April 1, 2013 — Regardless of how good or bad the weather is, Opening Day at Yankee Stadium is always a special time to be at the ballpark.
The weather in the Bronx for today’s opener is nearly perfect. The sun is out, and there’s more blue in the sky than there are clouds. Most importantly, and unlike so many other openers, it’s not freezing outside. The temperature at game time was 62 degrees.
Before the game began, the Yankees and the their opponents, the Boston Red Sox, dedicated the game to the victims of the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Both teams are wearing patches, honoring the small town, and that same logo is painted on the first baseline and on the third baseline.
As part of the pre-game ceremony, the names of the children, teachers and administrators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School were listed on the scoreboard during a moment of silence. As the names continued to scroll across the centerfield video board, an overwhelming sense of sadness swept through the press box and rest of the Stadium. For me, the length of the silence — which lasted longer than other remembrances because of the number of people whose names were displayed — reaffirmed the heartbreak. The fact that most of those names were those of young children certainly added an unbearable layer of grief to the moment.
Earlier today in a press conference, Mariano Rivera was asked what the game’s dedication meant to him. The classy closer not only discussed the gravity of the tragedy, but he also shared his thoughts on the importance of today’s respectful tribute.
“We can not change what happened,” Rivera said. “I wish we could. But at the same time, we’re trying to bring them a lot of good moments and just trying to take the tragedies off their minds for a little bit. We want to honor them the right way, and we believe that we are doing that.”
The May Issue of Yankees Magazine will feature a story on today’s tribute to the people of Newtown, which several first responders and other members of the Western Connecticut community were on the field for.
Additionally, the 2013 New York Yankees Official Yearbook includes feature stories on great Yankees players of today and yesterday, biographies on every member of the team, a special section on the final out of every World Series the club won and much more. In my opinion, the most important paragraph — which will have the most long-lasting impact — in the entire Yearbook, has nothing to do with baseball. Instead, it’s a dedication that reads as follows…
As we prepared for the 2013 season, the inexplicable tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, was never far from our minds. The 2013 New York Yankees Official Yearbook is dedicated to the memory of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims, their families and their resilient community.
–Alfred Santasiere III
March 18, 2013 — The 2013 New York Yankees Official Yearbook will be on sale at Yankee Stadium on April 1 — Opening Day.
You can purchase the print version of the Yearbook by visiting http://www.yankees.com/publications or by calling (800) GO-YANKS. The digital version of the Yearbook is available through http://www.yankees.com/publications.
The 2013 Yearbook features a cover that captures the beauty of the Yankee Stadium (see below). It includes images of the field as well as of the frieze and the Gate 4 entrance, which has become one of the most recognizable places in or around the Stadium. Before the design of the cover was finalized, it was given a throwback copper green look. In my opinion, the color of the cover stands out, and it will make the 320-page publication a keepsake for years to come.
In addition to biographies about all of the Yankees, along with the 2013 season preview feature and the 2012 season in review story, the Yearbook includes a special 31-page section on the final outs of each of the World Series won by the Yankees. For this expansive piece, senior editor Nathan Maciborski — who came up with the idea last summer — spoke to more than half of the men who recorded the 27th out in the deciding games of Fall Classics for the Yankees.
The Yearbook also features three important anniversary pieces. The first is on the 100th anniversary of the 1913 season, which is when the team began to be commonly referred to as the Yankees. The second anniversary story is on the 1923 season, which is when the club moved into the old Yankee Stadium and won its first of 27 world championships. The third story is about the late George Steinbrenner’s 1973 purchase of the Yankees.
Finally, as I discussed in a recent blog post, my exclusive feature story on Ichiro will be published in the 2013 Yearbook, and it provides great insight on number 31.
Enjoy this special publication.
–Alfred Santasiere III
March 18, 2013 – While it still feels like winter in the Northeast, Opening Day is only two weeks away. On April 1, the Yankees will begin their regular season at home against the Boston Red Sox.
The April Issue of Yankees Magazine will be on sale that afternoon, and it will include a special Opening Day cover (see below). Copies of the April edition — with the commemorative cover — will be available at Yankee Stadium on April 1. After that, we will unveil our regular April cover (see below), which features Derek Jeter and which will remain on sale through the end of the month.
Of course, you can purchase the print version of the April Issue — with either cover — by visiting http://www.yankees.com/publications or by calling (800) GO-YANKS. The digital version of the magazine — featuring the Jeter cover — will be available through http://www.yankees.com/publications.
The April Issue is a must have publication — for many reasons.
In the cover story, contributing writer Bob Klapisch details the Yankee captain’s journey back to the field after suffering the most serious injury of his career. On one of the first days of spring training, Klapisch spoke to Jeter about the intense rehabilitation he needed to go through after breaking his ankle in the 2012 American League Championship Series. The story also discusses Jeter’s expectations for the upcoming season.
The April edition includes plenty of other thought-provoking features including associate editor Craig Tapper’s story on Kevin Youkilis, managing editor Kristina Dodge’s feature on the passion that so many Yankees players and coaches have for golf and deputy editor Ken Derry’s recap of his recent visit to the Yankees training facility and the Latino Hall of Fame in the Dominican Republic.
As I detailed in previous blog entries, I wrote two features for the April Issue. My story about Jorge Posada’s adjustment to his post-baseball career as well as my feature on Dan Marino’s ceremonial first pitch in spring training will be published in April.
With the NCAA’s basketball tournament set to culminate in April, we chose this issue to publish “Five Minutes with…” interviews with two coaches who made their mark on the tournament. Over the winter, I sat down with Bob Knight and P.J. Carlesimo (who is currently the interim head coach of the Brooklyn Nets) for two interesting pieces.
Enjoy the beginning of the season and the April Issue.
–Alfred Santasiere III
March 14, 2013 – A few minutes after the Mariano Rivera press conference (see below) came to an end, I left George M. Steinbrenner Field for the Tampa International Airport.
I wasn’t heading back to New York, but instead, I was picking up one of the greatest football players in history.
Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino flew to Tampa to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at the Yankees spring home on March 9, and for the second time in two years, I had the privilege of spending the day with him.
Marino came to Yankee Stadium last January for a tour of the ballpark and an interview with me, which was published in the April 2012 Issue of Yankees Magazine.
On that winter day last year, Jorge Posada announced his retirement after 17 seasons with the Yankees.
“I’ve been around the Yankees on two days in the last two years,” Marino said. “Those are the days that two great players announced that they’re going to retire, which is a crazy coincidence.”
This time around, the long-time Miami Dolphins quarterback spent some time with Yankees players and coaches. Walking into the home clubhouse with Marino made for an unforgettable experience. It’s not often that you see the game’s best players in awe of another athlete, but that was the case on that sunny morning.
A few minutes after we walked in to the locker room, CC Sabathia approached Marino.
“Mr. Marino,” Sabathia began. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I just want to shake your hand.”
Pitcher David Phelps then asked Marino if he would autograph a baseball, and All-Star David Robertson followed suite. When fellow pitchers Joba Chamberlain and Adam Warren noticed how gracious Marino was, they grabbed baseballs and approached him.
Sabathia came back over and asked Marino if he would pose for a photo with him, and before team photographer James Petrozzello could snap the photo, Chamberlain jumped in.
“When athletes from other sports visited the Dolphins facility, I would ask for photos with them,” Marino said. “It’s part of the camaraderie among athletes. For me, it’s an honor when a professional athlete asks you for your autograph or photo.”
As interesting as it was to see the aforementioned players with Marino, the former quarterback’s interactions with two legends in their own right, truly stood out.
When Derek Jeter walked into the clubhouse, he and Marino immediately greeted each other with a hug. The two icons had spent time together before, and on this day, they discussed the challenges of coming back from serious injuries.
Jeter, who suffered a broken leg in the 2012 postseason, asked Marino about the challenges he faced in coming back from a torn Achilles tendon, which ended his 1993 season.
“Take your time this spring to figure out how your body is going to adjust to the injury,” Marino said. “But trust me, even though your leg might not feel the same way it did before the injury, you will learn to adjust. You’ll get it done when it counts.”
A few minutes later, Marino and Rivera crossed paths. Although they had never met, it appeared as if they were old friends.
Marino congratulated Rivera on what he called a “magical career,” and the two posed for a few photos together.
Another great relief pitcher caught Marino’s ceremonial toss. Hall of Famer Goose Gossage greeted Marino when he got to the home dugout.
“I’m going to give you three signs,” Gossage said. “One is fastball. Two is fastball. And, three is fastball.”
The quarterback, who set more than 30 major National Football League records, threw a strike to Gossage and received a loud ovation from the sold-out crowd.
After the pitch, Marino and I watched the first three innings of the game together in the seats. The experience of watching a Yankees game with Marino will be etched in my mind forever.
During that time, Marino shared his thoughts on what it was like taking the mound.
“I had a lot of nervous energy before every game I played in, and I had that same feeling today” Marino said. “You need to have it. If you don’t have it, there’s something wrong.”
We left the game for a late lunch at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza in South Tampa. Marino is a partner in the chain of restaurants, which are owned by Anthony Bruno.
We spent a few hours at the restaurant with Bruno and with David Wells, who did his best to un-nerve Marino before the pitch.
“I was worried about bouncing the pitch in front of you,” Marino said to the former Yankees pitcher turned spring training instructor. “I bet if you had to throw a football off the mound, you would have bounced it.”
The rest of the story will be published in the April Issue of Yankees Magazine, which will be available on April 1.
–Alfred Santasiere III
March 14, 2013 – On Saturday March 9, Mariano Rivera announced that the 2013 season would be his last.
Rivera made the announcement in a press conference at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa a few hours before the Yankees took on the Atlanta Braves, and it was was difficult not to get caught up in the moment.
With the same grace that Rivera has shown during his 18 years in pinstripes, he informed the world that his career would soon come to an end.
“The tank is almost empty,” said Rivera, who was flanked by his wife, Clara, and two of their children. “The little gas I have left will be for this year. After that, I will empty everything. That’s why it’s my time.”
I consider myself lucky to have been at the historic announcement. For me, the most memorable part of the morning was when the entire Yankees team — including coaches and spring training instructors — walked into the pavilion where the press conference was held. Seeing the sea of Yankees, who took the time out of their training routines to support Rivera, spoke volumes about the respect that the game’s greatest closer has garnered.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Derek Jeter said later that day. “He’s a close friend. It’s difficult to put into words how much he’s meant to our team, but let’s just say, we wouldn’t have had the success we had without him.”
“He’s irreplaceable,” GM Brian Cashman added. “He is the greatest of all time.”
When you look at what Rivera has accomplished, it’s almost impossible to disagree with Jeter or Cashman.
Rivera is the all-time leader in regular season saves with 608 and postseason saves with 42. While Rivera’s 2.39 career ERA in the regular season is impressive, his 0.70 ERA in October is untouchable, especially considering he has pitched in 96 postseason games. Additionally, in 21 of the 32 postseason series Rivera has pitched in, he has not given up a run.
Of course, Rivera has recorded the final outs in four World Series, and in one of my favorite baseball moments, he threw the last pitch at the old Yankee Stadium.
“It’s been a privilege and honor to wear the pinstripes for so many years,” Rivera said. “I’m proud to have been part of so many great times with the Yankees.”
There will be an article about Rivera’s news conference in the April Issue of Yankees Magazine.
Additionally, in a feature story that I have been working on for some time, I will detail a project that means almost as much to Rivera as some of his greatest baseball accomplishments.
Since purchasing a deteriorating church in New Rochelle, New York, Rivera has worked diligently to re-build it. The 122-year old building, which is located on North Avenue in the Westchester County suburb, has not been in use for almost 30 years. Rivera raised and donated enough money to fund a construction project, which will ultimately restore the church. The Yanks closer has overseen virtually every detail of the church’s renovation since day one, and the building is scheduled to begin serving as a house of worship, day-care center and after-school destination this summer.
Rivera, who has also built churches in his native Panama, spent more than an hour with me discussing this meaningful project during spring training.
“The town needed a church for everyone to congregate at,” Rivera said. “With all that the Lord has done for me, this was the least I could do. When I first saw the church, it was beat up. But all I saw was the beauty of the church. The stone and the woodwork really stood out, even though the church had been vacant for about thirty years. I knew I wanted to buy the church as soon as I saw it.”
The feature on the soon-to-be-opened Pentecostal church will be published in the July Issue of Yankees Magazine — about a month after the house of worship is scheduled to officially open it’s doors.
Until then, Rivera will be writing the final chapter of one of the greatest careers in baseball history.
–Alfred Santasiere III
March 7, 2013 – On February 23, I conducted a lengthy interview in the Yankees dugout at George M. Steinbrenner Field with Ichiro for an exclusive feature, which will be published in the 2013 New York Yankees Official Yearbook. After the interview, Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello took several portrait shots of Ichiro for the story (below).
In the interview, Ichiro was about as candid as I’ve heard him about his desire to return to the Yankees after playing in New York for the second half of the 2012 season.
“To be honest with you, if the Yankees wanted and needed me on this team, there’s no reason I wouldn’t have come back,” Ichiro said. “I wanted to be here. We have agents, and those agents have a job to do. But sometimes I think there’s no need to have negotiations. That’s how I felt about coming back here. I didn’t want anything to come in between what was most important to me, which was coming back to the Yankees. But in the end, everything worked out, and I’m glad it did.”
Ichiro, who has led the American League in hits seven of his first 12 major league seasons since coming to the United States from Japan, also spoke to me about his reverence for the tradition of the Yankees. In fact, the two-time batting champion made a special trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this winter to learn more about the history of the Yankees.
“I really didn’t know that much about the history of the Yankees before I was traded here last year,” Ichiro said. “But on my most recent trip to Cooperstown, I wanted to learn more about it. The curators took me into a special room, which has a jersey that Babe Ruth actually wore, a bat that Babe Ruth used and one of Lou Gehrig’s gloves. I was able to touch the actual things that they used, and I was able to imagine what baseball was like back in those days. That was a very special experience.”
Ichiro also discussed a present-day Yankees legend — Derek Jeter.
“Derek went to the absolute limit that he could have gone before he got hurt last season,” Ichiro said. “He wouldn’t let anyone know that he was hurting. I’ve seen a lot of different players over my career, but I haven’t seen many guys who play the game as hard as Derek. He puts high expectations on himself, and he doesn’t let people see his weak side — when he’s playing with pain. That’s something I really admire about him.
“Let’s just say that if I was stranded out on the mountain, he’s somebody that I would want to have up there with me,” Ichiro continued. “Derek is somebody who you can count on.”
For the rest of my feature story on Ichiro’s storied career, his expectations for 2013 and the appreciation he has for the Yankees, be sure to pick up your copy of the 2013 New York Yankees Official Yearbook.
The print version of the Yearbook will be available on April 1 at Yankee Stadium or you can purchase your copy by visiting http://www.yankees.com/publications or by calling (800) GO-YANKS. The digital version of the Yearbook will also be released in early April. Visit http://www.yankees.com/publications to purchase.
–Alfred Santasiere III
February 28, 2013 – The excitement of seeing the Yankees take the field for the first time each spring is generally preceded by on on-field ceremony, which adds to the already special day.
Moments before the Yankees played their first game of 2013 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on Sunday February 24, the crowd got an up-close look at a fixed wing HC-130 Hercules aircraft and two HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters.
The United States Coast Guard plane and two choppers flew over the ballpark at an altitude of less than 1,000 feet.
From my vantage point in front of the first base dugout, it appeared as if the plane was barely above the roof of the stadium, and it made for a very impressive spectacle. As the plane and helicopters approached from the third base side of the ballpark, I could read just about all of the words on the belly and sides of the plane. In comparison to many of the flyovers I’ve seen at Yankee Stadium, this one was unique.
Even for the veteran players, who watched the Coast Guard aircrafts from the first base line, the altitude — or lack there of — was eye catching.
“That surprised me,” said David Wells, who serves as a spring training instructor. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that. It certainly got our attention, and it was very cool.”
–Alfred Santasiere III
February 20, 2013 — At 7:15 this morning, Media Day began, and by 10:00 am, Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello had taken portraits of every Yankees player. Many of those photos will end up on the covers of Yankees Magazine in 2013.
Petrozzello was set up on in foul territory in front of the third base dugout at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The cloud cover that hovered over Tampa made for a background that was different from those of past Media Days. The murky white sky made for a nice contrast from the green grass and pinstriped jerseys. Additionally, the fog, which rolled in and out of the ballpark all morning, gave each photo it’s own character — because the colors of the sky were continually changing.
Only time will tell which Yankees players will grace our covers in 2013. But if I had to guess, Ichiro will be there before too long. Below is one of the portraits that Petrozzello took of Ichiro, along with a behind the scenes photo of the photographer and his subject.
–Alfred Santasiere III
February 19, 2013 – Spring Training 2013 has officially begun, and the greatest relief pitcher of all-time is back on the field for the Yankees.
Mariano Rivera, who missed the majority of the 2012 season after he suffered a knee injury, has been participating in team practices and getting ready to make a comeback.
Rivera was on our minds as we put together the first issue of Yankees Magazine in 2013. He graces the cover of the Spring Issue, which comes out on February 21. In my opinion, the image on the cover (below), which team photographer James Petrozzello took last spring in Tampa (on Media Day) brings out Rivera’s intense desire. The look on the closer’s face on the cover is the same glare that Rivera has when he faces would-be hitters in the ninth inning.
The cover story on Rivera was written by senior editor Nathan Maciborski. In the feature, Rivera explains how anxious he is to compete again, and how difficult it was to watch his team from the sidelines. Maciborski spoke with Rivera for the story at a dinner at Yankee Stadium, and he certainly captured exclusive anecdotes.
The Spring Issue also includes a Q&A feature with two Hall of Famers, who are also members of baseball’s 500 Home Run Club. Last March, I sat down with Yankees Spring Training instructor Reggie Jackson and Phillies spring training instructor Mike Schmidt and spoke with them about their storied careers and about being in spring training with their respective ballclubs. For me, the half hour that I spent with these legends in the Phillies dugout at their ballpark in Clearwater, Florida, marked one of the most insightful baseball conversations I have ever had.
There are several other great features in the first issue of Yankees Magazine this year. If you are not already a subscriber, please call (800) GO-YANKS or logon to http://www.yankees.com/publications to get on board. In addition to the print version of Yankees Magazine, we also offer an on-line version.
–Alfred Santasiere III
February 19, 2013 – If you are going to be at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa to catch Spring Training baseball, don’t miss the chance to pick up a copy of the New York Yankees Official 2013 Spring Training Program, which comes out on February 21.
The cover of the program features a photo that Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello took of the lasting tribute to the late George Steinbrenner – a statue of the Boss that stands outside the main gate of the ballpark that bears his name. The photo is framed by two palm trees, and it was taken on a day in which there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. In my opinion, the image represents many of the things that are great about Spring Training – the Yankees storied history, warm weather and a beautiful setting.
In addition to senior editor Nathan Maciborski’s story on the return of Mariano Rivera and my Q&A feature with Reggie Jackson and Mike Schmidt (see blog post about Spring Issue of Yankees Magazine), the spring training program also includes a feature that details the wild experience that Spring Training can be for a young player. For “Melting Pot,” contributing writer Mark Feinsand interviewed current and former Yankees players about what it’s like to be around baseball immortals for a month. The players shared stories about the first time they met and got to work with the likes of Yogi Berra, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry and Reggie Jackson, all of whom have been Spring Training instructors for years. Feinsand also explains how those legendary Yankees taught the young players about the associated with playing for the Yankees.
Again, the Spring Training program will be available at George M. Steinbrenner Field. If you can’t make it to Florida this spring, please call (800) GO-YANKS to order your copy of this keepsake.
–Alfred Santasiere III