Phillies

South Philadelphia's Jay Handy enjoys touching reunion with Marlins manager Don Mattingly

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Jim Salisbury

South Philadelphia's Jay Handy enjoys touching reunion with Marlins manager Don Mattingly

A heartwarming moment took place in the visiting dugout at Citizens Bank Park before Friday night’s Phillies-Miami Marlins game.

A similar moment occurred 30 years ago in the visiting dugout at Fenway Park in Boston.

Jay Handy was thrilled to be there — both times.

Handy, husband, father of two and a resident of South Philadelphia for the past 15 years, was nine years old and living with his family in Vermont when he was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare and fast-moving cancer. He was given a 50-50 chance to survive. While being treated in Boston, the Make-A-Wish foundation arranged for a trip to Fenway Park so Handy could meet his favorite ballplayer, New York Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly.

The meeting took place in the dugout. Mattingly autographed a poster for the young boy. The entire Yankees team signed a ball for him.

Handy beat the disease and all these years later he and Mattingly, now manager of the Marlins, enjoyed a beautiful reunion Friday night.

“It meant the world to me,” Handy said of that meeting with Mattingly in 1988. “And to be able to come back and do it 30 years later, as a 40-year-old, it means that much more.”

Handy’s wife, Grace, and some friends and family reached out to Major League Baseball and the Marlins and made the surprise reunion happen. Handy, who works in the trade show production field, turned 40 last week.

Over the years, Mattingly has done many visits for Make-A-Wish.

“We’ve been given so much in this game,” he said. “It feels like what you should be doing.”

Mattingly was clearly touched by Friday night’s reunion.

“Really special,” he said.

The poster that Mattingly signed for young Jay Handy in 1988 hung in the boy’s room for years. Now it hangs in his nine-year-old daughter’s room.

Her name is Mattingly.

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Bryce Harper hopes Mookie Betts makes even more money than him

Bryce Harper hopes Mookie Betts makes even more money than him

Bryce Harper was the highest-paid free agent in MLB history for less than one month, quickly moving down a spot once Mike Trout and the Angels reached agreement on a $430 million extension in late March.

Harper could soon move even farther down the list. Red Sox superstar outfielder Mookie Betts is set for free agency after the 2020 season. If Betts does reach free agency, he will have just turned 28. Harper was 26 when he hit free agency.

Betts is a better all-around player than Harper. Betts hits for average, hits for power, plays great defense and has big-time speed. Betts hasn't been nearly as good this season as he was in his MVP 2018 but still has dynamic offensive numbers and leads the American League with 115 runs scored.

Harper has an edge on Betts and practically every other player in marketability. The Phillies have seen in Year 1 how much of a cash cow Harper is. They've seen it in increased ticket sales, jersey sales and with how quickly the Phanatic headband Harper made fashionable has risen to popularity. All over the city, people are wearing those things. Walking in the city Tuesday, I passed three people wearing them in the span of 10 minutes — a little kid on a bike, a middle-aged woman jogging and a man participating in an outdoor workout class. Harper transcends demographics.

Despite that, Harper wouldn't just be OK with Betts making more money than him. Harper hopes it happens.

"Mookie's an incredible player. If he has an opportunity to make more money than I do, then I hope he does," Harper said this week, according to NBC Sports Boston. "Just like Trout did."

If Betts reaches free agency, the bidding war between teams will be intense, not only because of his elite talent but because so many would-be-free-agent-superstars have already signed long-term extensions with their teams. Players in the Betts tier are becoming available less frequently than in the last few decades.

Harper also realizes that the Betts negotiation could take quite a while, just as his did.

"It's going to be a long process for him, but I think he'll be able to handle that. He has a great head on his shoulders and a great family," Harper said. "I didn't mind it. Only having a couple of weeks in spring training was nice, some extra time with family and friends. But it's part of the process. It's part of what teams and players are doing now."

Don't remind us.

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Advertising patches soon coming to MLB?

Advertising patches soon coming to MLB?

Many longtime baseball fans are not going to like this, but it sounds like advertising logos are soon coming to baseball uniforms.

According to Sports Business Daily, "a handful of MLB teams have already reached out to marketing agencies for evaluations and pricing estimates."

The NBA added advertisement patches to their jerseys before the 2017-18 season, and according to SBD they generate an average of $7 million per year, per team. That's a lot of money and big businesses rarely turn down easy, new ways to make money.

This would not happen until the 2022 next season, the first year under the next, yet-to-be-negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement. There are many issues to work through, including who sees what percentage of the newfound money.

“I’d say it’s inevitable down the road, but certainly not immediate," MLB executive VP of business and sales told reporters at the All-Star break.

If baseball wanted to do this in the least invasive way, they could just add a patch to a uniform sleeve, perhaps in the same place where teams honor recently deceased key members of the organization.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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