The Mets' four-game series with the Yankees marked a series of big-league firsts for rookie 1B Dominic Smith: his first Subway Series, his first home run, and his first game at Citi Field. But he'll also remember the series because it was the first time he played a big league game with his childhood idol, Aaron Hicks.
When Smith was growing up, he would see Hicks play at Compton Academy in Los Angeles, where he grew to appreciate the player who would go on to become an outfielder for the Yankees.
"As a younger guy, seeing what he was able to do and accomplish, really inspired me to want to be just as good as him," Smith said, according to the New York Post. "I definitely looked up to him and kind of idolized him growing up."
Hicks, 27, provided some advice of his own for the Mets' rookie.
"'Keep grinding,'" Hicks said. "'Take it all in, obviously. You'll get used to the speed of the game. You'll get used to the pitching. You have to just stick with it. Keep having a great attitude, having fun, and you'll be all right.'
Hicks said at the youth academy he saw a young Smith "kind of growing into his own." Smith, 22, was drafted by the Mets out of Junipero Serra High School with the 11th overall pick in the 2013 MLB draft. When he was younger, he participated in the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program and the MLB Urban Youth Academy. Hicks and Anthony Gose of the Tigers were the first graduates of the academy to reach the majors.
"It inspired me a lot," Smith. "Him and Gose paved the way for us. They were the first two inner-city guys to come out of there, and it gave a lot of young guys hope."
In 67 games for the Yankees this season, Hicks is hitting .279 with 12 home runs, 16 doubles, and 41 RBIs. Smith has played six games in the big leagues thus far, going 4-for-21 at the plate with a home run and two RBIs.