NEW YORK -- Eric LeGrand, a former Rutgers football player who is now paralyzed and in a wheelchair, watched batting practice as a guest of the Yankees on Monday before their series opener against the Orioles.
LeGrand, who was hurt in a game against Army last October, grew up a Yankees fan in Avenel, N.J. He played baseball as a pitcher and a center fielder through his freshman year of high school before concentrating on football.
"I love the way Bernie Williams used to play," LeGrand said when asked about his favorite player. "I wasn't a switch-hitter like he was, but he just played center field, that was my thing. Just seeing him out there was what inspired me to get out there."
During batting practice, several Yankees came over to say hello to LeGrand, who controls his wheelchair with with his mouth.
LeGrand said he had a five-pitch repertoire but that football was always his first love. As he tries to walk again -- he is now able to stand up for limited periods of timing -- he is exploring the possibility of becoming a sports commentator. He said his plan all along was to play in the NFL and then become an analyst. Rutgers helped him with the second part of that by inviting him to serve as an analyst on its radio network.
"It was pretty cool," LeGrand said. "I thought I'd be more nervous. But there's no cameras, and you just sit there in a booth and talk football."