Results tagged ‘ Monument Park ’
Alex Rodriguez gave Brayan Villarreal a rude introduction to the major leagues with a crushing home run to left-center off a 3-1 pitch leading off the sixth inning Saturday. Villarreal, 23, a righthander from Venezuela who wears uniform No. 60, had the unenviable task of trying to get out A-Rod, the first major-league batter he ever faced.
Rodriguez’s first home run of the season and career No. 614 was a laser beam of a drive that landed just to the left of Monument Park. It was also A-Rod’s 1,833rd RBI, leaving him one shy of tying Dave Winfield for 15th place on the all-time list.
The first umpires’ review of a home run call in a Yankees game came in the fifth inning. Robinson Cano led off with a shot to left field that hit high off the wall and came back into play as Cano raced to second base for a double.
It did not appear as if the ball went over the wall, but there was a group of fans in the area, and the possibility existed that the ball might have hit off one of them and back on to the field. After viewing the replay, the umps decided – correctly – that the ball had hit the top of the wall and rebounded into play leaving Cano at second base. He eventually scored on Russell Martin’s first home run as a Yankee, a booming shot to left off Tigers lefthander Brad Thomas.
Players from the China Youth Baseball League (CYBL) who won the 28th Boys Nankyu World Championship Tournament in Tokyo in July were honored Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium as the people of China celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, the second-most significant holiday in China after the Chinese New Year holiday.
The visit is the latest effort by the Yankees to show their continued support for the growth of baseball in China. All arrangements for the visit have been made within the guidelines of the cooperation agreement between the Chinese Baseball Association (CBA) and the Yankees.
The championship-winning players are all members of the Beijing Xinxing Longren Baseball Club, which has given athletic and academic opportunities to children from severely disadvantaged rural and migrant-poor backgrounds, including many orphans. All the children attend nearby Dacheng School and receive room, board and training equipment.
“The date of the visit to Yankee Stadium is very significant as it is the holiday that tradition calls for the Chinese people to be with their parents,” said Kenneth Huang, Founder and Chairman of QSL Youth Sports Development Foundation, which is sponsoring the group’s visit. “These children, who do not have the opportunity to be with their parents, are able to live another dream – the dream of coming to the cathedral of baseball, Yankee Stadium, to see the team and the sport they love.”
The 2010 Nankyu Tournament, which featured 16 teams from 12 countries, was a milestone achievement for Chinese baseball, marking the first time in 11 years that a team from the CYBL had won an international championship. The rules of Nankyu are the same as the rules of baseball with one difference: the ball is made from rubberized material.
Beijing Xinxing Longren program director and coach Wei Li was joined by players Zichao Jiang (age 11), Zhenbei Bao (11), Kaiming Yin (11), Xiao Han (14), Renzeng Qiangba (9), and Jin Yang (11). Secretary General Wei Shen represented the CBA.
The group watched batting practice from the field, followed by tours of Monument Park and the New York Yankees Museum presented by Bank of America.
The family of George Steinbrenner was extremely pleased about the pre-game ceremony to honor the late Yankees owner Monday night at Yankee Stadium when a monument to his career was placed in Monument Park and issued a statement of gratitude.
“We are grateful to have been able to share this night with so many special people who brought fulfillment to our father’s life,” the statement read. “To see all of the distinguished Yankees alumni, friends and family gathered with us was a meaningful tribute to him.
“Our father always believed that this organization was an extension of his family, and he felt our fans were the heartbeat and soul of this baseball team. His unrelenting vision and passion for success was unmatched, and we are humbled that his likeness will forever greet the people he cared so deeply for in Monument Park.
“We would like to thank everyone who came out to support our father and the Yankees tonight. He was a proud owner, but he was also a great husband, father and grandfather to us.”
Watching Curtis Granderson at the plate much of this year made one wonder how it was that this guy hit 30 home runs last year, especially playing half his games at Detroit’s Comerica Park, hardly a power hitter’s haven.
When the Yankees acquired Granderson in an off-season trade from the Tigers, it was thought that he might be a regular 30-homer guy what with the friendlier dimensions at Yankee Stadium for left-handed batters.
At the midway point of the season, however, Granderson had seven home runs and was batting .240. The idea that he could approach 30 homers seemed out of the question. Now look at him. There are only two weeks left in the regular season, so Granderson won’t get to 30, but he just may get close.
The center fielder is up to 21 after his two-homer performance Monday night in the Yankees’ 8-6 victory over the Rays that kicked off the four-game series between the American League East contenders on the occasion of George Steinbrenner’s plaque being added to Monument Park.
Granderson thrust the Yankees into a 2-0 lead with a two-run shot in the second inning off Matt Garza. The second home run, a three-run blast off a 2-1 changeup from Grant Balfour in the sixth, was pivotal and majestic.
The Yankees had blown all of a 4-0 lead in a four-run Tampa Bay sixth when their pitchers struggled to satisfy plate umpire Tim McClelland’s strike zone. Of 42 pitches thrown that inning by three Yankees pitchers, 24 were balls. The Yankees walked three batters, including one with the bases loaded, and had another hitter, Carl Crawford, reach base on catcher’s interference. The hardest hit ball by the Rays was a grounder by Evan Longoria that was turned into a double play.
The Yankees came back in the bottom half and regained the lead on a singles by Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli and Derek Jeter. Granderson added on big time with his second dinger. The ball hit the foul pole next to the fourth deck. Mark Teixeira is the only player to hit a fair ball into the seats there, which is where Granderson’s would have landed if it had not struck the pole. This was a Ruthian clout for a guy generously listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds.
“People ask me a lot about home runs,” Granderson said later, “and I say, ‘Hey, I’m the fourth lightest guy on the team. ‘ “
For all his power in 2009, Granderson produced only a .249 batting average, which is also what it is right now. He hit over .300 in 2007 but hasn’t come close to that since. Yet this is the fourth straight year that he has hit at least 20 home runs.
Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long has worked with Granderson in the second half to calm down an overly busy approach and has gotten some results, mostly related to power.
As late as Aug. 11, Granderson was batting .239. He entered September with a .243 average and began the month with a 5-for-10 only to suffer a 0-for-14 stretch not long after that. Overall, however, the month has been a good one for Granderson. In 62 September at-bats, he is hitting .290 with four doubles, six home runs and 17 RBI. He has 14 home runs and 41 RBI in the second half.
“I feel with my swing more contact I can get to the ball quicker,” Granderson said. “I’m not pulling off the ball as much.”
“Every since Grandy made that minor adjustment, he has played really well,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “That second home run was huge for us.”
“He just got hot right now and has been hitting home runs the whole month,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He was able to keep that sucker fair.”
Right away Monday, I knew things would be different at Yankee Stadium. As I entered the lobby, I ran into a pair of old friends – Joe Torre and Don Mattingly.
Yes, this was going to be quite a night.
The former Yankees manager and captain were in the new Yankee Stadium for the first time to be part of the ceremony before Monday night’s Yankees-Rays game to honor the memory of the late Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner with the unveiling of a plaque in the middle of Monument Park.
“I wanted to come back here last year for the World Series, but I didn’t do a good enough job,” Torre said, alluding to his Dodgers team’s failure to get past the Phillies in the National League Championship Series.
Last Friday, Joe announced that he was stepping down as Dodgers manager next year and will be succeeded by his bench coach, Mattingly, who will finally fulfill his dream by managing on the major-league level. Donnie gave me a hug and I said, “I can’t call you ‘Cap’ anymore. I’ll have to start calling you ‘Skip’ now.”
There were a lot of years and memories of Yankees greatness in these two figures standing in the Gate 2 lobby where next to the elevators stands a statue of “The Boss.”
Shortly after, Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost came out of one of the elevators and greeted Torre and Mattingly and proceeded to start them on a tour of the two-year-old park. Let’s hope that this is the beginning of a renewed relationship between the team and its estranged icons.
Trost contacted Torre right after his press conference Friday and invited him and Mattingly to the ceremony. Monday was an open date on the Dodgers’ schedule
It must be noted that both men left the Yankees after the 2007 season not on the best of terms, Torre more so than Mattingly. Unable to get a contract extension that suited him, Torre left and went to the Dodgers. Mattingly had been a candidate for the Yankees manager’s job, but it went to Joe Girardi. Mattingly went to Los Angeles to be on Torre’s coaching staff.
“I always expected to come back,” Mattingly said. “I played my whole career here. I love the Yankees. I’m with another storied organization in L.A. now, but it was the Yankees who taught me the game, and I love coming back.”
As for Torre, Mattingly likened his return to the Stadium to when Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who was also at the Stadium for the Steinbrenner ceremony, returned to the Bronx in 1999 after a lengthy feud with the owner.
“Like Yogi, Joe needed to get back,” Donnie said. “I remember those years when Yogi wasn’t around and thinking his coming back needed to happen. It’s the same with Joe.”
Torre and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman agreed that their relationship was strained after “The Yankees Years,” a book co-written by Torre and Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, characterized them as having opposing views towards the end of Torre’s 12-year run as Yankees manager.
They spoke Monday for the first time since parting ways three years ago.
“It was time to turn the page,” Cashman said. “I was the general manager for 10 of the 12 years Joe was here, and it was a magic carpet ride nearly all of that time. I was disappointed that the majority of our time together was not presented in the book. But we had a good talk, and we’ll move on from there.”
One thing Torre and Cashman were in agreement over was their respect for Steinbrenner. Cashman said those in the front office are still adjusting to running the Yankees without him.
“You have to understand that he did everything with the Yankees,” Cashman said. “No matter what area of business there was, he had the final say. And you always knew when he was in the Stadium. You could just feel his presence once you got two feet into the door. Some would say you could feel it in the parking lot.”
“George is responsible for the best years of my life professionally,” Torre said. “We had some disagreements, but it was a good relationship. You always knew how much George wanted to win, for this city and for this organization. The last time I spoke to him was his 80th birthday. I knew he would get a lot of attention that day, so I actually called him the day before. We spoke for about 10 minutes. He was in very good spirits. It’s a good feeling to get back to this. George belongs not only in Monument Park but also in the Hall of Fame.”
The pre-game ceremony was attended by Joan Steinbrenner, George’s widow, and her four children – sons Hank and Hal and daughters Jennifer and Jessica and their spouses. Other guests included Berra and fellow Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson as well as commissioner Bud Selig, Gene Michael, Roy White, Lee Mazzilli, David Wells and Tino Martinez.
Torre was accompanied by his wife, Ali. Yogi and the Steinbrenner family climbed on to a golf cart and began a procession down the right field line and along the warning track to Monument Park beyond the center field wall. Not surprisingly, the loudest cheers were for Torre and especially Mattingly.
“There has never been a greater group of fans than the fans at Yankee Stadium,” Torre said.
The plaque read:
July 4, 1930 – July 13, 2010
New York Yankees Principal Owner
1973 – 2010
Purchased the New York Yankees on January 3, 1973.
A true visionary who changed the game of baseball forever,
he was considered the most influential owner in all of sports.
In his 37 years as Principal Owner, the Yankees posted a Major League-best .566 winning percentage,
while winning 11 American League pennants and seven World Series titles,
becoming the most recognizable sports brand in the world.
A devoted sportsman, he was Vice President of the United States Olympic Committee, a member of
the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors and a member of the NCAA Foundation Board of Trustees.
A great philanthropist whose charitable efforts were mostly performed without fanfare, he followed a
personal motto of the greatest form of charity is anonymity.
Dedicated by the New York Yankees
September 20, 2010
George Steinbrenner’s legacy as the Yankees’ principal owner for nearly four decades will be honored with a monument at Yankee Stadium. The Monument Park dedication to Steinbrenner, who died July 13 at the age of 80, will be Monday, Sept. 20, prior to that night’s game between the Yankees and the Rays.
“We remain profoundly grateful and touched by the many expressions of sympathy and support from so many,” the Steinbrenner family said in a statement. “We wish to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and prayers, which we continue to hold close. We are especially appreciative that our family’s privacy was respected as we grieved the loss of George.
“We know we will always share George’s memory with Yankees fans everywhere, and a monument in his honor to be located in Monument Park will reflect the special connection, appreciation and responsibility that George felt for New York Yankees’ fans everywhere as they were always uppermost in his mind.”
The family also said that there will be a tribute to Steinbrenner’s life in Tampa, Fla., at the opening exhibition game during spring training in March of 2011.
The Yankees continued 2010 HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) Tuesday by reaching out to Morris Plains, N.J., resident Jane Lang, who is blind.
Yankees pitchers Chad Gaudin, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Kerry Wood, along with manager Joe Girardi and former Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez, surprised Jane at her house at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and joined her on her trek to Yankee Stadium, using public transportation. The trip was to take New Jersey Transit train No. 6640 to Penn Station and then board the D train north to the Stadium.
Once there, Jane was to receive a private tour of Monument Park, where she could feel the monuments for the first time. She was then to go on a private tour of the Yankees Museum and feel the 2009 World Championship Trophy as well as one of Babe Ruth’s bats. Jane and her family and friends, as well as members from The Seeing Eye will then attend Tuesday night’s Yankees-Tigers game at the Stadium as guests of the team. Jane will also be recognized with a special pregame ceremony.
Blind since birth, Jane Lang has been to hundreds of Yankees games. What makes her special is that she travels to the Stadium via public transportation on her own – walking to her local train station in Morris Plains before taking two separate trains with her Seeing Eye dog, Clipper.
At the age of 5, Jane was enrolled by her family in the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass., the same school that Helen Keller attended in the late 1800s. Though she learned as a young girl how to navigate around a city using a cane, Jane would eventually seek out the use of a Seeing Eye dog after a couple of key incidents left her stranded and helpless.
In June 1965, at age 22, Jane arrived at The Seeing Eye in Morristown, N.J., which is the oldest existing dog-guide school in the world. After four weeks, she finished training with her first dog, Sandy, and had met a new instructor at the school, Pete Lang, whom she wed just three months after their initial introduction.
After raising three children (Sharon, Danny and Billy), along with owning and operating both a knitting business and a chair-caning enterprise, Jane decided to expand her life even further. In 2000, she and her guide dog Laramie learned how to navigate from their Morris Plains home to Yankee Stadium, solely using public transportation.
The trip begins with a walk to her local New Jersey Transit station, where they board the train for the 70-minute ride to Manhattan’s Penn Station. From there, they head up to the street and walk from Seventh Avenue to Sixth Avenue, where they descend underground again to catch the D train for the 30-minute ride to Yankee Stadium.
Prior to leaving the house, she places eight pieces of candy in one of her pockets. As the D train makes each of its stops along the way to the Stadium, she moves one piece of candy to her opposite pocket. When there’s one candy left, it means the next stop is the Stadium. More than 250 solo trips to the Bronx later, the Yankees will join Jane in her trek to Yankee Stadium.
Oh, that’s right. The Yankees played a game Wednesday. It wasn’t as if Alex Rodriguez was out there alone trying to homer himself into history. The other Yankees had a job to do, too, which was to avoid what would have been their first four-game losing streak of the season.
That was the most satisfying aspect of Rodriguez’s 600th career home run. The two-run shot came in the first inning and gave the Yankees a lead that they would not relinquish. Derek Jeter scored ahead of A-Rod on what would be a four-hit day for the captain. Phil Hughes, battling a cold, gutted his way through 5 1/3 innings and allowed one run. Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined for 3 2/3 innings of scoreless, 1-hit relief. Mark Teixeira drove in three runs with a double and a single, and the team was flawless in the field.
“We needed to win a ballgame,” Rodriguez said afterwards.
Sure did. A-Rod’s march to 600 had become a gauntlet, and the Yankees skidded along with him, dropping five games in the American League East standings and out of first place.
“It hadn’t been a lot of fun,” Rodriguez said. “I had found a niche in that clubhouse, to let my bat do the talking instead of talking so much to you guys [press]. The last 10 days have been the opposite. I was pressing because I wanted to get it out of the way I don’t like to talk that much about myself. That’s the old Alex. So much has changed – my place on in the clubhouse, my relationship with my teammates. We’re about winning and checking our egos at the door. No personal achievement can top celebrating on the mound as the last team standing.”
After another hitless game Tuesday night, Rodriguez hung around the clubhouse late and had a long talk with his captain. Jeter went through a similar challenge last year in pursuit of Lou Gehrig’s franchise record for hits. Derek centered on A-Rod’s 0-for-17 slump more than the 46 at-bat homerless stretch and told Alex he needed to relax and just get a hit, bunt if you have to.
The funny thing is that when Rodriguez came to bat with Jeter on first base and two out in the first inning, I turned to my friend Kevin Kernan of the New York Post and said, “He ought to lay one down here. The shortstop and third baseman are in left field. Give Robinson Cano a shot to drive in some runs.”
Alex had other ideas, of course, but Jeter had not forgotten the previous night’s conversation. When he embraced A-Rod at the plate, DJ said, “I guess I can forget about that bunt.”
The collective met the personal for A-Rod, who last year learned the importance of teamwork in earning his first World Series ring. The Yankees’ 27th championship came at the end of a 2009 season that began with Rodriguez’s admission of past use of anabolic steroids, a stain he knows he must live with the rest of his career.
“I said last year that there were things in my life I wish I could change,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve often said things in the past that had been hot air, and I didn’t follow through. I learned that you have to walk the walk.”
“Congratulations to Alex on this great achievement and on adding another highlight to Yankees history,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “We are especially proud he accomplished the feat as a Yankee and here before the most loyal fans in baseball.”
Rodriguez was the second player to hit his 600th home run in a Yankees uniform. The other was Babe Ruth, who once held the record for career home runs. That now belongs to Barry Bonds at 762. Can A-Rod catch him?
“It took three years to the day for me to hit 100, so that’s not on my radar now,” Rodriguez said.
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was playing for the Padres in the game 40 years ago when Willie Mays got his 600th home run in 1970 at San Diego.
“Not too many people can say that they’ve seen that twice,” Gaston said. “I think that if Alex stays healthy he can get to 700. I don’t know if he’ll pass Hank [Aaron, who had 755] or Bonds. What’s interesting to me is that he hit his 600th on the same date that he hit his 500th three years ago. You do the math, and he’d be around 700 at around 38. He has to stay healthy.”
Alex was able to get the ball because it did not go into the stands and was retrieved by a security guard who climbed onto the netting above Monument Park beyond the center field fence at Yankee Stadium. Frankie Babilonia of lower Manhattan became a part of the story just doing his job was rewarded with a bat from A-Rod
“It’s definitely a special number, and I’m certain certainly proud of it,” Rodriguez said. “Maybe years from now I can reflect on it a lot better.”
For now, he will remember that it came in a victory that his team really desperately needed.
Maybe it was standing on third base Tuesday night and watching four players from the Blue Jays breeze past him finishing their home run trots that got to Alex Rodriguez or perhaps he was just waiting for Wednesday, the third anniversary of his reaching 500 career home runs.
Whatever the reason, A-Rod finally became the seventh member of major league baseball’s 600 Club with a first-inning blow off a 2-0 fastball from Shaun Marcum that landed on the netting atop Monument Park.
Considering the traffic around Yankee Stadium Wednesday, there were quite a few ticket holders that had yet to reach their seats before Rodriguez went deep for the first time in nearly two weeks, ending an odyssey that had grown to epic proportions and coincided with a five-game Yankees slide down the American League East standings since July 23, the day after A-Rod got to 599.
They were a second-place club when they took the field Wednesday, but all that seemed to be on everyone’s mind was whether Rodriguez would end this drought that covered 46 at-bats that included a hitless string of 17 at-bats leading into his first plate appearance.
So the long wait is over, and Alex can now breathe freely and intake the rarified air that he shares with Barry Bonds, Henry Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa. Exclusive company that. So now A-Rod’s team can get back to the business at hand, which is to catch the Rays and keep the Red Sox from climbing up their backs.
Oddly, Rodriguez’s quest drew scant national attention beyond the nightly ESPN SportsCenter updates. Not a single national baseball columnist flew into town to witness the event. And when Sunday’s game in St. Petersburg, Fla., was cablecast by TBS, A-Rod was not in the lineup, although he did get an at-bat late in the game as a pinch hitter.
Part of that has to do with the tight-belt budgets of newspapers these days and part with Rodriguez’s admission last year that while in his three seasons in Texas he used anabolic steroids. Nevertheless, fans were into it, even in the games last weekend against the Rays. The crowd at the Stadium went ballistic as the ball went into the air. And it was somehow appropriate that the teammate who first met Alex with a hug at the plate was Derek Jeter, who had led off the game with a single.
One more thing; it was no bum off of whom Rodriguez struck his 600th home run. Marcum took a 10-4 record into the game and was on a three-game winning streak in which he had a 2.04 ERA with one walk and 19 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings. That was not some tomato can out there.
Those in the Stadium had the opportunity to purchase a special commemorative issue of Yankees Magazine entitled “All in Stride, an Extraordinary Look at Alex Rodriguez and his Chase for 600.”
The 32-page souvenir featuring in-depth articles and laden with color photographs will be available for the bargain price of $10 at the Stadium for the duration of the homestand as supplies last.
What Yankees fan hasn’t imagined what it would be like to step unto into the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium and take aim at the inviting right field porch targeted over the years by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams and Mark Teixeira? Or to look out on the expanse of left-center field’s “Death Valley” and recognize the challenge that faced Joe DiMaggio, Elston Howard, Dave Winfield, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez?
Michael Brindisi got that opportunity Saturday. He was one of 140 bat-wielding fans who took part in the Yankee-Steiner Home Run Classic at the Stadium. Michael was the winner of the Yankees Universe contest from among 70 participants to select the most rapid Yankees fan. The photo he submitted showing him wearing a Yankees jacket and backwards cap with both fists in the air and cheering from his seat in the Stadium told it all. It was displayed on the center field video screen as Brindisi stepped up to the plate.
“I wanted to put one in the right field seats,” Michael said. “It’s a lot harder than it looks. I’m going to blame it on the pitcher. He’s not throwing fast enough. Let’s just use that as an excuse. Next time I go up, I’ll say, ‘Put a little hair on that pitch.’ Honestly, I can see myself getting emotional up there, but there are too many dudes around so I’m trying not to cry.”
Brindisi, 27, a musician from Ithaca, N.Y., located in western New York some 240 miles from the Bronx, treated the day as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and vowed to savor every moment.
“This is a dream for any Yankees fan, just to sit in the dugout,” he said “Like, I called the bullpen. I didn’t even know if I was supposed to. To hold the phone they use, I’m relishing every opportunity. Walking up to the plate and hearing my name called [on the public address system] is really special. My grandfather would love that. I wish he was here to hear and see that.”
Theodore Polchinski, a cancer patient, was unable to make the trip to watch his grandson take part in the event co-sponsored by the Yankees and Steiner Sports Collectibles. He took Michael to his first Yankees game 21 years ago at the old Stadium.
“What was special was that 20 years later, last year, I took my grandfather to his first game at the new Stadium,” Brindisi said. “My buddy, who has premium seats, and I just gave him the full ride. He got to eat in the Legends Suite. He has been to World Series games and watched Mantle play years ago, and he said that day, which was a regular-season game against Toronto, was the greatest day of his life.
“I wanted to take him here today, but he’s just too weak, but I’ve got some stories to tell him. Standing here in the tunnel where the players come out from the clubhouse and past the indoor batting cages, this is literally a dream. It does not feel real. It’s surreal.”
Michael was in the first group of the second annual event that took to the cages at 7:45 a.m. on a postcard morning in the Bronx. He was in semi-full regalia with Yankees logos on his white socks and blue shorts and a regulation jersey with Paul O’Neill’s No. 21 as he took his swings in the first of two rounds for each of the participants who paid $1,400 for the privilege. Small wonder Brindisi was ecstatic over winning the Yankees Universe contest.
“I was going to do the pants and everything, but I thought that might be a little too much,” he said. “I saw some guy with the whole outfit, and I thought, ‘Gee, now I’m glad I didn’t do that.’ Paul O’Neill is definitely in the top three for me. I mean, it’s hard for me to pick. I played outfield and had a bit of a temper, so Paul O’Neill was the one. My coach used to tell me I can’t get away with that stuff. The poor Gatorade bucket took a beating when he was around. And I actually love listening to him as a broadcaster. He does a great job on YES. The other two are Bernie and my man Jeter. I mean, wouldn’t be an American if I didn’t have him high on my list.”
Noah Liv, Steiner’s coordinator for team partnerships, said that the groups were divided into three-hour blocks and would extend to 8 p.m. In addition to two batting practice sessions, participants were given a tour of the clubhouse and Monument Park and were treated to a refreshments session that included an audience with former Yankees Roy White, Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone, who signed baseballs for each contestant.
Brindisi, who fronts a band called Michael Brindisi and the New York Rock, was visiting his parents in Herkimer, N.Y., near Utica when he was notified of his contest victory by Christy Lee, director of the Yankees Fan Club.
“I’m a member of Yankees Universe, and I got the e-mail about the event,” Michael said. “I was always taught to join every contest you can because you never know. It was actually perfect. I was home visiting my parents when my cell phone rang. I looked at my mom wide-eyed when Chris Lee from Yankees Universe phoned. ‘This is it. I got the call, didn’t I? So I’m coming up; Joe Girardi needs me. And then she said, ‘Not really, but you did win a contest.’ I was jumping around like a little kid. I don’t care how old you are. You could be 6 or 62, you’d love this.”
Brindisi took the whole experience so seriously that he did some barbering before heading for the Stadium. The rocker normally has spiky hair and a scruffy beard, but he buzzed his head and shaved his face in deference to the Yankees’ dress code established 37 years ago by the late principal owner George Steinbrenner.
“I’m really laying it on; I’m pretending I’m a Yankee today on my one-day contract,” Michael said. “So if I were to go on the field with spiked hair, I know Mr. Steinbrenner would call me up to his office and say, ‘Listen, son, when we brought Johnny Damon over, the first thing we did was cut his hair. You don’t get any special treatment. Get in there and cut your hair.’ So I’m that committed to today that I shaved my head.”
Brindisi, who said he attends from two to four Yankees games a year, did not bring along his girl friend on the trip.
“She’s a Mets fan,” he said, “but that’s better than a Red Sox fan. I could never date a Sox fan. I’m serious, man. I hate ‘em.”
Michael won’t have any problem providing evidence to her and other friends and relatives back home that he indeed took his cuts at the Stadium. Each participant received photographs of the sessions. And there is one more souvenir Michael has just below the index finger on the palm of his left hand.
“I got a blister to prove it,” he said.