April 2011

May Issue of Yankees Magazine defines diversity in Yankees Coverage

April 26, 2011 – On May 10, the May issue of Yankees Magazine will be on-sale at Yankee Stadium, through 800-GO-YANKS and Yankees.com/publications and on newsstands.

I am especially excited about this issue because I believe it defines the diversity of our Yankees coverage.

In this issue, Hall of Fame writer Bill Madden takes you inside one of Tampa’s finest restaurants and George Steinbrenner’s favorite hangout. Malio’s Prime Steakhouse  holds so many classic stories about the Boss, and Bill shares some of the best of them in this story.

After Bill took me to Malio’s for the first time (Spring Training 2010) and I spent a few minutes with him and the restaurant’s owner, Malio Iavarone (pictured below), I knew this would be must-read story.

There’s also a piece on long-time Yankees head athletic trainer Gene Monahan, whose career has spanned five decades. In the story, staff writer Jack O’Connell discusses the vast differences in athletic training from the ’60s to today along with Monahan’s contributions to so many Yankees teams. It is an interesting read about an inspirational man.

Associate editor Nathan Maciborski’s contribution to this issue came in the form of a story about Marshall Fogel, a Denver-based attorney, whose collection of Yankees memorabilia rivals any you will ever see. If you like Nathan’s feature, I suggest you check out the York Yankees Museum (here at Yankee Stadium), because some of Fogel’s most prized possessions are there on loan.

The May issue also includes stories about two Yankees superstars from two different eras.

Former Yankees director of media relations, Rick Cerrone wrote a feature about one of Mickey Mantle’s best games. The game, in which Mantle went 5-for-5, took place in Mantle’s final big-league season. If you weren’t around when Mantle played, you probably know nothing about this 1968 gem. And if you were around at that time, you probably remember how much Mantle’s play had deteriorated because of injuries. That more than anything else, made Mantle’s accomplishments on that May afternoon spectacular.

Rick left no stones unturned in his research, and he wrote about the uniqueness of that game brilliantly.

And, finally, when Alex Rodriguez allowed team photographer Ariele Goldman Hecht and I to spend two days in Miami with him this winter, we knew that we had the opportunity to bring you a must-read story.

The photos that Ariele took of A-Rod during his cardio, weight training and baseball workouts (pictured below) are as stunning as they are unique.

In an effort to enhance the story, I interviewed some of the game’s most iconic players about A-Rod. The time I spent with Hank Aaron in New York City (pictured below) and Willie Mays in Arizona will stand out in my mind forever, and I believe their candid words about Rodriguez will resonate with our fan base as much as the description of his grueling workout regimen.

As I’ve said many times before, we don’t just cover what goes on between the baselines. We cover the Yankees from every imaginable angle.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Gone Fishin’

April 21, 2011 – In late May, I will be on a fishing trip in Colorado.

I will be fly fishing with Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, who spends so much of his time on the water these days. In fact, Gossage’s passion for fishing began when he was a kid, and he hasn’t stopped catching trout since then.

This story will provide Yankees Magazine readers with exclusive insight into where Gossage found refuge for the pressures of baseball, and where he goes to enjoy his post-baseball life today.

Gossage’s agreement to take me with him on a fishing excursion came with one condition.

“You have to learn how to fly fish before you come to Colorado,” Goose told me during our December conversation. “Take some lessons before the trip, because there won’t be time to learn once you get out here.”

I took Gossage’s request to heart. On Tuesday, I received an all-day fly-fishing lesson from Andrew Moy (pictured with me below). Moy owns and operates Tight Lines Fly Fishing, which is New Jersey’s most complete full-service fly shop. In addition to running the Pine Brook, New Jersey store for the last decade, Moy has also established himself as one of the premier fly fisherman and fly-fishing teachers in the North East.

My experience with Moy confirmed his reputation — he is the best in the business. Our lesson began with a one-hour tutorial in the parking lot behind the shop, where I learned the intricacies of casting a fly rod. According to Moy, I made steady progress during that time. But as I expected, things got a lot more difficult when we began fishing in the Raritan River.

The challenges I faced while wading in the river included keeping my balance in waist-high water that was moving quickly down stream, not casting into any trees, which lined the banks of the river, and ultimately, hooking and landing fish.

Needless to say, those factors didn’t exist in the parking lot – which I equated to batting practice.

It took some time getting used to, but I was able to land three fish – two brook trout and one brown trout that ranged in size from 14 inches to 17 inches.

With a little more than a month before I head west, I have my work cut out for me. While I have fished for bass since I was a kid, fly-fishing is a totally different animal.

I am hopeful that my fly-fishing skills will be respectable by the time I am sharing a river with Goose. But I am certain that the feature story about Goose’s favorite pastime will be a must-read.

–Alfred Santasiere III

The First of its Kind – Yankees Magazine to Publish Women’s Issue

April 21, 2011 – Later this summer, the New York Yankees will be publishing an issue of Yankees Magazine dedicated to women.

This commemorative issue is truly the first of its kind, as no other team has ever dedicated an issue of their official publication to women.

This magazine, which will be published in either August or September depending on other editorial factors, will lead off with a section about the women who have made an impact in the Yankees front office. That section will include a story about Yankees assistant GM Jean Afterman.

There will also be a feature story about the philanthropic work of the wives of so many of today’s Yankees players. I am writing one of the two sidebars that will accompany that piece, and it details the life of Rachel Robinson.

Rachel Robinson is Jackie Robinson’s widow, and she was a driving force in his career. I interviewed Mrs. Robinson last Friday at Yankee Stadium, prior to a Jackie Robinson Day pre-game ceremony.

I had never met Mrs. Robinson before the interview, and I was looking forward to our conversation. I left the interview with an even more profound respect for her than I had before we spoke. Mrs. Robinson is as smart as she is courageous, and her kindness is perhaps her greatest characteristic.

In the interview, Mrs. Robinson discussed many of the conversations she and her late husband had about his decision to enter Major League Baseball and break the color barrier.

“We talked at length about what it would mean in our lives and what it would mean to society,” Mrs. Robinson said. “But there was no decision that had to be made. We knew that we were going to move forward with it.”

Mrs. Robinson also talked to me about the ways she helped her husband cope with the tremendous level of racial discrimination he dealt with.

“I attended every game Jack played at Ebbits Field, because I wanted to see for myself what he had to endure,” she said. “We would talk about what happened each day on the way home. We didn’t want to have those conversations in front of our kids, so we really made the most of the car rides home.”

Since Jackie Robinson’s death in 1972, Mrs. Robinson, who was a psychiatric nurse for many years, worked diligently to create and grow the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The foundation provides four-year scholarships to disadvantaged students of color. To date, the foundation has provided more than 1,400 scholarships to hard-working students.

The Women’s Issue will also contain features on several people who have furthered the development of women’s sports. Some the people who are spotlighted in that section are Jennie Finch (former University of Arizona and U.S.A. Olympic team star softball pitcher), Mike Candrea (University of Arizona head softball coach), Danica Patrick (NASCAR driver) and tennis icon Billie Jean King.

I will write more about the Women’s Issue over the next few months, but for now, I will sign off with a very special thank you to the person who proposed the idea of this ground-breaking project to me – my wife Tiana. This is truly her brainchild, and I can’t wait to present her with the first copy of the issue.

–Alfred Santasiere III

Lombardi comes to Broadway — and to Yankees Magazine

April 16, 2011 – In addition to my Q & A with Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard, there will be a “Five Minutes with…” interview in the May issue of Yankees Magazine with actor Dan Lauria.

You may remember Lauria from his role as the gruff father in the TV show, The Wonder Years, which ran from 1988 through 1993.

These days, Lauria plays Vince Lombardi in the Broadway show, Lombardi.

I had lunch with Lauria and his co-star Chris Sullivan (seen on the righthand side of the photo below) at Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant and Sports Bar earlier this week. Our two-hour laughter-filled discussion included a host of stories that Lauria had learned about Lombardi as he prepared for the role.

Of those anecdotes, my favorite ones involved Fuzzy Thurston, a long-time offensive guard for the Green Bay Packers.

“Fuzzy told me that Lombardi loved to tell jokes, but he wasn’t very good at it,” Lauria said. “He would tell a joke, and no-one would laugh. No one understood the coach’s humor. Fuzzy also told me that the first time they practiced the famous power sweep, he made a mistake because he was over thinking it. Lombardi came up to him and said, ‘If I wanted a brain surgeon out here, I would have drafted a doctor. Now, just go out and hit the right guy.’”

I also asked Lauria about the many sports icons who have frequented Lombardi over the last few months. His response was fascinating.

“I always focus on one person in the crowd during the scenes in which coach Lombardi is addressing the team,” Lauria said. “A few weeks ago, I was yelling toward a guy in the crowd, and I thought he looked familiar. Then I realized… it was Don Shula! I couldn’t believe I had just reprimanded the coach who led a team to the only perfect season about not being perfect.

“Frank Gifford said, ‘What coach Lombardi would have liked the most is the effort you put into playing this role,’” Lauria continued. “And, Hank Aaron told me that he used to work out with coach Lombardi after the season and that Lombardi used to ask him to try out for the Packers, because he admired him so much.”

A few days before our lunch, I saw Lombardi for the first time. It was one of the best Broadway shows I have seen, and I would recommend it to anyone — not just to sports enthusiasts.

One line that resonated with me came in a scene in which Lombardi was addressing the Green Bay Packers for the first time. Mid-way through his speech, the coach said, “I want the Packers to become the Yankees of football.”

“That speaks to the greatness of the New York Yankees,” Lauria said. “Coach Lombardi always talked to his players about the Yankees. Coach was a New Yorker, and he went to Fordham University in the Bronx. He was a devout Yankees fan, and he was very proud that he had played and coached at Yankee Stadium.”

 –Alfred Santasiere III



The most Exclusive Look at A-Rod… Coming in May

April 4, 2011 – This week, I am settling in to write the Alex Rodriguez feature, which I began conducting interviews for in December.

As I mentioned in this blog over the last few weeks, I believe that this story, which will be published in the May issue of Yankees Magazine, will be the most exclusive portrayal about the Yankees third baseman anywhere.

In addition to the time I spent with Rodriguez in the batting cages of George M. Steinbrenner Field during Spring Training, I was fortunate enough to spend two days with the slugger in Miami.

During the February trip to South Florida, Rodriguez brought Yankees team photographer Ariele Goldman Hecht and I along for two days worth of workouts.

The story will describe the offseason regimen of baseball’s hardest working player. To back that claim up, I will leave you with a brief synopsis (and a few photos) of the second day we spent with Rodriguez. And please note …for most of the offseason, A-Rod is on the diamond, in the gym or on the football field six days a week from 8:00 a.m. (at the latest) until noon. Additionally, from December through the time A-Rod leaves Miami for Spring Training, he completes a cardiovascular workout that is as grueling as the one listed below. As I watched Rodriguez complete “Hell Day” I was left with a sense of amazement.

Friday February 4:

7:58 a.m. –Rodriguez arrives at the University of Miami’s football weight room.

8:00 a.m. – 8:40 a.m. – Rodriguez works out on an exercise bike.

8:45 a.m. – Rodriguez walks to the University of Miami’s practice football field for what is referred to as the “Hell Day” obstacle course.

8:45 a.m. – The obstacle course begins as Rodriguez and his workout partner, Jorge Posada, pull in a 30-yard rope that has 200 pounds of weights tied to it. After pulling the rope in, they run 30 yards with the loose rope and pull it in again. And they repeat the exercise a third time – totaling 90 yards in which they pulled 200 pounds, hand over hand.

8:50 a.m. – Rodriguez and Posada move to station two of the Hell Day obstacle course. They are now hitting giant (monster truck) tires with 16-pound sledgehammers.

8:55 a.m. – Step 3 of the obstacle course commences as Rodriguez and Posada turn over 270 pound monster truck tires, moving them 20 yards downfield and 20 yards back up the field – 40 yards in total.

9:00 a.m. – Rodriguez and Posada move to station four, where they are pushing football sleds 30 yards downfield and 30 yards back – 60 yards in total. This step is completed in less than five minutes, because both players are moving the sleds with maximum strength.

9:04 a.m. – The fifth and final step begins, and it consists of five minutes of one-hand (scissor) pushups. Rodriguez, who later told me, “I would never consider not finishing one of these workouts,” completes much of the four minutes worth of pushups with his eyes closed, due to the strain on his body.

9:09 a.m. – 9:12 am – Rodriguez and Posada walk slowly to the first station. After a three-minute breather, they go through the course for the second time.

9:35 a.m. – 9:50 a.m. – At the conclusion of their second time through the obstacle course, Rodriguez and Posada sit on a wooden bench that is located between the football field and the entrance to the weight room.

9:51 a.m. – 10:02 a.m. – Rodriguez and Posada pick up a baseball and their mitts to play catch from about 25 yards apart.

10:04 a.m. – Rodriguez enters the weight room and goes through a 30-minute routine that includes the following:

*Three sets of clean hi-pulls. The first set consisted of five lifts with 210 pounds of weight. The second set consisted of five lifts with 225 pounds of weight and the third set consisted of five lifts with 240 pounds of weight.

*Three sets of speed squats. Each set consisted of 10 reps starting with 124 pounds and ending with 146 pounds.

*Two sets of three-way lunges and two sets of leg curls

10:41 a.m. – Because of a lunch commitment, Rodriguez elects to skip what would have normally come next – an hour long hitting session in his private batting cage.

–Alfred Santasiere III