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Yankees conclude HOPE Week events

Yanks conclude HOPE Week events

NEW YORK -- Ranjit Seal tried so hard to keep his composure when Johnny Damon, Nick Swisher and CC Sabathia strutted into his office on Friday afternoon. On the inside, he was in utter disbelief, but he didn't want his heroes to know that.

So he went about his business, along with his partner, Melvin Williams. Together, they led the Yankees' players around the Manhattan law firm of Ahmuty, Demers and McManus, demonstrating what they do every day -- sort and deliver mail to the attorneys.

Then Seal received such good news, he could no longer contain himself. He was told that he and Williams were going to be guests of honor at the Yankees' game that night against the A's at Yankee Stadium and would have the opportunity to deliver mail to the rest of the players in the clubhouse beforehand.

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Seal let out a loud yelp and tried to find a chair to slump into, lest he faint from the excitement. Suddenly, it all made sense. His mother had been acting strangely, telling him he couldn't go to the movies that night without really giving him a good reason.

This was a good reason.

"I must be dreaming," he shouted. Williams looked on and grinned, expressing his excitement in his own way.

Seal, 23, and Williams, 30, have overcome learning and developmental disabilities to become mailroom employees at Ahmuty, Demers and McManus, with the help of YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities. The Yankees concluded HOPE Week by reaching out to Seal and Williams, capping the five-day charity event.

"I'm totally overwhelmed," Seal said. "I still can't believe this is happening to me. Just pinch me. This is overwhelming."

"This is really incredible," Williams said. "It's really hard to believe. I'm still not even sure what's going on."

Williams admitted he was not much of a sports fan and did not know the Yankees players. Seal, on the other hand, was an expert. He cited statistics and numbers from a variety of different sports and correctly named all the teams all three players had previously played on before the Yankees.

His knowledge and enthusiasm left the players in a state of disbelief. In the clubhouse before Friday's game, Sabathia couldn't stop talking about it.

"He knows every sport and every stat," Sabathia said to Joba Chamberlain, pointing at Seal from across the room.

"It seems like he knows everything," Damon said. "Everything keeps popping off. He seems very educated, and it's very awesome he has a job like that."

After delivering mail with the players and enjoying a lunch catered by Hard Rock Cafe, Seal and Williams came to Yankee Stadium to continue their thrilling day. They wore custom "mailroom employee" T-shirts provided by the Yankees and brought mail around the clubhouse.

It was a fitting to conclusion to HOPE (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Week, which went off without a hitch after months of planning and preparation. This was only year No. 1. Next year's HOPE Week already promises to be just as successful, if not more.

And as the first HOPE Week came and went, Yankees manager Joe Girardi couldn't help but sing its praises.

"I've loved every minute of it," Girardi said. "I think for all of us that have been involved, it has been extremely meaningful -- to see the smiles that a little bit of time can do for people, to hear the stories, to see the great things that people are doing to bring awareness.

"I believe all of us have some time during the course of the week that we can give back. It's amazing what a little bit of time does. People love relationships, and we have built some bonds during this week. For the coaches, players and myself, it's very rewarding to see what a little bit of time can do. We need to do more of it."

Jared Diamond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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