MILWAUKEE (AP) — When Brewers slugger Christian Yelich takes
the field against the Los Angeles Dodgers ,
he’ll have one group of Milwaukee fans rooting especially loud for his success:
Serbian-Americans.The 26-year-old MVP candidate’s banner year has earned him
plenty of new fans, including Serbians who are just now becoming aware of his
heritage. Yelich’s paternal grandfather was Serbian.“Everybody is seriously
super-stoked and really happy,” said Sinisa Torbica, 50, whose parents
immigrated to Milwaukee from Serbia in the 1960s.Torbica, who makes a living as
a translator, said he long thought Yelich might be of Serbian descent but wasn’t
sure because the Americanized spelling differs from the more usual Jelic
surname. Torbica said it was “fricking awesome” when a friend told him about
Yelich’s ancestry last year. His own friends, he said, feel the same.“They’re
just kind of like awestruck,” Torbica said. “They’re like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe
it. He’s Serbian, are you kidding me? MVP?’ It’s unbelievable.”Yelich said he
has never visited Serbia or fully researched his heritage, but he feels “pride
in it.”“Any time you can have an impact on anybody’s life in a positive
direction Kenta Maeda
, to bring happiness to the community or a certain group of
people, you don’t take that lightly as a team, as a player,” he said.The Brewers
acquired Yelich from the Miami Marlins in a trade this past offseason and he
went on to win the National League batting title with a .326 average. He hit 36
home runs and had 110 RBIs, just missing the Triple Crown — a rare feat last
accomplished by Miguel Cabrera for Detroit in 2012.Now, Yelich is a frequent
topic of conversation among Milwaukee’s small, tight-knit Serbian community that
likes cheering for athletes who have a connection to home, said Steve Petrovic,
the president of the American Serb Hall on the city’s southwest side. Petrovic
said it’s the same adulation Serbians feel for athletes like tennis superstar
Novak Djokovic and retired NBA player Vlade Divac.“When you’re within the
Serbian community, that kind of stuff is talked about — ‘Did you see Yelich had
three hits the other night?'” Petrovic said. “That is very
commonplace.”Serbians’ migration to Milwaukee began in the late 1800s, driven by
poverty and overpopulation in Eastern Europe, said John Gurda, a Milwaukee
historian and author.They settled in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood,
near the city’s south side Matt Kemp
, and largely worked industrial jobs, Gurda said. Another
wave of Serbian immigrants began arriving in Milwaukee in the 1980s during the
wars in Sarajevo and the Bosnian conflict.The St. Sava Serbian Orthodox
Cathedral, the St. Sava Orthodox School and Serb Hall have become important
gathering places for Serbians, who number about 4,000 in the area, according to
census data.“I can guarantee you that if you go out to Serb Hall or the school,
they know (about Yelich) and they’re proud,” Gurda said.That pride is part of
Serbians’ nationalistic streak and their “special draw” toward cheering on their
own when they succeed, said Mike Uzelac, 63, former president of Serb Hall.“We
try to support each other, and root for each other whether it’s basketball,
football, acting Rich Hill
, whatever,” he said.Now that more Serbians are learning
about Yelich’s heritage, they want to make sure that others know it, too.“Now
I’m going to be bringing it up to all my friends,” said Ilija Stojsavljevic, 47,
an engineer from the Milwaukee suburb of Cudahy. “I will be bringing that up
whenever possible.” ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Masahiro Tanaka had another poor
outing in his final start before the playoffs.Tanaka gave up four runs and six
hits over four-plus innings in in the New York Yankees‘ 8-7 loss to the Tampa
Bay Rays on Wednesday night.“It just comes down to the mechanics,” Tanaka said
through a translator. “I wasn’t able to locate my pitches the way I wanted
to.”New York’s lead over Oakland for home-field advantage in the AL wild-card
game on Oct. 3 was cut to 1½ games, with the Yankees holding the
tiebreaker.Yankees manager Aaron Boone hasn’t decided whether Tanaka, J.A. Happ
or Luis Severino will start against the A’s.“A lot of people ask me that,
friends, family, all that ,
and honestly I have no idea,” Boone said before the game.New York rallied for
four runs in the ninth against Sergio Romo, who struggled to get four outs for
his 24th save.“They’re tough. They’re talented,” Rays manager Kevin Cash
said.Aaron Judge hit a bases-loaded RBI single before Luke Voit hit a two-run
off the center-field wall that Mallex Smith nearly caught. Judge held up,
forcing Voit to only reach first. After Giancarlo Stanton had a run-scoring
infield single, Romo retired Tyler Wade on a flyout and Miguel Andujar on a
popout.“I’m proud of the way the guys were fighting,” Judge said. “Games like
that will help us down the stretch and the postseason.”Tanaka (12-6) was coming
off a four-inning start last Thursday in which he allowed five runs and eight
hits during an 11-6 loss to Boston.“Regardless of how I pitched the last two
games, it’s something that’s out of my control, so I guess I don’t really have
an opinion on that,” Tanaka said of the wild-card game.Tampa Bay’s Kevin
Kiermaier was hit by Tanaka’s pitch in the first and left two innings later with
what X-rays determined was a hairline fracture of the right foot. The center
fielder made a running catch on Brett Gardner’s drive during the
second.Kiermaier missed 57 games this season with a torn right thumb
ligament.“What a way for my year to end,” Kiermaier said. “That’s my 2018 in a
nutshell.”After falling behind by three, the Rays went up 4-3 on Tommy Pham’s
third-inning solo homer off Tanaka. Pham extended his career-best, on-base
streak to 28 games, the longest active run in the AL. He has a hit in 27 of
them.Reliever Yonny Chirinos (5-5) went four scoreless innings and worked out of
a bases-loaded Starlin
Castro Jersey
, one-out jam in the fifth when Stanton grounded into
a double play.Both teams scored three times in a first inning that lasted 40
minutes and saw Tampa Bay’s Ryne Stanek (30) and Tanaka (36) combine for 66
pitches.Neil Walker hit a three-run homer , while Tanaka walked one, hit a
batter, allowed three hits and was charged with an error on an errant throw to
second base after fielding C.J. Cron’s grounder between the mound and the
first-base line.Walker was hit on the shin by pitched ball in the eighth and was
replaced by Wade. X-rays were negative.Matt Duffy, who scored on Tanaka’s error,
left after the inning with right quadriceps tightness.Cron had an RBI double in
a four-run eighth off David Robertson. The inning included Gary Sanchez’s major
league-leading 18th passed ball, which raised his two-year total to 34.Robertson
joined Mariano Rivera (1,115) and Dave Righetti (522) as the only pitchers to
make 500 appearances with the Yankees.It was the eighth time the Yankees have
lost when scoring seven or more runs.TRAINER’S ROOMYankees: SS Didi Gregorius
(right wrist) resumed baseball activities and might return this weekend. … CF
Aaron Hicks (left hamstring) will likely start Friday. … INF Gleyber Torres
(hip/groin) struck out as a pinch-hitter in the sixth.Rays: 1B/DH Ji-Man Choi
sat out after experiencing concussion-like symptoms and cutting his left ear
during a play at the plate Tuesday. “Nothing more than stitches in his ear,”
Cash said.UP NEXTLHP CC Sabathia (8-7) could be making his final regular-season
start for the Yankees on Thursday. He needs seven innings to reach 155 and earn
a $500,000 bonus. The Rays will use relievers.
Sign In or Register to comment.