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Special Trip to the Mound in Trenton

July 21, 2014 — For the fourth consecutive season, the Trenton Thunder (Yankees Double-A affiliate) held Yankees Magazine Night.

During the pregame festivities on June 30, the team gave a free copy of the June Issue of Yankees Magazine to the first 1,000 fans through the gates. As they have done in previous seasons, the Thunder invited me and my son, Alfred, to throw ceremonial first pitches.

My ceremonial toss reached the catcher but Alfred fired a pitch right to the mitt for a strike. The crowd was clearly impressed by the 6 year old’s form on the mound, as they gave him a loud ovation.

As I’ve written before, it was a thrill to take the mound at a professional stadium, but having the opportunity to watch my boy throw a ceremonial first pitch was unforgettable. The pride I felt as I watched him calmly walk out to the mound with an ear-to-ear smile on his face, throw the pitch and shake the catcher’s hand, will stay with me for a long time.

For the complete story about Yankees Magazine Night in Trenton, turn to the Bomber Bites section of the August Issue.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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July Issue of Yankees Magazine – ON SALE, JUNE 30

June 29, 2014 – The July Issue of Yankees Magazine will be on sale this Monday, June 30 at Yankee Stadium. You can purchase a subscription to the print version of Yankees Magazine by calling (800) GO-YANKS, and you can purchase a print or digital subscription by visiting http://www.yankees.com/publications.

Dellin Betances, who has a 1.39 ERA in 45 innings of work (as of June 29), graces the cover. Executive editor Ken Derry’s story will take you inside the life of the shy New York native, and it’s a great read.

This July marks the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s major league debut, and this issue includes my feature on The Babe’s favorite hideouts in and around New York (see blog entry below) and the accompanying Q&A with one of the Bambino’s greatest fans, David Wells (see blog entry below).

July also marks the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s farewell address. In recognition of that anniversary, managing editor Nathan Maciborski wrote a wonderful feature on the “Luckiest Man” speech at Yankee Stadium for this issue.

Ruth and Gehrig are not the only Yankees legends on the pages of the July Issue. The Yankees recently held their 68th annual Old-Timers’ Day at the Stadium, and our photographers put together a magical collection of images for a photo essay.

This was an especially meaningful Old-Timers’ Day because the Yankees dedicated a plaque to Hall of Famer Goose Gossage during the festivities. I spent some with Gossage prior to his big day and in the moments after the plaque was unveiled for a Q&A piece that follows the Old-Timers’ Day photo essay (see blog entry below).

Lastly, if you’re a football fan, don’t miss my “5 Minutes with…” interviews with New York Giants legends Bill Parcells and Phil Simms (see blog entries below).

Enjoy this edition of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Gov. Christie’s Visit to Yankee Stadium

June 29, 2014 – Earlier this week, I watched a few innings of the fourth annual Bombers Boomer Broadway Softball Classic at Yankee Stadium. Several former Yankees, including Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, Charlie Hayes, Graeme Lloyd and Jeff Nelson participated in the event.

As the case was in previous years, the event included two seven-inning games. In the first game of the afternoon, several Broadway stars squared off against each other, and in the second game, a team led by former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason took on a squad made up of the former Yankees along with members of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Boomer Esiason Foundation — which fights Cystic Fibrosis — the Actors Fund and the Wounded Warrior Project.

Toward the end of the second game, I caught up with Esiason’s third baseman, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, in the dugout.

“First of all, we’re out here for a great cause,” said the Garden State’s 55th governor, who was sporting jersey number 55. “I’m happy to be here because of that. As a guy who grew up in this area and played baseball in high school, getting to play on the field at Yankee Stadium is amazing.”

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Recollections of Derek Jeter — by David Cone

June 29, 2014 — A few weeks ago, I had dinner at NYY Steak in Manhattan with a group of friends that included perfect game pitchers Don Larsen, David Wells and David Cone (see photo below with the perfect game pitchers, Matthew Shauger of the New York Giants and me).

After our group finished dinner, the perfect game pitchers were interviewed for a special episode of Yankees Magazine TV show, which is on the YES Network.

Listening to Larsen, Wells and Cone discuss their respective perfect games was just as interesting as our candid dinner conversation — and trust me, it was interesting.

The half-hour show about the perfect games is scheduled to air next month.

I also had the opportunity to ask Cone a few questions about Derek Jeter for one of the many vignettes on the captain, which are scheduled to appear in the September Issue of Yankees Magazine. Below are Cone’s words about Jeter.

Alfred Santasiere III

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I was Derek’s teammate during the first few years of his career, and he was remarkably mature from Day One. He was levelheaded and very grounded. As veterans, we would challenge the rookies. We would look for things that they would do wrong, and Derek never gave us any material. He was way ahead of his years and he knew how to handle himself.

I’ve been around a lot of great teammates, guys who had ups and downs and guys who showed emotion. With Derek, you couldn’t tell from one day to the next whether he got four hits or struck out four times. He was always mentally prepared to play well. He knew how to turn the page better than anybody I’ve ever seen.

Derek made other players better simply by the way he showed up for work. He took the game seriously, and he was prepared to play every day. In those ways, he reminded me of Don Mattingly. Derek’s work ethic and energy were infectious.

Derek’s greatest accomplishment has been his consistently. To be able to put up big numbers for as long as he has is extremely difficult. He’s been consistently great because of his relentless drive. No one goes about their business with more of an unwavering desire to be the best than Derek.

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Q&A with David Wells — about The Babe

June 29, 2014 — Earlier this month, I spent a day at the Leewood Golf Club with former Yankees pitcher and Babe Ruth admirer David Wells. While we were at the club, I interviewed Wells about his fondness of the Bambino for a sidebar to my feature story on Ruth’s favorite hideouts (which will be published in the July Issue).

In addition to the places I detailed in the blog entry below, the Leewood golf course is also featured in my story. Ruth was a member at the Eastchester, New York club from 1938 through 1944, and his presence is still very much alive on the grounds today.

There is a lounge named after The Babe, and its walls are decked with photos of him — several of which were taken on the course. Additionally, stories about Ruth are often mentioned on the 17th hole. Legend has it that Ruth’s drives from the tee often sailed more than 300 yards and reached the green. On many of those occasions, he scored an eagle, sinking the ball on two strokes.

Ruth’s greatest legacy at the course is a tunnel that connects the Bronx River Parkway to Leewood Drive — a small road that the club is located off of. Prior to when Ruth joined the club, the tunnel was too narrow for automobiles to pass through. It was instead used as a cattle crossing. But in order to make the commute from New York City quicker for Ruth, city officials widened the tunnel so that one vehicle at a time could fit through it.
After our group sank their putts on the 18th hole, I brought Wells to the tunnel for a photo op. Yankees photographer Matt Ziegler snapped a few shots of Wells on sidewalk, and then the pitcher made the next photo even better. In the few seconds during which there were no cars coming through the tunnel, Wells ran into the street and posed for the photo below.

After the photo shoot, Wells spoke to me about the Babe.

“He’s the most recognized athlete of all time because he dominated his sport like no one ever has, and he still burned the candle at both ends,” Wells said. “He was the first rock star in sports.

“Anywhere The Babe spent time is a historical place,” Wells continued. “I have a great appreciation for places like this. I was looking at all the trees and wondering if they were here when he played on this course. I hit a few trees, and I wondered if he might have hit the same ones. It was nice to play on a course that he played on.”

To read the entire interview, pick up your copy of the July Issue of Yankees Magazine, which will be on sale on Monday June 30.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Reflections of Derek Jeter – by Paul O’Neill

June 20, 2014 – A few days after I spoke with Eli Manning about Derek Jeter, I interviewed former Yankees rightfielder Paul O’Neill about the captain for another first-person vignette that will appear in the September Issue (see blog entry below).

O’Neill’s recollections about Jeter are below. Enjoy this unique perspective on the captain’s great career, and be sure to grab the September Issue to read what so many others had to say about Jeter.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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By the middle of 1996, I knew Derek was going to be a great player. His winning attitude and his competitiveness were evident very early in his career.

Derek came up at the perfect time. The Yankees had turned things around and made the playoffs the year before. Sometimes, it seems as if things just happen for a reason. Derek was at the right point of his career at the right time with the right team. And, our team needed him at that time. Derek gave us a shot of youthful emotion. It was a great fit.

Derek was never intimidated by any situation on the field — even during his first postseason. In his mind, he always thought he would succeed in big at-bats. That confidence comes from who he is inside, but he also had a lot to draw from because he had succeeded in clutch spots from the time he got to the majors.

When I think back on being on the same field with Derek, the first moment that comes to my mind is his flip play in Oakland during the 2001 American League Division Series. That’s not a play you practice. People were going in different directions, and it was very hectic out there. He was in the exact right place at the right time. It wasn’t a coincidence that he happened to be there on an overthrow, so that he could field the ball and flip it perfectly to the plate. Some of the great things people do in the game are just instinctual, and he has great instincts.

More than anything else, Derek will be remembered as a winner. He’s a great baseball player who enjoys the game. That’s easy to say about a lot of people but I truly mean it about Derek.

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Reflections of Derek Jeter — by Eli Manning

June 20, 2014 – In our coverage of Derek Jeter in the September Issue of Yankees Magazine, we will be publishing several first-person vignettes about the captain. Those recollections will be authored by Yankees greats who played alongside Jeter and by with several icons from other sports.

Last week, I sat down with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning at the team’s training facility in New Jersey to talk about Jeter. Below are the two-time Super Bowl MVP’s words about Jeter, as they will appear in the September Issue.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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When I was a rookie with the New York Giants, dealing with the adjustment of being a starting quarterback in the NFL and struggling to get my first win, I got a very meaningful call. Derek reached out to me to let me know that he was pulling for me, and he told me to keep my head up and keep working hard. He assured me that things would get easier. The fact that the captain of the New York Yankees, a guy who had already won four championships, took the time to call me, meant the world to me.

Derek remembered what it was like being a young athlete in New York City dealing with a lot of pressure. Although he was at the height of his career when he called me, he reminded me that it wasn’t always that way for him. It felt good to hear a guy who owned the town talk about the struggles he had in the minors years before. I never forgot that call because it helped me at a time when I really need a boost.

I’ve always been able to relate to the pressure that Derek is under because as the quarterback of the Giants or the captain of the Yankees, the media and fans expect you to go out there and be perfect all the time. Although that’s the goal, it’s an unreachable goal. Through all of the ups and downs, Derek has always remained calm, and focused on the next opponent.

Derek’s sense of calm has helped him play well in the clutch. You have to be able to respond in those big moments. That’s how you win championships. That’s how you get players to follow you. Whether you’re down by a few runs or a touchdown, if your teammates have the confidence that you are going to step up in your role, they will rise to the occasion, as well. You always want a guy who feels that he can come back from any deficit, and Derek is one of those guys. He’s got confidence in himself, and that has rubbed off on his teammates. The bigger the moment, the better he plays.

Derek is among the greatest athletes to play in New York. His accomplishments on the field, the way he has handled himself off the field and the way he respects the game are the things that make him so special. He’s a great role model, not only to young people, but also to other professional athletes. He’s done it the right way, and he’s done it the right way for a long time.

Eli Manning

Exclusive Q&A with Goose Gossage – in Monument Park

June 1, 2014 – On the day that Yankees team photographer Matthew Ziegler snapped the image of Goose Gossage that will appear on the 2014 Old-Timers’ Day commemorative cover (see blog entry directly below), I sat down with the Hall of Fame pitcher for an exclusive interview for a Q&A that will appear in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine.

The conversation took place in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park, where, on June 22, a plaque will be dedicated to Gossage. For Gossage, the early May trip to the place where the greatest Yankees are honored, was his first.
“This is the first time I’ve seen the monuments in the new Stadium,” Gossage said. “It’s an incredible space. When I used to come out to the bullpen at the old Yankee Stadium, I would glance at the monuments, and I always appreciated how special they are. I had the privilege of playing for nine different teams but there is nothing like the history of the Yankees. When you look at all the monuments out here, it’s hard to comprehend that so many great players all played for the same organization.”

I also asked Gossage to discuss the excitement he felt when he found out about the honor of getting a plaque in Monument Park.

“It’s very humbling,” Gossage said. “I was glad that I was sitting down when I got the news because I was overwhelmed.”

At the end of the interview, I asked Gossage to share his thoughts on whose plaque he is most proud to be immortalized with.

“I would hate to slight anyone but when your plaque is going to be in the same area as Babe Ruth’s, that’s incredible,” Gossage said. “Of course, guys like Yogi [Berra], Thurman [Munson], Elston [Howard], Gator [Ron Guidry] and Whitey [Ford] are very special to me because I knew them personally.”

Enjoy the rest of the interview on the pages of the July Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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June Issue of Yankees Magazine – ON SALE, JUNE 2

June 1, 2014 – The June Issue of Yankees Magazine will be on sale this Monday, June 2 at Yankee Stadium. You can purchase a subscription to the print version of Yankees Magazine by calling (800) GO-YANKS, and you can purchase a print or digital subscription by visiting http://www.yankes.com/publications.

The June edition features three very special covers. Centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury graces the cover that will be on sale at the Stadium during all but two games in June and that will also be sent out to subscribers and newsstand distributors.

Yankees chief photographer Ariele Goldman Hecht took the Ellsbury cover portrait on the day that the team signed the star outfielder. In the photo, Ellsbury is wearing a gray suit and is sitting on a luggage trunk. The trunk, which has a Yankees top-hat logo painted on the front of it, gives the photo an old school, throwback look, and the cover’s white background really makes Ellsbury stand out on the page.

In my opinion, our photographers, editors and graphic designers have put together some great Yankees Magazine covers this season, but this is one for the ages.

On June 21, the Yankees will be dedicating a plaque in Monument Park to Tino Martinez. The former first baseman, who authored two of the greatest postseason moments in Yankees history, stopped by the Stadium for a Yankees Magazine photo shoot and exclusive interview with contributing writer Jack O’Connell.

Team photographer James Petrozzello snapped a photo of Martinez in the outfield seats, and that portrait will grace the commemorative cover that will only be available at Yankee Stadium on June 21. O’Connell’s compelling story about Martinez’ run in pinstripes will be in the magazine all month.

The third cover will be available at Yankee Stadium on Old-Timers’ Day, which falls on June 22 this year. An image of Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, taken by team photographer Matthew Ziegler, is on that commemorative cover.

Prior to the Old-Timers’ Day festivities, a Monument Park plaque will be dedicated to Gossage. Along with the commemorative cover, my Q&A feature with Gossage and his former teammates Ron Guidry and Bucky Dent (see blog entry below) will be in the June Issue all month.

In addition to those stories, my feature on the 30th anniversary of Don Mattingly’s 1984 batting title (see blog entry below) and executive editor Ken Derry’s feature on the Yankees current first baseman, Mark Teixeira, are part of this impressive issue.

Enjoy this edition of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Memorable Q&A with Derek Jeter and Ernie Banks

June 1, 2014 – During the Yankees recent series at Wrigley Field, I sat down with two of the greatest shortstops of all time.

Derek Jeter and Ernie Banks spent about 20 minutes with me in front of the visiting dugout at the Friendly Confines for a Q&A feature that will be published in September Issue of Yankees Magazine.

In the beginning of the conversation with the legendary shortstops, I asked Jeter to share his thoughts on the impact that Banks — who stands over 6 feet tall — had on the future of the position.

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese, who where two of the other great shortstops from Mr. Banks’ era,” said the 6-foot, 3-inch Jeter. “Those guys epitomized who played that position back then, shorter guys without a lot of power. Mr. Banks redefined the position, and he really paved the way for taller players like me to get the opportunity to play shortstop.”

A few minutes later, Banks, who won two National League MVP Awards and finished his career with 512 home runs, spoke about his admiration for Jeter.

“He’s a remarkable player, and that’s proven by the fact that he is still playing shortstop,” Banks said. “We all slow down a little as we get older, and I moved to first base after about 10 seasons at shortstop. But Derek has done what no one else has, and that’s remarkable. He’s accomplished so many great things. He’s knowledgeable about every aspect of playing the game. He studies the opposing pitchers, and he learned how to hit the ball to all fields at a young age. He’s an amazing young player. When he got his 3,000th hit on a home run, that was really special for me to watch.”

The two greats also discussed how much it has meant to them to only wear one uniform during their respective careers.

“Playing my entire career in New York has always been important to me,” Jeter said. “I’ve been fortunate because in this day and age, it’s more difficult to stay with one team than when Mr. Banks was playing. With free agency, there is so much player movement, and teams get rid of players when there are younger players available who can play the same position a little better.”

“It means the world to me,” Banks followed. “We played all day games in Chicago back then because they didn’t have lights at Wrigley Field until 1988. That was something I got used to and really enjoyed. The only night games we played were when we were on the road. If I had played for another team and I had to play most of the games at night, it would have felt like every game was an away game for me.”

As the interview wound down, Jeter shared his feelings about playing in Wrigley Field during his final season, and when he concluded his thought, the ever-humorous Banks hit Jeter with a question he didn’t expect.

“You’re not really going to quit, are you?” Banks asked.

“After this season,” Jeter replied.

“You can’t do that,” Banks countered with a laugh.

Jeter paused for a second and responded.

“Yes I can.”

Don’t miss the rest of this historic interview in the September Issue of Yankees Magazine, which will be dedicated to Derek Jeter.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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