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Adam Ottavino lives out childhood dream in his Yankees debut

Adam Ottavino of the Yankees pitches against the

Adam Ottavino of the Yankees pitches against the Orioles on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Adam Ottavino is 33, but he felt like a rookie in his Yankee Stadium debut. Although this is his ninth season in the big leagues, it is his first with the team he grew up rooting for when he lived with his family in Brooklyn.

Those roots also extended to Long Island, where his relatives ran A Ottavino Memorial Studios in Westbury. The business, which produced the granite monument for Babe Ruth’s grave,  now is located in Ozone Park but still maintains ties with its Long Island clientele. "We were sitting here watching him on television," Meg Ottavino, the pitcher’s first cousin, who works at the studio, said by phone during the game.  

Ottavino estimated that he had about a dozen members of his family at the Stadium. They saw him strike out three batters in 1⅓ innings after relieving starter Masahiro Tanaka in the sixth inning.

"I think the intros were the coolest thing," he said of the pre-game introductions on the field. "Super-loud. It's exciting to see all that. Putting on my uniform was cool."

It was something of a dream come true for Ottavino, who signed with the Yankees as a free agent after seven years with the Rockies. "Just coming here from a young age and sitting in the upper deck," he said, “just like wanting to be on the field one day, always being diehard, listening to the radio at night, putting me to bed when they were on the West Coast. It was always a place I wanted to be if it was at all possible. It’s pretty cool to make it happen." 

Bernie Williams, David Cone and Orlando "El Duque'' Hernandez were his favorite players.

Ottavino said he put all sentiment aside when he was brought into the game. “I wanted to just get in there and get used to the mound and all that and do it for real,'' he said. "It was a good time ... I was really focused on the guys I had to face."

 With an inherited runner on second, Ottavino struck out Rio Ruiz for the final out of the sixth. He retired the side in order in the seventh, striking out Chris Davis and Jesus Sucre.

He enjoyed being told by the coaching staff when he likely would be called from the bullpen. "They were really on point," he said. "They told me seventh inning, maybe one out in the sixth. I don't know how they figured that one out, but it’s perfect."

Aaron Boone knew how important the appearance was for Ottavino, saying, "I'm sure there was a lot running through his mind and his veins."

Ottavino wants to see all there is at the Stadium, including Monument Park, where the legendary Yankees, including Ruth, are memorialized. He also plans to visit Ruth’s gravesite at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, a hamlet in Westchester County.

"My dad went up there last year to see where it says our [family] name on the back of the monument," he said. "It's covered up with some sort of growth. But it's pretty cool. I'll  get there someday."

With Laura Albanese

New York Sports