March 14, 2011 — Earlier today, the cover of the Commemorative
Opening Day Program was finalized (see it for the first time below).
This is truly a sneak peak, since the magazine hasn’t even
printed yet. If you follow the Yankees
Magazine Homestand Blog, you are seeing this cover before anyone else.
Please take a moment to let me know what you think of the
Opening Day cover, and please stay tuned for more Yankees Magazine covers during the season. I will continue to post
them here first.
And even if you are not attending the Yankees Opening Day
game against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on March 31, you can still
purchase the game program. To do so, please call (800) GO-YANKS.
–Alfred Santasiere III
March 14, 2011 – A few weeks ago, I spoke with Joe Girardi
about a dozen or so topics. We talked about Alex Rodriguez and his tireless
work ethic. We discussed A.J. Burnett, and Girardi expounded on why he is so
confident that the pitcher will rebound. Then I asked the skipper about
Rafael Soriano, the Yankees new eighth inning man.
That’s when the manager’s demeanor changed. His eyes lit up,
and he began to smile.
“Rafael is going to change our entire game plan,” Girardi
said. “There’s going to be a lot of pressure on the other team to score enough
runs during the first seven innings of each game.”
Girardi’s optimism is warranted. Soriano established himself
as one of the best closers in baseball last year with the AL East champs, the
Tampa Bay Rays. He led the American League in saves with 45 — and only blew two
save opportunities — and he posted a career-best 1.73 ERA.
Soriano is a power pitcher, who struck out 57 batters last
season, while only walking 14.
Now Soriano is the bridge to Mariano Rivera, who is coming
off another brilliant season in the greatest career a relief pitcher has ever
Are Mo and Sori the best one-two punch in baseball today?
Are they the best late-innings tandem in Yankees history? Will there presence shorten games for opposing teams?
In the next issue of Yankees
Magazine, which will be on sale on March 31 — Opening Day 2011 — I take my
best shot at answering those questions and at providing an in-depth look at the
newest Yankees star.
Besides talking to Girardi for this story, I spoke with
Soriano on the day he signed with the team (see photo below). I also asked
Derek Jeter for his take on just how difficult Soriano is to hit, and pitching
coach Larry Rothschild gave me his insight on Soriano’s repertoire and command.
The April issue also includes the first of two “New York
Yankees Alumni Newsletters” that will be published in 2011. This month’s alumni
spotlight is on Bubba Crosby, who was a fan-favorite earlier in the decade and
now runs a huge landscaping business in Texas.
And, earlier this winter, Yankees
Magazine senior editor Kristina Dodge participated in the first-ever Women’s
Fantasy Camp. In between swings, Kristina was taking notes for a very special
first-person account of the camp that will also appear in April.
–Alfred Santasiere III
March 7, 2011 – Last week — in between trips to Tampa — I
traveled to Arizona to conduct a highly sought after interview.
On March 3, I met with Willie Mays at his house in
Scottsdale and discussed the career of Alex Rodriguez with him. The interview
took place at Mays’ dinning room table, and it lasted about 30 minutes.
Mays is one of several all-time baseball greats who I interviewed
over the last few months for a feature-story on Alex Rodriguez, which will
appear in the May issue of Yankees
I spent some time with Hank Aaron, Don Mattingly and Yogi
Berra in New York City earlier in the year, and I met up with Mike Schmidt in
Clearwater, Florida two weeks ago.
The Mays interview will make what I feel is an already
special story even more exclusive. When I initially reached out to Mays through
his personal assistant, I was told that he rarely does one-on-one interviews,
and that she couldn’t imagine why someone from the New York Yankees wanted to
speak with him. I asked Mays’ assistant to let the Say Hey Kid know that
Rodriguez and I put together a wish list of players whose words we wanted to be
in the story — and Mays was at the top the list.
That got Mays to “mull it over” for a week.
Then the Mays’ camp asked me who else I spoke to for this
story, and I provided them with the names above.
A day later, I got the call I had been hoping for. “He said
yes,” Mays’ assistant said a second after I picked up the phone.
Less than a week later, I was on my way to the Southwest.
On the day of the interview — a mere 20 minutes before I was
scheduled to meet Mays at Scottsdale Stadium — the Hall of Famer called an
audible, asking me to come to his house for the interview.
I was humbled by the opportunity to spend a half hour with
Willie Mays at his dinning room table. It was certainly one of those times that
But it was real, and it was a challenge. Mays, who hit 660
home runs, was selective in the topics he was willing to discuss.
To use a baseball comparison, I felt like a pitcher who
didn’t have his best stuff for the first 20 minutes of the conversation. But I
stayed with the list of questions I had prepared, and it paid off. In the last ten minutes of the
interview, Mays spoke candidly about A-Rod, even discussing the first time he
heard about him.
“A scout for the Seattle Mariners told me about this guy who
had just been called up,” Mays said. “He said to me, ‘Willie, this kid is only
19 years old, but I honestly think he can do everything you did in the game.
The first time I saw Alex swing the bat, I agreed with the scout.”
Stay tuned to this blog over the next month, because I will
be posting several more entries about the interviews and experiences that went
into my one-of-a-kind story on Alex Rodriguez, including two days I spent with
A-Rod in Miami.
–Alfred Santasiere III
February 28, 2011 – Moments before the first pitch of 2011
was tossed, the Yankees paid tribute to George Steinbrenner in a city that
benefited from the late owner’s charitable works for three decades.
In a heartfelt ceremony, Ron Guidry, Joe Girardi, Goose
Gossage and Derek Jeter each read a part of a plaque that resides near a larger
than life statue of Steinbrenner outside the aptly named George M. Steinbrenner
Field. Steinbrenner’s wife Joan, along with his daughters Jennifer and Jessica,
followed the plaque dedication by each laying a rose on the interlocking NY
logo that is painted on the grass behind home plate.
The interlocking NY was chosen over home plate because the
ceremony’s organizer felt that it was important to incorporate some symbolism.
George Steinbrenner shaped the Yankees image for a long
time, and in my opinion, there was no better place for those roses to sit.
A complete wrap-up of the day with reactions from players
that span nearly four decades will be published in the April issue of Yankees Magazine.
–Alfred Santasiere III
February 27, 2011 – In a rare break from baseball this
spring, Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello and I traveled a few hours
east of Tampa to see the Orlando Magic take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on
Friday night (Feb. 25).
The Magic won convincingly behind a David versus Goliath
performance by all-world center Dwight Howard. Howard scored 40 points, blocked
six shots and brought down 16 rebounds. I stopped counting the number of slam
dunks Howard amassed after he reached eight.
Following the game, I sat down with Howard in the Magic
locker room for a “5 Minutes with…” piece, which will be published in the May
issue of Yankees Magazine.
One of the topics we discussed was Howard’s affinity for
“When I was in high school, I really enjoyed playing baseball
as much as basketball,” the 6-foot, 11-inch star said. “I was a pitcher, and I
had a good fastball. I really liked to watch Randy Johnson pitch because he was
so tall and he used his height to his advantage.”
Howard also spoke to me about a familiar face he sees each
“CC Sabathia is here a lot during spring training,” Howard
said. “He has come up to me before a few of our games and said, ‘I’m here to
see you play.’ I really admire him
for that, and I’m honored that he wants to take the time to see me out there.”
–Alfred Santasiere III
February 27, 2011 – If you didn’t join the Yankees Universe
Fan Club in 2010, which was its first year of existence, don’t wait any longer.
Yankees Universe has been re-vamped and now includes four
levels of membership. While the
merchandise that is offered varies from level to level, all Yankees Universe
members are privy to a members-only website with exclusive content.
That content includes feature-length stories that won’t even
be published in Yankees Magazine, a
season-long series of exclusive video interviews, which can’t be seen anywhere
else and a game-by-game blog by long-time New York baseball writer Jack
In the last week, I conducted several of those video
interviews with Yankees players and coaches. My conversation with Joe Girardi,
in which the manager spoke about his expectations for 2011 and the addition of
Rafael Soriano, among other topics, will be the first interview to go live on
Yankees Universe (and it will posted in the upcoming week).
I also sat down with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter
(pictured below), along with top prospect Jesus Montero and centerfielder
Curtis Granderson, who spoke about his approach to his second season in
Spring Training is always a busy time, and this year has
been no different. The work-day starts early for players, coaches, writers and
front office personnel. But through these interviews, I feel that I captured
the pulse of the team and the atmosphere in and around George M. Steinbrenner
While you wait for the season to start, please call (800)
GO-YANKS or log onto Yankees.com/universe for more information about Yankees
Universe – and once you join, please let me know what you think.
–Alfred Santasiere III
February 25, 2011 — It’s been a busy offseason at Yankee
Stadium, but for myself and the other members of the New York Yankees
publications department, the new season begins (and the offseason ends) on
Media Day provides select media outlets and the New York
Yankees publications department with the opportunity to photograph every
Yankees player and coach at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
This year, Media Day was held on Feb. 23, and Yankees team
photographer James Petrozzello captured portrait photographs of each Yankees
player and coach on the steps of the visiting dugout. The photo session began
at 7:00 am, and it took place under overcast skies.
Below are a few of the beautifully lit shots that
Petrozzello snapped amid the humid Florida air. The first is of Brett Gardner and the second is of CC
Sabathia, or to be more specific, Sabathia’s fastball grip.
Petrozzello asked each pitcher to grip a baseball as if he
were throwing his most vaunted pitch, and seconds before the photo below was taken;
Petrozzello discussed the shot with Sabathia.
“I want to take a close-up shot of your grip on your best
pitch, which is your change-up, right?” Petrozzello asked.
Sabathia quickly began to laugh.
“No it’s my fastball,” he said.
“What do I know, I’m the photographer,” Petrozzello
Later, Petrozzello noted that ESPN The Magazine published a recent poll in which major league
hitters voted on which pitchers have the best changeup, fastball and curveball,
among other pitches. And, of course, Sabathia’s change-up got enough votes to
put him in that category.
I guess a good pitcher never willingly gives away any secrets.
Enjoy the photos below. And check out many more Media Day
portraits in Yankees Magazine this
–Alfred Santasiere III
30, 2010 – To say it’s been an eventful week in New York City would be an
Sunday night, the Syracuse and Kansas State football teams arrived — amid one
of the most severe snow blizzards New York City has seen in years — and they
have been on the run ever since.
Bowl week has included practices at the New York Giants and New York Jets
facilities, visits to the New York Stock Exchange, Ground Zero, a children’s
cancer center and the Empire State Building. Despite the less-than-ideal
weather conditions, the Syracuse and K-State players and coaches experienced
the best that New York City has to offer, while also giving back in a big way.
New York Yankees publications staff has been everywhere this week. We’ve covered
every event, every practice and every interview. You’ll see that coverage in
the 2011 New York Yankees Official Yearbook, where we will be publishing a
roundup of this week’s events, along with a story on today’s Inaugural
Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
Monday, I covered both teams’ practices at the TIMEX Performance Center in East
Rutherford, NJ — which is the New York Giants indoor practice facility. As I
walked through 40 mph winds and blowing snow in the parking lot, I was happy
that the practices were indoors.
some of the Syracuse players hadn’t even arrived in New York by that time because of flight delays and cancellations, those that were there tried to keep their excitement in check.
don’t want to get too excited too soon,” Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone said.
“Focus is key, and it’s my job to keep these guys focused on the task at hand,
which is preparing for Thursday. We haven’t been in a bowl game since 2004, so
we’ll be motivated on Thursday.”
Tuesday morning, I accompanied a group of Kansas State players to
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where they spent a few hours with young
been on several visits to Memorial Sloan’s pediatric center with Yankees
players through the years. While those days are marked by memories of
professional athletes posing for photos, signing autographs and offering encouraging words, this
was a vastly different visit.
K-State contingent didn’t include household names, but it did consist of
players who were there to do a lot more than shake hands and sign autographs.
When we arrived in the giant indoor playground, which sits in the pediatric
cancer center, the players quickly found seats at the arts and crafts table,
alongside kids who were playing video games and next to kids who were relaxing
the arts and crafts table, a group of players spent about an hour making purple
and white (K-State colors) bracelets and paper snowmen. Other players engaged
young patients in video game competition — playing the latest football game.
lengthy visit gave the patients — many of whom have been in the hospital for
more than a month — a much-needed lift. And the way these young
student-athletes cared for the kids was inspiring and deeply touching.
“It put my own life in perspective,” defensive back Dahrnaz Tigner said. “When I think that football is hard, and then you see people dealing with life-threatening conditions, it opens your eyes.”
were several highlights during the week, but in my opinion, none were more memorable or spectacular than that visit.
On Wednesday, both teams were at Yankee Stadium for walk through practices, and both posed for their official Pinstripe Bowl team photos on the field. I have coordinated the New York Yankees team photo for the last five years, and that task comes with challenges — getting every player on the field at the same time, setting up the shot quickly. But at least baseball teams only have 25 man rosters. Syracuse and Kansas State feature rosters with more than 115 players each.
In the end, the Syracuse and K-State sports information departments and photographers were great partners in setting up and taking the photos. They helped to make it a seamless process.
After the team photos, Marrone spoke to a group of Bronx youths.
“I told them, ‘Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do, because through education, you can do whatever you want,’” Marrone said. “When I was growing up, I watched the Yankees and I wanted to be a baseball player. In my heart, I believe that somewhere there will be a kid who will turn on the TV tomorrow and say that he wants to play football at Yankee Stadium. And that might lead him to success in his life.”
November 20, 2010 — Sporting green jerseys, Notre Dame scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter and took a commanding 17-3 lead into the home locker room at Yankee Stadium.
November 20, 2010 – Every one who is packed into Yankee
Stadium tonight knows they are part of history. Tonight’s game between Notre
Dame (5-5) and Army (6-4) is the 50th matchup in their storied
rivalry. As I detailed in the October issue of Yankees Magazine, the greatest games in that history took place
across the street – at the old Yankee Stadium.
Knute Rockne’s “Win One for the Gipper” speech was uttered
during a game in the Bronx against Army. And, of course, the greatest college
football game of all-time (in the opinion of most football historians) took
place between an undefeated Notre Dame team and an undefeated Army team in
1946. That game resulted in a 0-0 tie, and it featured four eventual Heisman
There were several other epic battles between the two teams
at Yankee Stadium, including their 1925 contest, which many believe put Notre
Dame on the map.
Tonight is historic, not only because it’s a milestone game
in the rivalry, but because it’s the first football game at the new Yankee Stadium
and because it’s the first time these two teams have played in the Bronx since
Notre Dame and Army officials were intent on having their
teams play in the first game at Yankee Stadium. Moments after Heisman Trophy
winners Johnny Lujack (Notre Dame) and Pete Dawkins (Army) took the field the
for coin toss, their wish became a reality.
–Alfred Santasiere III