The Yankees honored Dan Reischel, a Ronkonkoma native, for completing his project to play catch with 162 people during a HOPE Week event on Friday, July 16, 2022, at Yankee Stadium.  Credit: New York Yankees

Yankee Stadium became the Field of Dreams for Dan Reischel and his family on Friday afternoon.

The 40-year-old Ronkonkoma native was honored by the Yankees as a part of HOPE (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Week for a project he started during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reischel’s goal was to play catch with 162 people, starting with his daughter and youngest child, Addison, and ending with his father, Frank. He played catch with friends, family and sometimes complete strangers to combat the isolation everyone faced during the pandemic.

“With every person I met, I thought about what I could give them, whether it was my time or just the experience of playing catch,” Reischel said.

Reischel now lives in Limerick, Pennsylvania, with his wife and four children. He originally didn’t plan on having a catch at Yankee Stadium.

“My thought was to take my dad to Iowa and play at the Field of Dreams,” Reischel said.

His journey to 162 games of catch slowed down this past winter as his wife, Megan, had a stem cell transplant and chemotherapy to combat multiple sclerosis.

That extra time allowed the Yankees to get involved and offer Yankee Stadium as a venue for Game 162.

Reischel and his family were joined by several Yankees and local youth players in centerfield as the group took turns playing catch with each other before taking a tour of Monument Park and the Yankees Museum. Reischel threw the ceremonial first pitch before watching the Yankees face the Red Sox.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that playing catch with Aaron Judge and throwing out the first pitch would be a part of my life experience,” said Reischel, who grew up a Yankees fan.

“This is my Field of Dreams,” said Frank, 77. “For Dan to take such a simple idea and grow it so the Yankees wanted to get involved is special.”

Frank spoke to Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole earlier in the week on a Zoom call and was taken aback when the ace approached him in the outfield and asked to have a catch.

“The cause that Dan has put together and embarked on over the course of the pandemic up until now is remarkable,” Cole said. “In an age when it seems like communication gets harder and harder between people, there’s no replacement for coming out and having a catch with them.”

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