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July Issue of Yankees Magazine – ON SALE NOW

July 16, 2015 – The July Issue of Yankees Magazine is on sale now at Yankee Stadium and on newsstands throughout New York City and the surrounding areas.

You can purchase a subscription to the print version of Yankees Magazine by visiting www.yankees.com/publications or by calling (800) GO-YANKS. Additionally, we recently put our long-form content online at www.yankees.com/magazine.

Masahiro Tanaka graces the cover of the July Issue, and deputy editor Nathan Maciborski traveled to Baltimore when the team took on the Orioles in June to meet up with the pitcher for lunch and to interview him for our cover story. The feature delves into Tanaka’s personality off the field, as well as the experiences that have helped him become the ace pitcher he is today. It’s a great read, and the photos that team photographer James Petrozzello took for the story over lunch at Baltimore’s Azumi restaurant and at Oriole Park at Camden Yards are also unique and compelling.

This issue also includes executive editor Kristina M. Dodge’s feature on infielder Ronald Torreyes and a special photo essay from Old-Timers’ Day.

Managing editor Jon Schwartz scribed a feature on former Yankees prospect and current scout Drew Henson. For this story, Schwartz spent several days with Henson, traveling with him from ballpark to ballpark in the Midwest and chronicling the former third baseman’s life today.

For this month’s 1996 Q&A features, I sat down with Wade Boggs and Darryl Strawberry (see blog entries below). While their stories from that championship season 20 years ago are vastly different, they both poured their hearts out to me with the same emotion and intensity.

There are also two Art of Sport Q&A pieces in this issue. I interviewed Hockey Hall of Famer Scott Stevens from the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders captain John Tavares for those features (see blog entries below).

Enjoy the July issue.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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The Art of Sport with Hockey Hall of Famer Scott Stevens – in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine

July 16, 2016 – Earlier this summer, I sat down with Hockey Hall of Famer Scott Stevens at Blenheim restaurant in New York City for lunch and to interview the former New Jersey Devils defenseman for an Art of Sport Q&A feature in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine.

Stevens, who hoisted the Stanley Cup three times in New Jersey, spoke candidly about those triumphs and about his what he learned from the emotionally-draining loss to the New York Rangers in 1994.

“It was tough to lose that series, but I think it was a stepping-stone to the three championships we won,” he said. “We were young, and there were things that we had to learn. Sometimes, you have to lose before you can win. We knew what it would take to win a championship after that.”

A year later, Stevens and the Devils took on the heavily-favored Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals.

“There’s always extra motivation when you’re the underdog,” Stevens said. “That wasn’t a bad thing for us. We cared what people were saying, and we wanted to show the world that we could beat Detroit. We felt like we could defeat any team during the playoffs that season, so we really didn’t lack confidence going into that series. We swept the Detroit Red Wings in the Finals because we came out with more intensity than they did right from the beginning.”

Stevens shared what I consider to be the best anecdote of the conversation when I asked him what he and his teammates did the night they won their first Stanley Cup.

“A few of us took the cup to the Verona Inn in Verona, New Jersey,” he said. “We wanted to know if you could actually drink beer out of it.”

The Devils won their third Stanley Cup in 2003. A few days after securing that championship, several members of the team, including Stevens, brought the Cup to the old Yankee Stadium. After visiting with George Steinbrenner and Yogi Berra prior to the game, the players made their way to the pitcher’s mound — with the Cup. Stevens, the long-time Devils captain, tossed a ceremonial first pitch.

“It was a great night,” Stevens said. “We got to spend some time with George Steinbrenner, and you could tell how competitive he was just from talking with him for a few minutes. He loved to win, and he was proud of us. Yogi was there, and that was great. He loved hockey, and he especially loved the Devils. He had a close friendship with [late Devils owner] John McMullen, and they used to hang out together at our practices at South Mountain Arena in West Orange, New Jersey, so a bunch of us knew him already. Going out to the mound with the Stanley Cup was amazing. I’m sure there were a lot of Rangers fans in the crowd, but everyone respected what we had accomplished and we got a nice ovation.”

Stevens, who recently accepted an assistant coaching position with the Minnesota Wild, was on the Devils coaching staff when the team took on the Rangers at the current Yankee Stadium in 2014.

“The atmosphere was great,” Stevens said. “That was how I grew up playing hockey, and I wish I could have actually played in an NHL game outside. Just like being a runner, when you get that cooler weather, you feel like you can run all day long. When we were kids, we could play hockey outside forever, and that’s what it was like for the players that night at Yankee Stadium.”

To read the rest of my conversation with Stevens, grab a copy of the July Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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The Art of Sport with John Tavares – in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine

July 16, 2016 – There will be an Art of Sport Q&A feature with New York Islanders star John Tavares in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine (along with an Art of Sport feature with Hockey Hall of Famer Scott Stevens). I spoke with Tavares from his home on Long Island a few weeks ago, and I was impressed with his dedication to the sport and his approach to the game.

A few minutes after the interview began, I asked Tavares what his goals were when he was selected by the Islanders with the first pick in the 2009 draft.

“I just wanted to prove myself,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to come in and be the league MVP. I just wanted to show that I belonged. But at the same time, I wanted to learn where I had to improve. I have always had high expectations for myself, but I wasn’t approaching it like I had to save the team.”

Tavares also spoke about what he believes has helped him to become one of the NHL’s best players.

“I have always believed in my ability to play the game, but I think having a strong work ethic allowed me to continue to improve each season,” Tavares said. “From the day I came into the league, I wanted to be a great player, a difference-maker night in and night out. I have worked hard on the ice and in the gym to make that a reality. I feel like having the mindset that each season is a new opportunity to prove myself has been equally as important.”

The Islanders captain also shared his memories of the game he played in against the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium in 2014.

“It was surreal,” Tavares said. “It was a really cold night, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I remember walking out onto the ice and seeing all the stars. It really brought me back to my childhood, when playing hockey outside was what we did. But this time, we were at one of the signature stadiums in baseball. I didn’t want the night to end.”

More recently, Tavares scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in Game 6 of the Islanders opening-round playoff victory over the Florida Panthers this past season. That win clinched the team’s first playoff series win in 23 seasons.

“Our fans have been through a lot, and they really deserved that,” Tavares said. “It’s been a long time coming. We wanted to get over that first hump and finally realize what it takes to put a team away and to win four games in a playoff series. We just don’t want it to be another 23 years. We want it to lead to a lot more playoff wins in the near future.”

The complete Q&A feature with Tavares is on the pages of the July Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Yankees Magazine Night in Scranton

June 16, 2016 – On July 7, I was at PNC Field in Scranton, Pennsylvania, for Yankees Magazine Night. For the second consecutive season, our organization has provided the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders with copies of our flagship publication to hand out to the first 3,000 fans in attendance.

As part of the Yankees Magazine Night celebration, the RailRiders asked my 8-year-old son, Alfred, and me to throw ceremonial first pitches before the Triple-A team took on the Buffalo Bisons (see photos below). While the entire evening at the ballpark was exciting, nothing could match the experience of walking out to the mound with my son.

Once we got to the hill, the public address announcer introduced me. After what seemed like a long introduction that weaved through the last twenty years of my life, I tossed a pitch to James Pazos — a RailRiders pitcher who was asked to be our catcher. My pitch made it to the Pazos’ mitt, but more impressively, my son threw a fastball over the middle of the plate seconds later.

The Trenton Thunder will also be celebrating Yankees Magazine Night this season. On Aug. 2, the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate will be giving out copies of our publication to fans in attendance for the fifth straight season, and I’m already looking forward to being at Arm & Hammer Park that night.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Q&A Feature with Darryl Strawberry – in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine

June 15, 2016 – Earlier this month, I met up with Big Apple icon Darryl Strawberry for lunch and to interview him for a Q&A piece on the Yankees 1996 championship season.

The Q&A feature with Strawberry will be published in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine, along with an interview with Hall of Famer Wade Boggs (see blog entry below) also focusing on 1996.

Strawberry, whose life unraveled in the early ’90s due to substance abuse issues, played for the Yankees in 1995, but the team declined an option to bring him back the next year. With no other offers in Major League Baseball, Strawberry played for the St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League, until George Steinbrenner gave him another chance to put the pinstripes on.

“I wanted it to come back to the Yankees in 1996, but things broke apart for me,” Strawberry said from a back table at New York City’s Southern Hospitality restaurant. “I think a couple people felt I wasn’t ready for the next season. I went to play in independent baseball in St. Paul, Minnesota, and during that time, I wondered if I would ever play in the majors again. When I got to St. Paul, I started enjoying baseball again, and I was having a lot of fun. It was cool to be able to play baseball without having that much pressure, and it just brought a desire back and a greater passion for the game. I didn’t have any idea if I would return to the majors or not, but that’s where I started to love the game again.”

From the time Steinbrenner brought Strawberry back to New York, he contributed to the team. After hitting 11 home runs in the regular season, Strawberry made his most significant contributions in October.

In the ALCS against Baltimore, with the Yankees first trip to the Fall Classic in 18 years at stake, Strawberry batted .417 with three home runs. Two of those blasts secured a huge win for the Yankees in Game 4 of the series.

“Game 4 is always big,” Strawberry said. “In those series, you have to be able to beat good pitchers, and Baltimore had quality pitching. My approach against [then-Orioles reliever] Armando Benitez in the eighth inning was that he was afraid to throw the ball on the inside part of the plate against me, so I was looking for a hard fastball away. If he was going to pitch out and away, I was going to go the other way with it.”

After getting back to the World Series with a Game 5 win in Baltimore, the Yankees soon found themselves down two games to none in the World Series. And they had to travel to Atlanta to take on the Braves in three road games.

“Our backs were up against the wall,” said Strawberry, who won the 1986 World Series with the New York Mets and who was selected to play in eight All-Star Games during his career in Queens. “But we had the attitude that we were going to take back the Series down there. They’ve got the tomahawk chop in Atlanta, and we’re like, ‘No. We’re going to chop you up.’ All you had to look at was the man who was running the team: Joe Torre. Joe never panicked. He realized that there were some other players he had to get out there, because he had guys who were struggling and other guys on the bench who he knew he could rely on. It was Joe’s first World Series, and he made the boldest move by benching a few of his star players and playing some of the reserves in Atlanta. We got some great pitching down there, especially from Andy Pettitte in Game 5, and we left there with a 3-2 lead in the World Series. Joe took some big chances, and they all paid off for him. I don’t think Joe ever gets enough credit for the way he managed those games. That was a sign that he was going to be a Hall of Fame manager.”

Strawberry and the Yankees finished off the Braves in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium, and to this day, the former ballplayer remains proud of what he was able to do that season.

“To not only win the World Series in New York but to win it with a franchise that has such a storied tradition and great history is something that is special,” Strawberry said. “I’m part of the history of the New York Yankees, and I will be forever. That’s what I always think about when look back on it.”

The entire Q&A with Strawberry will appear in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Q&A Feature with Wade Boggs – in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine

June 15, 2016— On May 18, I spent a day with Hall of Famer Wade Boggs at Leewood Golf Club in Eastchester, New York, where Babe Ruth was once a member. During the memorable day with Boggs, which included a round of golf, I interviewed the Hall of Famer for a feature on the 1996 Yankees team that won the World Series. As part of our 20th anniversary celebration of 1996, the interview with Boggs will be one of two Q&A’s that will appear in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine.

Before I asked Boggs a single question about the championship he won in pinstripes, the third baseman spoke about what it was like not only following The Babe from the Boston Red Sox to the Yankees and to the Hall of Fame, but also to the same golf course.

“It brings me back to the very first time I stepped into the batter’s box at Yankee Stadium,” Boggs said. “I was stepping into the same batter’s box that Babe Ruth stood in. I had the same feelings today. I’m standing on the same tee box that Babe Ruth once stood at. The Babe played golf here, and I feel lucky to be a part of that. I’m very thankful that God blessed me with the chance to be a Yankee, because without that, I wouldn’t be here today.”

As our lunch at the club rolled along, Boggs shared one great story after another about his time with the Yankees and specifically about the 1996 season. One of those stories detailed the meeting Boggs and his agent had with a former Yankees official, which led to the third baseman coming to the Big Apple.

“My agent, Alan Nero, told me that Joe Malloy was handling the meeting because Mr. Steinbrenner was suspended at the time and he wasn’t allowed to have any interaction with free agents or any other players until his suspension was over,” Boggs said. “We were at the table, and at the table next to us, there was a gentleman in a suit reading a newspaper. I couldn’t see his face because the newspaper was blocking it. Once the contract was agreed upon, the man put the newspaper down and winked at me. Of course, that man was George Steinbrenner. That was his way of welcoming me to the Yankees and saying, ‘I got you now.’ When I think back on it, that gesture was so touching.”

Boggs also talked at length about 1996 World Series and specifically what happened on the team plane after the Yankees lost the first two games at Yankee Stadium.

“The first thing I thought about when we got on the plane was my experience in the 1986 World Series,” said Boggs, a five-time American League batting champion, who was one of the star players on the Red Sox squad that lost to the New York Mets in the 1986 World Series. “I stood up in the back of the plane and said, ‘I’ve been in the situation that the Braves are in now. I know exactly how the Braves feel. In 1986, we were up by two games going back to Boston, and we wanted to close it out there and not have to go back to New York. The Braves do not want to go back to New York. They think it’s over. Well, guess what? We’ve got different plans for them. Now let’s go down there, take names, win all three games and win this thing in New York.’ We went in there like Grant took Richmond.”

Of course, without Boggs, the Yankees very well may not have won all three games in Atlanta during that Fall Classic. In Game 4, Boggs walked in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning, leading to a crucial win.

“I was the last position player on the bench that night, but Joe Torre initially asked David Cone to grab a helmet to pinch-hit,” Boggs said. “Then Don Zimmer looked at Joe and said, ‘You still have Boggs.’ So Joe said, ‘Hold on, Coney. Boggsy, get a bat.’

I wasn’t going to swing until [Braves pitcher] Steve Avery started throwing strikes. He threw ball one, then he threw two strikes. Then he missed with the next three pitches, and I did the old bat flip and ran to first.”

As we sat on a deck overlooking the picturesque golf course, an emotional Boggs shared what winning the World Series meant to him.

“You’ve reached the pinnacle,” he said through tears. “You don’t have anymore games or innings or at-bats. We’re world champions, and no one can ever take that away from you. I thought about my mom when the last out was made. She was killed in a car accident in June 1986, and even if I had won the World Series that year with the Red Sox, it wouldn’t have meant anything because of her not being there. But 10 years later, having my dad at the World Series and being able to reflect on her life with him, that night was very special.”

In an attempt to lighten the mood, I asked Boggs what compelled him to jump on a New York City police horse during the post-game celebration after Game 6 at Yankee Stadium.

“I have no idea,” he said. “Once we decided to do the victory lap, I was going to run with all the guys, and the next thing I know, I’m in left center field on a horse. But I was deathly afraid of horses because when I was 5 years old, I got bit in the back by a horse, so there was no forethought that possessed me to get on that horse.

All I know is that without even thinking about it, I was on the back of a huge horse and it was the greatest thing I’ve ever done.”

To read the rest of this compelling interview, be sure to pick up a copy of the July Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Quote of the Month – July Issue of Yankees Magazine

June 15, 2016 – The Yankees celebrated their 70th Annual Old-Timers’ Day over the past weekend, and with so many great players from the past at Yankee Stadium, the afternoon proved to be very special.

We will be featuring a photo essay with all of the best images from Old-Timers’ Day in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine. Whether it’s Hideki Matsui’s home run off of David Cone or Brian Doyle’s inspirational hit at the end of the game, our photographers got it all.

Moments before that contest, I interviewed one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, Rickey Henderson (see photo below). I asked the Hall of Famer for his take on the tradition of Old-Timers’ Day, and Henderson’s words will make up the quote of the month in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine. Here’s a sneak preview of what he said.

“It’s a wonderful day, and I wish more teams in baseball did this. There is so much joy in getting to visit with the guys I played alongside. As a baseball player, my teammates are my family. They’re my brothers. This is a family reunion for me and a chance get a sense of what is going on in my teammates’ lives.”

–Alfred Santasiere III

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June Issue of Yankees Magazine – ON SALE, JUNE 6

May 23, 2016 — The June Issue of Yankees Magazine will be on sale on June 6 at Yankee Stadium and on newsstands throughout New York City and the surrounding areas.

You can purchase a subscription to the print version of Yankees Magazine by visiting www.yankees.com/publications or by calling (800) GO-YANKS. Additionally, we recently put our long-form content online at www.yankees.com/magazine.

For the cover story, managing editor Jon Schwartz sat down with Carlos Beltran for lunch in New York City a few days before the slugger hit the 400th home run of his career. In the feature, Schwartz details how Beltran’s example has made him one of the most respected players in the clubhouse and the game, and it’s a great read.

Deputy editor Nathan Maciborski took a closer look at Beltran’s approach at the plate, in a separate story, and he looped in fellow switch-hitter, Mark Teixeira who — at press time — was three homers shy of the 400 mark.

For this issue, I put together a Q&A feature on Didi Gregorius, who I interviewed over dinner during spring training (see blog entry below). I also penned a feature on former Yankees catcher John Flaherty, who I spent a day with in Rockland County, New York, where he was raised and where he resides today.

This edition also includes two very special Art of Sport Q&A pieces. Vince Papale and Devon Harris were both immortalized in movies, and their stories are both in the June Issue of Yankees Magazine (see blog entry below).

Enjoy the June Issue.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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Q&A Feature with Didi Gregorius – in the June Issue of Yankees Magazine

May 23, 2016 – During spring training, I was fortunate enough to sit down for dinner at Charley’s Steak House in Tampa with Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius. During our meal, I interviewed both players for the cover story of the April Issue of Yankees Magazine on Castro (see blog entry below). Near the end of our dinner, I asked Gregorius several questions for a separate feature.

That Q&A with the Yankees shortstop will be published in the June Issue of Yankees Magazine. During my one-on-one with Gregorius, I asked him a few questions about the challenges associated with replacing a legend in Derek Jeter.

“My mindset was to just go out there and play the game,” he said about the 2015 season. “I really wasn’t worried about anything else. I’m all about controlling what I can control, playing the game the right way and always trying to get better. To be completely honest with you, those were the only things I was focused on.

I also asked Gregorius what advice he would give to whoever replaces Peyton Manning or any other sports legend.

“I would tell that person to always be mindful that they are in that position for a reason,” Gregorius said. “If the team believes you are good enough to be the next guy, then just be yourself and work hard to constantly improve. Do things the way you’ve always done them, and most importantly, don’t try to be like the other guy.”

While just about everything about Gregorius’ approach to taking over at shortstop was impressive, what really resonated from our conversation was his outward respect for Jeter, who he said he speaks with occasionally.

“I use everything that Derek says,” Gregorius explained. “But the thing that sticks out the most is when he told me to just be myself and not try to do too much.”

There’s a lot more in this feature about Gregorius. Check it out in the June Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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The Art of Sport with Devon Harris – in the June Issue of Yankees Magazine

May 23, 2016 – There will be a Q&A with Devon Harris in the June Issue of Yankees Magazine. Harris was part of the famed 1988 Jamaica national bobsled team that was immortalized in the 1993 Disney movie, Cool Runnings. I recently met up with Harris for lunch and a memorable interview nearby his home in Rockland County, New York.

Like my other Art of Sport subject for the June Issue (see blog entry below on Vince Papale), Harris’ story is as inspirational as it gets. After falling short of reaching his dream of competing in the Olympics as a member of Jamaica’s track team, Harris was presented with a true once-in-a-lifetime chance to try out for the barely-formed bobsled squad.

“The idea came from George Fitch, who was an American businessman and ambassador living in Jamaica,” Harris said. “He and his friends were in a bar, drinking, and they started talking about this belief in Jamaica that Jamaicans were the best athletes in the world. According to George, to prove how good an athlete is, you have to see how quickly they could adapt to a new sport. They watched a pushcart derby, which was similar to bobsledding except it wasn’t on ice. They discovered that you needed sprinters at the start, and Jamaica had a lot of sprinters, so that’s how they settled on bobsledding.”

When Harris was approached by his colonel with the Jamaican Defense Force, he put little faith in the prospect of anything good coming out of a Jamaican bobsled team.

“I thought it was ridiculous,” he said. “It sounded dangerous, and thinking about it practically, how were they going to train for a bobsled competition in Jamaica? Also, it was already August, and this team would have to be ready to compete in the Olympics by February. That didn’t seem possible.”

But it was possible. Harris made the team, and along with a few other young men, they were off to Lake Placid, New York, for the start of their Olympic preparation.

A few months later — during which time the team also trained in sunny Jamaica — they converged on Calgary for the Winter Olympics.

After a competitive showing in the two-man bobsled competition, the Jamaicans crashed in their four-man run. The bobsledders escaped the crash unhurt, and as they crawled out of the sled, Harris led his teammates on an inspiring and brave march to the finish line.

“I was thinking that the fans didn’t think we belonged in the Olympics, and had we just proved them right,” Harris said. “But people started to cheer, and they were shouting, ‘We love you,’ to us. One guy reached over the wall and shook my hand, and then it seemed like everyone else reached out. I tried to shake every person’s hand that I could.”

As our lunch at Il Fresco restaurant in Orangeburg, New York, neared its conclusion, I asked Harris what he thought that Olympic moment symbolized.

It proves that for every piece of adversity, there is an equal seed of positivity,” he said. “I was feeling bad, but it looked like I was doing a hero walk. I often talk about how failure is part of success and it’s not fatal. It didn’t feel great at the time, but it’s serving a greater purpose today.”

There’s so much more on Harris’ experiences in the Art of Sport feature, set for publication in June.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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