After Mickey Gasper received the news that he'd been drafted by the New York Yankees, one of the first texts to hit his phone came from Max Burt, his buddy from a semi-rival college in the Northeast.
The Bronx Bombers snagged Gasper, a catcher and first baseman, in the 27th round of last year’s Major League Baseball draft.
Within a couple of hours, Gasper was able to return the favor. Burt was taken in the 28th round, also by New York.
“I kind of had a feeling they were going to take me,” Burt remembers about that day. “So, yeah, he texted me about five minutes after my agent told me I was drafted.”
The back-to-back team selections were the latest chapters in a somewhat surreal friendship for Burt and Gasper, who both started the 2019 season with the Charleston RiverDogs, New York’s low-level Class A affiliate in the South Atlantic League.
For starters, Burt grew up in North Andover, Massachusetts, and Gasper is from Merrimack, New Hampshire. They lived about 35 miles away from each other, but didn’t know that at the time.
But they figured it out when Burt’s buddy from high school befriended Gasper at Bryant University in Rhode Island. Burt was about 50 miles away at Northeastern in Boston.
“We met through our mutual friend and then ended up playing against each other through four years of college,” Gasper said. “So it was kind of funny how that all happened.”
The draft has been a blessing for both. Neither has to look far for a confidence boost after an error or bad day in the batter’s box. They can walk across the Riley Park dugout, or into the living room of their West Ashley apartment they share.
That’s been especially helpful for Burt, who’s gotten off to a sluggish start. The shortstop has played in 15 games in Charleston, and is .148 with one home run and 7 RBIs.
“Mickey’s a great batter, so he’s always giving me pointers and helping me with my approach,” said Burt.
Gasper, who is batting .235 with two homers, said their friendship works because he and Burt have a connection that runs deeper than baseball.
“We’re both gritty and just have a chip on our shoulder,” he said. “We’re both late-round picks. It’s still a blessing but we know we have something to prove and that’s how we approach the game.”
Burt was recently called up to New York's Class A-Advanced team in Tampa as the Yankees' try to recover from a spate of injuries at all levels. In all likelihood, it will be a temporary assignment and he’ll be back in Charleston.
Still, Tampa would be the next step for him and Gasper. And they don’t plan on stopping there.
“Hopefully, we’ll keep being roommates and keep this going all the way to the Bronx,” Burt said.
That would be a dream come true for Gasper, who grew up a Yankees fan. Burt is a lifelong Red Sox fan, but says he’s starting to come around.