STAMFORD — Lou Potter, owner of Knead a Massage Clinic on Berrian Road in Stamford, recently became the latest to sign a big league contract with the New York Yankees.

Potter, a massage therapist by trade, recently signed a one-year deal with the 26-time World Champions to be the team’s director of massage therapy.

“I’ve been a Yankee fan my whole life,” said Potter. “The history, the tradition; I love everything about it. To be a part of that is unbelievable.”

Potter will make his way to Tampa, Fla. on Feb. 11 for the beginning of spring training. For the eight-month-long regular season, he’ll travel with the club to major cities throughout the U.S. and Canada as the team competes for a chance to play in the Major League Baseball playoffs.

The job will not be easy. Potter will face a grueling 162-game schedule compressed into eight months, which gives players and staff little down time. Also, the New York media can also be especially tough to deal with if a mistake is made, said Potter.

He plans to keep his head down, his hands working and stay out of the spotlight. “And hopefully help the players heal,” he says.

This isn’t Potter’s first run-in with the most winningest franchise in professional sports history. He first joined the Yankees as a part-time message therapist in 2004, at the request of the team’s former director of message therapy Scott Yelin.

“I asked [Yankees’ head trainer] Gene Monahan if I could get some extra help because I was the only one working on these guys,” Yelin recalled. “After (Yankees’ General Manager) Brian Cashman gave the approval, I called Lou and asked if he would be interested.”

Potter remembers that call. “I didn’t believe him,” he said. “In fact, it wasn’t until we pulled up to the stadium that I actually believed this was real.”

Yelin says it’s the relationships Potter built, particularly with pitchers like left-handed hurler Randy Johnson who preferred messages at the hands of Potter, that won him favor for the full-time spot.

“Lou is a product of his own hard work and good fortune,” said Yelin. “He’s very talented and that’s why he is where he is.”

Potter received his license in 1994 from the Florida Institute of Message Therapy in Lauderhill, Fla. He’s worked for spas, fitness clinics and Fortune 500 companies throughout Stamford. He’s even worked on Hollywood superstar John Travolta while the actor visited Stamford to shoot scenes from his latest Disney flick “Old Dogs,” due out in November.

When asked what’s it like to dig your hands into the flesh of world-class athletes and national superstars, Potter responded, “It’s no different than working on anyone else. They’re just guys. I try and treat everyone the same way.”

The main goal as the Yankees’ head message therapist is to repair, prevent and improve player injuries incurred on the field during the long, strenuous season, says Potter. “Hopefully I’ll be doing that right up into the World Series,” he said.

SOURCE: The Hour (