I’ll definitely be watching his career and watching everything he does now.”
Family members drove home after the game, arriving in the Capital Region Wednesday at 3 a.m.