LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A 12-year-old New York Yankees fan who saved $1,000 so he could go to a game in the Bronx gave up the money to help keep his local school open. Then Yankees owner George Steinbrenner found out about the boy's charity and invited him to New York.
"Jonathan, I couldn't be more proud of you," Steinbrenner wrote to Jonathan Farrar, a student in the Midland School District of Pleasant Plains. "I agree with you when you said, 'The New York Yankees are important to me, but my school is more important.' You're absolutely right and it takes quite a man to give up his personal dream for a higher purpose."
Arkansas' state Board of Education had considered merging Midland schools into any of seven surrounding districts, but voted Monday to keep the district alive after townspeople raised $400,000 to cover a projected budget shortfall. Farrar donated $1,000 that he had set aside to pay for a trip to New York this summer for a belated celebration of his 13th birthday in May.
Steinbrenner said in the letter he had heard about Farrar's efforts, and he invited Farrar to New York for a game at Yankee Stadium. Steinbrenner offered Farrar a personal tour of the stadium and of the field during batting practice. He also replaced Jonathan's $1,000.
Steinbrenner praised Farrar's donation as a "sound, mature and virtuous decision."
"It was indeed the right thing to do," Steinbrenner wrote.
Steinbrenner said through a spokesman that he looked forward to meeting Farrar.
"We're going to honor him and welcome him," Steinbrenner said through Yankees spokesman Howard J. Rubenstein. "We're going to give him a New York Yankees welcome."
Lea Ramsey, Farrar's mother and an organizer of the Midland fundraising efforts, said her son had approached her about the donation when he heard about the school district's problems.
"I told him he really needed to think about this and pray about it," Ramsey said. "He told me that he just thought this was the right thing to do."
Farrar had originally planned to see a Yankees game over the summer while visiting his grandparents in Connecticut. But now, with the Steinbrenner invitation, Ramsey said she didn't know when he would go for the game and tour of Yankee Stadium.
Farrar said Monday that the Steinbrenner letter was exciting, but not nearly as thrilling as hearing about his district being saved from annexation.
"I love the Yankees. The Yankees are my main love in life," said Farrar, who said he hopes to become a professional baseball player. "Yankee Stadium sounds great, but going to another school district didn't sound good to me at all."
Steinbrenner hinted that the reward for Farrar could come in the form of a Yankees jersey down the road.
"Undoubtedly, you will be very successful regardless of the career path you choose," Steinbrenner wrote. "But just in case you choose major league baseball, I'll be keeping the first base position open for you."