New York Yankees rookie Rob Refsnyder and his family. From...

New York Yankees rookie Rob Refsnyder and his family. From left, mom Jane Refsnyder, Rob's fiancé Monica Drake, Rob, sister Elizabeth Refsnyder and dad Clint Refsnyder. Credit: Refsnyder family

Just days after Rob Refsnyder made his major-league debut, he was moving furniture into a Manhattan apartment.

"Lots of heavy lifting," he said. "But it's on the first floor, so that was nice."

The apartment isn't his, per se. Even for a top prospect, moving into a new apartment just two days after reaching the big leagues would be rather presumptuous.

It belonged to his fiancee, Monica Drake, who like Refsnyder, had recently earned a promotion. He was coming from Triple-A to Major League Baseball to play for the Yankees; she was moving from Miami to New York to start her new position with PepsiCo.

"It's been a dream come true," Drake said. "He has worked so hard for this moment."

But at that moment, it was the All-Star break, and Refsnyder wasn't a baseball player, but a mover. So he spent the day unloading the moving truck at Drake's new apartment.

"You hear a lot about how busy the city is," Refsnyder said. "But we're in a quiet area. It's a nice apartment."

And he is hoping to, one day, move his things into it. But in order for the apartment to become his permanent address, and New York his permanent city, he first has to make a home for himself at second base with the Yankees.

"That's the dream," Refsnyder said. "Anytime you have longevity in New York, it means you're doing something well."


On Friday night, Refsnyder was less than an hour away from taking the field for his Yankee Stadium debut. Seated in the second row of the middle deck down the first-base line were his family and friends. As the lineups were announced, they raised their cellphones to snap a photo of Refsnyder's name and picture on the scoreboard.

That included his parents, Clint and Jane, who adopted Refsnyder when he was 5 months old.

"Being a baseball fan all my life, I never dreamed that my son would be walking out at Yankee Stadium," Jane said Friday. "I'm afraid someone is going to wake me up."

Clint and Jane, who live in Orange County, California, were in Los Angeles in June 1991 to get Rob's visa approved so they could fly him in from his native Seoul, South Korea. Suddenly, ceiling panels began to fall, concrete pillars began to sway, the ground began to shake.

"Before our appointment, we were having breakfast in a building across the street, and the earthquake hit," Jane said of the Sierra Madre earthquake, which had a 5.8 magnitude. "Everybody ran out. Then I realized I left a briefcase with Robert's original documents inside. So I ran back in to retrieve it."

She made it out safely and the visa was approved later that day. Baby Rob arrived at Los Angeles International Airport in early September that year.

"His delivery room," Clint joked, "was LAX airport."

Clint and Jane raised Refsnyder in Laguna Hills, California, along with his sister Elizabeth, whom they had adopted from Korea three years earlier.

"Robert would just stare at her," Jane said of Elizabeth, who she says now works for a litigation consulting firm in Los Angeles. "We looked different from he did, and she looked more familiar. They bonded."


Refsnyder, described as a gregarious and respectful kid, became a three-sport athlete at Laguna Hills High School. Clint believes his son's coordination was enhanced from participating in gymnastics at a young age. And his competitiveness developed long before his athleticism.

"Playing Candy Land, if he'd lose, the board would go flying," Clint said. "He'd say, 'I don't want to play Candy Land with you anymore!' And then five minutes later, he'd come back and say, 'Let's go.' "

Clint -- who is 6-8 and played basketball at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania -- would play young Rob one-on-one. Clint would establish a comfortable lead, allow a slight comeback, and then defeat his young son.

"He had to learn how to lose," Clint said.

Rob played baseball, basketball, and football in high school before heading to the University of Arizona. There he helped the Wildcats win the 2012 College World Series and was named most outstanding player.

Selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2012 draft, Refsnyder was moved from rightfield to second base. He was hitting .290 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 81 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before being called up to start against the Red Sox in Boston last Saturday.

The righthanded hitter brought speed and some power. But starting at second in place of the struggling Stephen Drew, he also brought suspect defense at a position he's still growing into.


Clint and Jane recently spent two weeks in Pennsylvania watching Rob, 24, play in Scranton. They returned to California at around 11:30 p.m. last Wednesday. That Friday, while Clint was playing golf, he received a call from his son.

"He asked me how the weather is going to be in Boston," Clint said. "You could tell by the sound of his voice that he had been called up. I screamed at the top of my lungs."

They booked a red-eye flight and arrived in Boston to see their son's major-league debut, in which Refsnyder went 0-for-3.

The following day, though, he collected his first career hit with a single in the seventh inning. He then blasted a two-run homer over the famed Green Monster in the ninth.

"I never even saw him round the bases," Jane said. "We were all hugging and jumping around."

Added Cliff: "I was close to passing out."

At the Refsnyder house in California is a pile of old scorebooks. Ever since Refsnyder was in high school, Jane kept score of the games she attended. That didn't change at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium. She intends to have them laminated, so they don't turn yellow like the ones at home.

"They are my biggest fans, my biggest supporters," Refsnyder said of his parents. "I have a great relationship with them. My dad and I are super close. My mom sacrificed a lot. She is super loving, super supportive. Couldn't ask for a better set of parents."

His parents set in motion a journey that brought Refsnyder from South Korea to Southern California to the South Bronx. The question remains as to whether he has reached his final destination or if a prolonged slump at the plate -- he went 0-for-3 Saturday, dropping his average to .167 through four games -- could force a return to Scranton.

"It's all new, so I'm just trying to absorb as much as possible," Refsnyder said. "Obviously, you want hits. But being here, and having my family along for the ride, it's been pretty fun."

Except for when he was doing that heavy lifting at the apartment.

Refsnyder and Drake, who met in 2012 at Arizona, are to be married in December. Their careers brought them both to New York at the same time. When the moving truck pulled up, Refsnyder realized that the apartment, and New York City, could also become his new home.

"We'll have to wait and see," he said. "As long as I'm with Monica, and my family comes and visits, for sure, it will be home."

After he moves in his furniture.

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