It all started so innocently a few months ago.
Jack Curry, the award-winning analyst on the YES Network, covering the New York Yankees, paid a visit to his high school alma mater, namely Hudson Catholic, on the school’s Career Day in February.
Curry is a Jersey City native who was a recent inductee into the Hudson Catholic Hall of Fame. He agreed to return to his roots to talk to the students about his experiences of going from a stringer covering high school sports for the Jersey Journal to the beat writer covering the Yankees for The New York Times and finally, for the last decade, as an expert analyst for the YES Network.
“I was so impressed with the students,” Curry said in a recent phone interview. “And I said rather innocently that if any of them wanted to visit the YES Network studios [in Stamford, CT.], just contact me.”
That was all Liz Moyeno had to hear. Moyeno, the standout second baseman on the first-ever Hudson Catholic softball team to win the Hudson County Tournament in May, addressed Curry when he spoke to her class.
“I told him that he had my dream job,” said Moyeno, who will attend Montclair State University next month with the hopes of majoring in sports journalism and broadcasting. “I told him that I always watched the YES Network and that he was one of my idols. I had no clue that he was an alumnus of the school.”
After Curry’s appearance at the school, Moyeno personally wrote Curry three letters.
Curry then graciously returned Moyeno’s persistence with a gift package. Enclosed in the box was an autographed copy of Curry’s book he co-authored with Derek Jeter, “The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams,” as well as a Mariano Rivera rookie baseball card and a personally autographed picture.
Moyeno had a friend for life.
“That was a complete surprise,” said Moyeno, who earned Hudson Reporter All-Area honors last spring.
Curry then had an even bigger surprise. He told Hudson Catholic English teacher Lisa Matrale that Moyeno could bring two of her friends and classmates to visit at the YES Network studios. He was a man of his word.
“We had to keep it to a small group, because it was the first time the YES Network was doing anything like it,” Curry said.
Moyeno was able to bring classmates Jennifer Rubio and Reina Garcia to the studios. Matrale and school principal Richard Garabell accompanied the young ladies on their trip of a lifetime.
“I told them to come in early so I could show them around,” Curry said. “They were with us for about three hours. We had a pretty elaborate pre-game meeting, then we had our Facebook Live session. I showed them around the control room and the studio. They were able to hang out while we did the show.”
Rubio was stunned that she was selected to go.
“I was shocked,” Rubio said. “I didn’t think I’d get the shot. I felt like he wanted to get to know me. He asked me about my college plans. I was really speechless. I never thought I would get the chance. It was amazing.”
Rubio was also a member of the softball team. She was a reserve third baseman who returns for her senior year.
Garcia, who is already taking six credits at Syracuse University, is also interested in journalism.
“No one else gets this opportunity,” Garcia said. “This gives me a better understanding of what I would like to do. I was really impressed. Jack showed us that you can come from Hudson Catholic and make something great of your life. It was a great experience.”
The girls were introduced to Curry’s colleagues John Flaherty, the former Yankee catcher, and studio host Bob Lorenz.
“Bob Lorenz was being his typical self, cracking jokes,” Curry said. “The girls were asking good questions and were very engaged. They asked me how prepared do I have to be to do my job. I told them that I use about 10 percent of what I prepare for.”
Matrale was impressed with Curry’s professionalism and demeanor.
“We were elated,” Matrale said. “Jack Curry is a true Jersey City boy at heart. He wants to give back to his own. The entire day, our girls were treated with red carpet respect. As soon as I met Jack, we sort of clicked, because I’m a Yankee fan. He was so accommodating and wonderful. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these girls. When we walked in, Jack said, ‘And here’s our girl power right here.’”
When Curry attended the school on McGinley Square, it was an all-boys institution. It has now since gone co-educational for the last decade.
“As a school, we’re so proud of him,” Matrale said. “He’s someone who will bend over backwards to help others out. He’s proving how much Hudson Catholic meant to him and now he’s giving back.”
When Curry was a student at Hudson Catholic in the 1980s, he was an All-Hudson County second baseman, much like his new friend Moyeno.
“I was like a kid at Christmas,” Moyeno said. “He personally asked for me, so I felt extremely honored. It’s like it was meant to be for me, like it happened for a reason. If I didn’t send those letters, this wouldn’t have happened. He was very down to earth, genuine, easy to talk to. You can see he loves what he does. He has great passion for his job.”
Moyeno plans on continuing her softball career at Montclair State.
“Everything worked out perfectly,” Moyeno said. “After meeting him, I felt like he knew me. I felt like this day would happen, that I would get a chance like this.”
Curry said that he was happy to make the young ladies’ dreams come true.
“My parents would expect nothing less of me,” Curry said. “I’d feel guilty if I didn’t share my experiences and try to give back. I’ve had two dream jobs, the New York Times and now this. I had a lot of people help me along the way. I didn’t get to where I am on my own. I didn’t push the boulder up the hill on my own.”
But a lot of others who have become successful in their careers have turned their back on their roots, leaving it in the rearview mirror forever. That’s not who Jack Curry was and is. He’s the pride of Jersey City and Hudson Catholic and proved it with his generosity to three young ladies from his alma mater. It’s a pleasure for this reporter to have known Jack well for more than 40 years. He makes us all proud.
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com. You can also read Jim’s blog at www.jimhaguesports.blogspot.com