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Ian Happ shares a special moment while giving back on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

2 months agoAndy Martinez

Between packing canned beans into cardboard boxes at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Abel Yolich tried his best to pick the brain of the volunteer to his right.

After all, it’s not every day an 18-year-old baseball player at DePaul College Prep can pick the brain of a professional like Cubs outfielder Ian Happ.

“When I was interacting with him, we had a good conversation about the Cubs season, the offseason, what he was doing in the offseason, what I was doing during the offseason and how that really kinda played a part in our baseball careers,” Yolich said. “I feel like meeting him and having that connection with him, it was really helpful for me to understand what I can do in the future. It was really exciting.”

Yolich, who is from Humboldt Park and is a member of the Cubs RBI All-Stars program, spent the day volunteering at the Greater Chicago Food Depository with other members of the program, Happ and fellow Cub Jason Heyward. It was part of a day of service with Cubs Charities to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yolich wanted to give back, but he also made sure he picked Happ’s brain so he could know how to prepare for his future in baseball.

“He knows what he’s talking about,” Yolich said. “He’s a professional baseball player, he plays for the Cubs, so he did give me some insight of what he was learning about during his baseball career and how I could take that in my future baseball career. I feel like what he told me and that conversation that we had, [it was] like a learning experience for me.”

Just as importantly as the tips he got from Happ, was the lesson of giving back. No matter what stage or position you hold, Yolich learned you can always give back.

“I did want to come out here and show my support for the community and I think Ian wanted to do the same thing as well, so for him coming up and for him being a professional player doing that, it’s really special,” Yolich said. “I can take that, a perspective for me, what I wanna do in the future as well.”

And Happ was able to have interactions with fans, something that was sorely lost in the 2020 season that was played in empty stadiums.

“It’s something you miss,” Happ said. “You miss being able to interact, you miss being able to see the community. You know interacting on social and being able to hear from fans and talk to them about what’s going on is great, but the in-person, it’s one of the things that makes Chicago so special, I think.

“I think the ability for us to interact and see how much the fans care, it’s really different here.”

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