June 2012

Yankees Magazine Photo Shoot with Andy Pettitte

June 19, 2012 – A few hours after team photographer Ariele Goldman Hecht and I got back to Yankee Stadium, she took the cover photo for the July Issue of Yankees Magazine.

The photo shoot took place in the home bullpen at Yankee Stadium, and the subject of the cover story will be Andy Pettitte.

From high atop a ladder, Goldman Hecht photographed Pettitte for what will be a most poignant cover. The photo shows Pettitte standing on the mound in full uniform, holding his mitt in one hand and a baseball in the other. The iconic pitcher’s No. 46 is prominent in the photo, which we believe is a fitting tribute.

Even though Pettitte retired for one season, before coming back to the game in 2012, his No. 46 is one of the few numbers that is recognizable to virtually any Yankees fan. We wouldn’t think about publishing a cover photo that only features the back of a player – unless we knew that our readership and fan base would instantly recognize the subject.

We’re confident that this cover will become a valuable keepsake for anyone who picks up a copy of the July Issue of Yankees Magazine.

While I won’t reveal the final cover on this blog (you’ll have to wait until the July Issue comes out to see it), I will share a humorous story that took place as we were setting up for the shoot.

About a half hour before Pettitte was scheduled to arrive in the bullpen, we realized that we didn’t have a baseball out there. Just as I told my colleagues, “I’m going to go to the clubhouse to get a baseball,” a baseball fell out of the sky.

In actuality, one of the Atlanta Braves hitters sailed a home run into the bullpen during their batting practice session. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to make the walk back to the clubhouse. But more importantly, I avoided getting hit with the ball, which landed about two feet from me.

If you’re a fan of Pettitte, who has posted a 2.77 ERA this season and has pitched brilliantly during the Yankees recent 20-4 hot streak, you will enjoy this cover.

–Alfred Santasiere III

5 Minutes with Iron Mike and Spike

June 19, 2012 – In my time with the Yankees, I’ve conducted several interviews, which I believe were successful because of how candid the subjects were.

When I think back on the last few years, my time with Goose Gossage, Joe Torre and Lou Piniella, Alex Rodriguez and Dan Marino come to mind. Those guys spoke openly about baseball, football and life.

But earlier today, I found out what candor is, on a completely different level.

I had the opportunity to spend an hour with Mike Tyson and Spike Lee in New York City, and I quickly learned that the former heavyweight champion says whatever is on his mind.

Lee and Tyson sat down with me a day after it was announced that Tyson will make his Broadway debut in the show “Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth.” The one-man show, which Lee is going to direct, will begin playing at the Longacre Theatre on July 31 for a six-night run.

The interview and photo shoot were set up by James L. Nederlander, who owns several Broadway theaters and who brought this show to the Great White Way. Nederlander, who lent us his office for the interview, is also a limited partner of the New York Yankees.

In the show, Tyson will discuss the intimate details of his roller-coaster life, and if my interview with him is any indication, it will reveal everything you ever wanted to know about him.

“I think it’s going to be very uplifting,” Tyson said. “You’re going to find that I was just a young kid when I was at the height of my professional boxing career. I was just a young, lost kid. I probably had three girlfriends, so that’s probably why I got a divorce when I got married for the first time. I didn’t understand life. I was very violent, because of the environment I was from. You had to be violent to be the top of the food chain.”

Tyson also discussed his relationship with Cus D’Amato, the late trainer who saved him from a life on the streets and helped propel him to become one of the greatest athletes in history.

“Cus was the first person who treated me with any kind of respect,” Tyson said. “No one had any hopes for me including my mother. Once I met Cus, no one ever picked on me again.”

Later in the interview, Tyson discussed how different he is — and how different his life is — today.

“People don’t change,” Tyson said. “We just get wiser. The person that we were before is always in us, reminding us not to be that person. We’re all animals that are taught to be human beings and some of us learn quicker than others. It took me a lot longer than most people.”

Before team photographer Ariele Goldman Hecht and I returned to the Stadium, we took to the street, so that she could capture an image of Tyson and Lee (below) on Broadway.

The rest of the interview with Tyson and Lee is just as riveting as what is in this blog entry, and it will be published in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

5 Minutes with Victor Cruz

June 7, 2012 – After the New York Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007, we published “5 Minutes with” interviews in Yankees Magazine with head coach Tom Coughlin and with quarterback Eli Manning.

In September, we are going to run Q&A features with two stars form the Giants’ 2011 Super Bowl championship team.

I conducted the first of those two interviews last night with wide receiver Victor Cruz, who went from being an undrafted free-agent in 2010 to an all-pro and Super Bowl champion in 2011.

I asked the life-long Yankees fan from nearby Patterson, N.J., what he has enjoyed most about his sudden fame.

“The best thing about becoming an NFL star is being able to have an impact on the community and the people you grew up with,” Cruz said during his first visit to Yankee Stadium. “When you have some success in professional sports, kids look up to you and you become an inspiration to them. In their eyes, you can do no wrong.”

Cruz, who broke the Giants all-time record with 1,536 receiving yards last season, also told me about his signature salsa dance, which he did after each of his nine touchdowns.

“It came from my grandmother,” Cruz said. “She taught me how to dance. One of my coaches came up to me when I was getting ready for my first start, and he said, ‘You should do something to represent your Puerto Rican culture. That’s how I came up with the dance, which has grown into its own entity now.”

–Alfred Santasiere III

5 Minutes with Henry Kissinger

June 7, 2012 – The August Issue of Yankees Magazine will include a “5 Minutes with” Q&A feature that I will relish for a very long time.

On May 29, I interviewed former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger for about a half hour in his New York City office.

Kissinger, who began attending games at the old Yankee Stadium soon after he moved from Germany to the United States in 1938, spoke about his beloved Yankees in the first part of the interview.

“At that time, I could only afford bleacher seats,” Kissinger said. “The bleacher seats at Yankee Stadium were pretty far from home plate, but nothing like the Polo Grounds, where you really couldn’t see well. From the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, I had a great view of Joe DiMaggio playing centerfield. That’s how my interest in baseball really evolved.

“Joe was an enormously graceful outfielder,” Kissinger continued. “When a ball was hit to him, he sometimes looked as if he were loping, but suddenly he would get to the ball. I identified the Yankees with Joe DiMaggio, but in those days — at which time I was working in a factory — it never occurred to me that some day I would meet him. That was beyond the American dream.”

Kissinger then shared his memories of watching Yankees’ games with DiMaggio after the great centerfielder’s career came to an end.

“Joe had an unbelievable memory,” Kissinger said. “I was sitting with him once, and I told him that I had been in Griffith Stadium in Washington — which must have been 15 years earlier — and I saw him hit three home runs in the first game of a double header. And he said, ‘Yes, but in the second game, I hit two drives that went further than the home runs, and they were caught.’”

I also asked Kissinger a few questions about his impact on the world, and his responses were even more brilliant than I expected them to be. When I asked Kissinger how he handled the immense pressure during the time in which he was negotiating a conclusion to the conflict in Vietnam, I felt as if he brought me back to that pivotal time.

“I would fly from Washington, D.C. to Paris to meet the Vietnamese negotiators,” Kissinger said. “I would spend between five and 10 hours with the Vietnamese in each negotiating session. They tried to break our spirit by dragging out the negotiations, but I knew that I couldn’t let those tactics affect me.

“In those situations, you have to do what you have to do,” he continued. “I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself or to complain about the pressure. Just like in sports, pressure is part of the job, but when you’re in that job, you either perform or you drop out.”

At the end of the interview, Kissinger compared his achievements in China to those in the Soviet Union.

“Both relations were important because with the Soviet Union and America possessing large numbers of nuclear weapons, the survival of mankind in a way was at stake,” Kissinger said. “With the Chinese being the largest, most populous country in the world, our ability to establish a cooperative relationship with them would determine the possibility of similar progress around the world. At any rate, you couldn’t make good progress unless you had good relations with China.”

There are several more interesting parts of this interview, which was with the fourth United States secretary of state to appear in Yankees Magazine since 2010  — Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton were the others — and I believe it is a must-read.

–Alfred Santasiere III

June Issue of Yankees Magazine – ON SALE NOW

June 7, 2012 – The June Issue of Yankees Magazine is on sale now.

The cover subject for this edition is Derek Jeter. After publishing several portraits and candid photos of the Yankees captain in the past, we selected a classic action shot for the cover this time around.

In my opinion, it was important to celebrate DJ’s signature swing, which has seen little change over the past 17 years and has produced 3,163 hits (as of June 6). The cover story was written by managing editor Kristina M. Dodge, who wrote about Jeter’s consistency over the years as well as the way he has dominated American League pitching since he came off the DL last June.

Dodge also discussed baseball’s all-time hit list, which Jeter has been rapidly climbing. Since becoming the 28th player in major league history to collect 3,000 hits (on July 9, 2011), Jeter has leapfrogged 11 Hall of Famers including Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield, Wade Boggs and George Brett.

Jeter, who currently stands in 15th place on the all-time list, is 19 hits shy of overtaking Cal Ripken, Jr. who finished his career with 3,184 hits.

When it’s all said and done, who knows where Jeter will end up, but if his performance this season is any indication — he is currently batting .323 — it’s conceivable that he will be among the top five hitters in the history of baseball.

This issue also includes a photo essay on the second annual New York Yankees/New Era Pinstripe Bowl Golf Tournament, which took place on May 15.

After torrential rain storms on the morning of the charity outing, the sun came out, and the celebrities hit the links. Among those in attendance were former Yankees David Cone, Roy White and Mickey Rivers along with GM Brian Cashman. From the gridiron, former New York Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason and long-time Giants Mark Bavaro Howard Cross and Luke Petitgout were on hand.

As I wrote about on this blog a few weeks ago, my feature in the June edition details the Yankees long history of exhibition games at West Point. For this story, which I began researching last fall, I spoke to several former Yankees including Joe Pepitone, who shared one of the many memorable anecdotes from the 50-year tradition.

“Mickey [Mantle] and I stayed up late the night before [we played at West Point], and we missed the bus to West Point,” Pepitone told me. “I was living with Mickey at the St. Moritz Hotel, and Mickey told me to ask the bellhop to get us a limousine.

“Fortunately, we had our uniforms with us, and we literally changed into them on the way up there,” Pepitone continued. “We got there as the game was starting, and Mickey told the driver to pull onto the field. All of the cadets were applauding as we got out of the limo in our uniforms, but the manager wasn’t too happy with us.”

There are plenty of other great stories in this issue, which is available at Yankee Stadium. You can subscribe to Yankees Magazine  — print or online versions — through (800) GO-YANKS or www.yankees.com/publications.

–Alfred Santasiere III