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Remembering 2013: Chris Cody’s family business

The dreaded off-season has arrived.  But fear not, despite news being a little slower this time of year, we have plenty of content to keep you occupied here at BlogToBlogChamps.  Each Monday, we’ll publish a feature from the 2013 York Revolutionary Times, the official game day magazine of the York Revolution for you to re-enjoy, or read for the first time in case you missed it at the ballpark.  This week, we look back at the family career for the Codys, and a decision a certain left-hander might have to make sooner than later.

Cody family

By Paul Braverman

On the worst day the New York City Fire Department ever had, a family whose entire legacy is that department was in a rare in-between moment.  Joseph A. Cody III, a 30-year veteran of the FDNY and a Lieutenant had retired two years earlier in 1999.  His oldest son Michael Cody, who would be sworn in two years later in 2003, was still in college.

“Once my Dad turned on the TV that morning, he couldn’t help himself.  He had to get down there and see what he could do to help.  He was helping out down there for several weeks with the rescue effort and cleanup.  It was itching at him – he had to be able to help in some way,” remembered Revolution starting pitcher Chris Cody, who was 17 on September 11, 2001.

While Joseph Cody may have technically been retired, good luck trying to ever get a Cody to stop thinking of himself as a firefighter.  That might even include Chris, who has yet to join the family career only because of his ability to throw a curve ball, and not because he isn’t committed.

“It’s a possible career path for me after baseball, either in FDNY or a different municipality,” says Cody.  “I’ve taken every test since I was 18, it’s a very competitive process.”

The reason that decision would be so tough is because, like baseball, with the FDNY age is a factor.  Generally, 30 is a cutoff for new hires.  Cody is 29.  While there are only 750 Major League playing jobs at a time, and a few thousand minor league players trying to get there, that uphill climb might seem easy to Cody compared to making the FDNY.  The written test Cody keeps taking to stay eligible to potentially join the department is only administered every four years.

“And that’s not even written in stone, it’s kind of on a need basis,” says Cody.  “There hasn’t been a whole lot of hiring lately, times are tough and New York City is no different.  If they were to call me tomorrow…let’s just say I’d have a tough decision to make.”

While Cody would be willing to work in another fire department where being above 30 wouldn’t be an issue, he can’t deny the allure of potentially working for the FDNY.  When he turns 30 on January 7, a day of celebration may turn stressful as he contemplates his future.  What makes the decision tough is the fact Cody continues to pitch well and rack up quality starts for the Revolution.  To hear Chris talk about it however, it sure sounds less about him and more about honoring family.

His Dad Joseph passed away in 2010, but was still alive to see Chris’ brother Michael ace his lieutenant’s test.  Michael Cody, 33, is currently waiting to get promoted to lieutenant.  Cody’s uncle and his father’s uncle also donned an FDNY uniform.

“He was really proud of that.  Michael was sworn in in December of 2003.  He’s coming up on his 10-year anniversary later this year, so I can’t believe how fast time has flown,” said Chris.  “There would be something a little special for me wearing that New York City Fire Department badge after my Dad did and now my brother.  It’s the big leagues.”

Comments like that show you the mutual admiration; while Chris may have been the best athlete in the family, he considers the firefighters the Major Leaguers.

“It’s cliché, but I think we’re all proud of each other,” said Chris, when asked who is more impressed with the other’s difficult career.  “Aunts, cousins our whole extended family, they all look at us and say ‘you don’t have your conventional nine to five jobs.’ If that’s envy, that’s neat.  Not a lot of us have typical working experience, so either baseball or FDNY is a great answer to the question of what you do for a living.”

While the Cody men all have this intense focus on serving and putting themselves in danger to help others, one wonders if the Cody women have any nerves left given the hazards of the job.  To hear Chris tell it though, it’s just what his family is, and this is what they do.

“It’s a lot of pride.  I’m sure there’s some worry from the girlfriends, wives, mothers, grandmothers – but it’s never really talked about.  They have faith that my Dad, my uncles and now my brother know what they’re doing, that they do it for a cause and you can’t really change that,” said Cody.

With that, a nostalgic Cody thinks a little more about the day his Dad “un-retired” and rushed to lower Manhattan for a while back in September of 2001.

“You just can’t change someone’s mindset of wanting to help people.”

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