Pitoniak: Rey Palacios has lived out his dream as a baseball player and firefighter

From SABR member Scott Pitoniak at Rochester Business Journal on January 15, 2020:

Rey Palacios didn’t panic when he saw the smoke billowing from the brownstone apartment not far from his Brooklyn home. Thanks to his training in the auxiliary fire department program, as well as the times spent picking the brains of relatives who were New York City firefighters, the 17-year-old knew exactly what he had to do. It was as if the young man who would go on to play briefly for the Rochester Red Wings had spent a lifetime preparing for this moment.

When he arrived on the scene, several hysterical bystanders were screaming that there was a baby in the apartment. Palacios grabbed his air-pack and bolted upstairs. After crawling through two smoke-blackened rooms, he found the baby, scooped it into his arms and began hurtling for the stairwell, only to discover it was engulfed in flames. Although his heart was pounding through his chest, Palacios managed to keep his cool. He smashed open a window with a chair and as he climbed onto the ledge, he heard sirens. The boys from Brooklyn Ladder Company No. 101 had arrived just in the nick of time. They raised a ladder, and Palacios descended, cradling the baby.

A life had been saved thanks to a young man’s clear-headed, quick thinking under pressure. “There is no greater rush than saving a fellow human being’s life,’’ Palacios was saying recently from the kitchen table of his Irondequoit home. “You could hit 10 grand slams in the World Series and it still wouldn’t compare.” As he reflected on that moment from a half-century ago, the 23-year veteran of the Rochester Fire Department shook his head in amazement. “Looking back, I realize how blessed I’ve been,’’ Palacios said.

Doubly blessed, in fact, because both of his childhood dreams came true. Growing up in the rough-hewn neighborhood known as Red Hook in the southern tip of Brooklyn, Palacios fantasized about becoming a firefighter and a Major League Baseball player. “There was no doubt in my mind that I would become a firefighter,’’ said Palacios, who will be honored by the Rochester Baseball Historical Society at its annual Hot Stove Dinner at Frontier Field on January 25. “The baseball part of it seemed more far-fetched, especially for a kid from New York, where the odds were really stacked against you. But the firefighter part of it, that was a given.”

Read the full article here: https://rbj.net/2020/01/15/palacios-has-lived-out-his-dreams-as-a-baseball-player-and-firefighter/

Originally published: January 17, 2020. Last Updated: January 17, 2020.