NEW YORK -- Some 450 feet from where Willie Mays' over-the-shoulder catch highlighted the 1954 World Series, Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances showed off a broad grin as he handed out turkeys with all of the fixings. For hundreds of New Yorkers who otherwise might have gone without on Thanksgiving, these
NEW YORK -- Some 450 feet from where Willie Mays' over-the-shoulder catch highlighted the 1954 World Series, Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances showed off a broad grin as he handed out turkeys with all of the fixings. For hundreds of New Yorkers who otherwise might have gone without on Thanksgiving, these grabs were undoubtedly game-changers.
Betances appeared recently at the Polo Grounds Community Center in Harlem, participating in a food drive on the patch of land that the Giants, Yankees and Mets all once called home. With assists from the Rosemark Group and Whole Foods Market, Betances helped more than 800 families put feasts on their tables this holiday.
"For us athletes, giving back is what it is all about," Betances said. "I grew up close to here. It makes me feel happy just making them smile, it brings light to my day. Anytime I can be a part of something like this, where we're giving to families that are in need and will get to have a good Thanksgiving, I signed up right away. This is what it's all about for me."
The Yankees participated in their own event last Friday, teaming with Legends Hospitality and the Supportive Children's Advocacy Network (SCAN) to host a Thanksgiving feast for several hundred Bronx residents at the Mullaly Recreation Center, a few mammoth Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton drives past the left-field fence of Yankee Stadium.
This will be a special holiday for Betances. He and his wife, Janisa, announced three weeks ago that they are expecting a baby boy. The hurler plans to cross two rivers on Thanksgiving, spending time with their extended families in New Jersey and in New York City.
"We'll usually go with my family first and have a Thanksgiving brunch, different kinds of food," Betances said. "We'll have Latin food, obviously you have to have turkey. Then at nighttime for dinner, we'll go to my wife's side of the family in Brooklyn.
"We'll try to enjoy some quality family time together. Eating is always good. I enjoy all the holidays. Any time I get to get together with my family, it's a big thing for me. I'm a big family guy. We share some laughter and it's always good."
The first reliever in Major League history to have at least five consecutive 100-strikeout seasons, Betances recovered from early issues to post a 2.70 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 66 appearances this past season, limiting opponents to a .186 batting average.
"With the way it started, it ended up being a really good year," Betances said. "It wasn't the start that I wanted, but it made me tougher mentally and I finished strong, which I felt like I haven't done in a while. I was happy with the season I had. I felt like I made improvements and I think it's going to help me for next year."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.