Ahearn, Brian

Correa, Ruben
Ruben Correa, Eng.74 HAPPY IN HIS HOME He would start in at 10 in the morning, pestering the men of Engine Company 74 on the Upper West Side for a chance to rule the kitchen for a day. “How ’bout I make some fat boys tonight?” Ruben Correa would say, promising steak-and-cheese hoagies that would make them cry for more. The other firemen say that when they sat down to eat, Firefighter Correa, 44, always watched them dig in before taking his first bite, making sure they liked what he had cooked. The only place that the big former marine liked more than his firehouse was his home. He scrimped and saved and even sold his car to come up with enough money to move his wife, Susan, and their three girls into their own house in Staten Island two years ago. It made for a long commute to the Upper West Side, but it meant the girls could leave their bicycles in the driveway. After years of unmerciful badgering by his colleagues, Firefighter Correa agreed a few years ago to become catcher for the firehouse’s softball team. He was called Yogi, and like the Yankee great, he saw the game as “90 percent mental, the other half physical.” He had an arm like a wrecking ball, powerful yet unpredictable. But he played like a marine, with guts and grit. “Ruben’s greatest fault,” said Daniel Murphy, a fellow firefighter who has been the Correa family’s liaison with the Fire Department since Sept. 11, “was that he never learned to take the first pitch.”