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At home in the Bronx: Barkley fires 1st pitch

Local boy and New York Giants first-rounder awed by visit with Yankees
MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Yankees rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar take the field in the Bronx day after day, but on Tuesday another New York rookie paid a visit to Yankee Stadium.

Former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who was selected No. 2 overall by the New York Giants in the 2018 NFL Draft, took the mound for the ceremonial first pitch prior to the second game of the three-game series against the Astros. Although Barkley was not in front of 110,000 fans like he was used to in Beaver Stadium, the running back said he was nervous to throw the pitch.

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NEW YORK -- Yankees rookies Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar take the field in the Bronx day after day, but on Tuesday another New York rookie paid a visit to Yankee Stadium.

Former Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who was selected No. 2 overall by the New York Giants in the 2018 NFL Draft, took the mound for the ceremonial first pitch prior to the second game of the three-game series against the Astros. Although Barkley was not in front of 110,000 fans like he was used to in Beaver Stadium, the running back said he was nervous to throw the pitch.

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"When you step out of the element, that's when it gets different. I actually was a little nervous," Barkley said. "On my way here, I was watching videos of the 50 Cent and all the bad ones. I was thinking, 'I do not want to be on ESPN's Not Top 10.'"

Tweet from @Yankees: Home team since day one. pic.twitter.com/wLwYe01BJt

The Giants' running back took his walk to just in front of the mound for the first pitch. He took a slight step toward the plate and threw a one-hopper to catcher Gary Sanchez who went out to shake the rookie's hand before exiting the field.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought," Barkley said. "I kind of got caught between not trying to do too much and not trying to throw it too less. I just tried to get it to the plate. I give myself a seven."

Barkley was born in the Bronx and lived there until he was 5 years old. From ages 5-14, Barkley went back and forth between his new home in Coplay, Pa., and visiting his birthplace. Once high school football started, the future New York Giant rarely came back to the Bronx, until now.

"I didn't really think about [coming home] until they announced me as 'Bronx native,' and then I was like, 'I am born from the Bronx,' so it was kind of cool to throw a pitch," Barkley said. "Just to even throw a pitch for the Yankees was even cool."

Video: Saquon Barkley on his first pitch at Yankee Stadium

Barkley had the opportunity to meet some of the players and take some swings prior to the start of the game. When he saw Aaron Judge, he asked if he could get a picture with the 6-foot-7, 280-pound right fielder.

"Aaron Judge is huge," Barkley said. "Like I've seen him on TV, but when I saw him in person I was like, 'You could play tight end or [defensive] end, like, easy.' I tried to pitch him to come to the Giants and join the squad, but I think he's doing OK in baseball."

Barkley remembers coming to at least one Yankees game as a child, but his main interests were the NFL and NBA. Although he was not the biggest baseball fan, he recognized how special of an opportunity he had to throw out the first pitch.

"I wasn't really huge on baseball growing up, but you know who the Yankees are, you know about the 27 world championships, you know how special this place is," Barkley said. "You know this place, so to be able to come back and come here to throw a pitch -- I wish it would've went a little better -- but to throw a pitch for the Yankees and to be able to meet the Yankees' players is an unbelievable accomplishment and something that I'm going to remember forever."

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

New York Yankees