Inspirational Story on Mariano Rivera – in the October Issue of Yankees Magazine

October 2, 2015 – On September 3, I covered a special story in Scranton, Pennsylvania that centered around Mariano Rivera.

That night, the Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, honored Rivera at their ballpark. But prior to those festivities, Rivera inspired two distinct groups of people, the first of which was the highlight of the day.

At about 4:30 pm, an SUV pulled into the driveway of Temple Hesed in Scranton, where the NativityMiguel School is housed. Rivera jumped out of the vehicle and walked into the ground floor of the building. There, on the first day of the school year — and the first day of classes ever for the school — the 16-person student body beamed as Rivera walked into their classroom.

NativityMiguel is a tuition-free, Catholic school, which provides private education to fifth graders from low-income families, and the Scranton chapter is one of 64 in North America.

Once Rivera got to the front of the classroom, the students walked up to him and introduced themselves. A few minutes later, Rivera addressed the group and then each student asked the former closer a question.

“Were you ever nervous when you went into a game?” a child asked, as he read the question off of a post-it note.

“Yeah, I was nervous,” Rivera answered. “Being nervous is OK. It’s part of being human. Don’t ever think that there is anything wrong with being nervous. The problem is when you are nervous when you are actually working or taking a test. I was nervous before I went into games, but once I went out to the mound, I was not nervous. I was in control.”

After the Q&A, the group moved to another room, where 16 RailRiders jerseys were hanging from a bookshelf. The jerseys had each of the children’s last name and Rivera’s No. 42 stitched across their backs.

Rivera’s 30-minute visit to the school concluded a few minutes later, as he was quickly whisked back to PNC Field. Before throwing out a ceremonial first pitch, the future Hall of Famer delivered a moving speech to a RailRiders team that would clinch the International League’s North Division.

“What you guys do is amazing,” Rivera told the players from the middle of the home clubhouse. “Only a handful of people in the world can do what you do. But this is only the beginning. This is not it. I hope you guys don’t want to stay here. Playing in the majors is incredible. That’s where you really get to shine.”

For the entire story, including some exclusive quotes from my interview with Rivera later that evening, pick up a copy of the October Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III


The Art of Sport with Olympic Hero Mike Eruzione

October 2, 2015 – In addition to my Art of Sport feature with New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes (see blog entry below), the October Issue of Yankees Magazine includes a Q&A with the man who authored one of the single most dramatic moments in sports history.

Thirty-five years ago, Mike Eruzione gave the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team a 4-3 lead over the heavily-favored Soviet Union squad with 10 minutes left in the first of two medal-round games. The United States held on to win that game and then captured the gold medal two days later against Finland. For the captain of America’s iconic team, that goal was life-changing, and I was proud to interview Eruzione in Boston this summer.

As if breaking bread with Eruzione wasn’t great enough, the location of our lunch made the experience even better. Eruzione agreed to meet me at Beantown’s famous Union Oyster House, which holds the distinction of being America’s oldest restaurant.

The symbolism didn’t end there. Thanks to the gracious management of the restaurant, we sat at the most famous booth in the Union Oyster House, a table that President John F. Kennedy referred to as his favorite and which he sat at frequently, even on a few Election Days.

Much of our conversation was about the 1980 Olympics, and I was fascinated by every part of it, including when Eruzione spoke about the night before the game against the Soviets in Lake Placid, New York.

“I missed curfew,” Eruzione said. “My father, my cousin, my high school football coach and three other friends drove from Boston to Lake Placid in a Winnebago for the game. I had a state police officer take me to the campsite they were at, and I had a few beers and hamburgers. The police officer brought me back to the Olympic Village at about 10:30, and I hung out with Jim Craig and Bill Baker for a little while.”

Eruzione also revealed when the magnitude of the game against the Soviets sunk in for him.

“When we walked into the locker room, there were bags of mail with telegrams in them, and I’ll always remember one that I got from a lady in Texas,” Eruzione said. “It read, ‘Beat those [communists].’ It had nothing to do with the hockey game, but that made me realize that this was bigger than a hockey game for people in this country. To me, it was a hockey game, but our country was looking for something to feel good about because of the hostages, the troubling economy and the gas shortage. We were tired of people losing faith in our country.”

As our conversation turned to the gold medal game — in which the United Stated defeated Finland two days after they shocked the Soviets — Eruzione shared what I think was the best anecdote in the conversation. It epitomized the spirit of the team and their late head coach, Herb Brooks.

“As great as the Soviet victory was, we didn’t go to the Olympics to win one game,” Eruzione said. “Our dream was to win the gold medal. I will never forget being in the locker room before the third period of the Finland game. We were losing 2-1. Herb walked in and said, “If you lose this game, you’ll take it to your [freaking] graves.” Then he walked to the door, stopped and said, “Your [freaking] graves.” He was so right. After having come that far, worked that hard and accomplished so much, if we had let it skip away, it would have stayed with us forever. We went out and played the best 20 minutes of hockey in the Olympics, scored three goals and won 4-2.”

To read the rest of this special Q&A feature, grab a copy of the October Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III

July 21, 2015, Boston, MA: Former Olympic hockey player Mike Eruzione is interviewed by New York Yankees Director of Publications Al Santasieri at the Kennedy Booth inside the Union Oyster House in Boston, Massachusetts Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (Photos by Billie Weiss/New York Yankees)

The Art of Sport with New Jersey Devils Head Coach John Hynes

October 2, 2015 – A few months ago, I traveled to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to interview New Jersey Devils first-year head coach John Hynes for an Art of Sport Q&A in the October Issue of Yankees Magazine.

Prior to being named the Devils bench boss, Hynes was the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, leading them to five consecutive playoff appearances. Like Hynes, I have some history with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ minor league affiliate, having served as the team’s media relations intern from 1999 through 2001.

That connection brought me to a table at the Chill Grill in Northeastern Pennsylvania for lunch with Hynes and a few mutual friends from the Penguins.

During our conversation, I asked Hynes about being one of four NHL head coaches who previously coached the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

“As a coach, if you’re going to have success, it really comes down to two things: Are you provided with the resources you need to win games, and are you provided with good players?” Hynes said. “When you look at the way Wilkes-Barre/Scranton teams have been built, you know they’ve been filled with high-character people with great work ethic and commitment. That helped me succeed there, and I think it helped the other coaches do well there, also. Being successful in the American Hockey League gives you a good chance to get an opportunity in the NHL, and that has now happened for all of us.”

Hynes, the NHL’s youngest head coach, also shared what he is most looking forward to in his new job.

“I can’t wait to being working with the players,” he said. “That’s something I’ve felt at every level, but now, I have the opportunity to work with some of the best players in the world. That’s an exciting challenge. The other thing I’m looking forward to is coaching in the “Original Six” NHL arenas and competing against the rival teams.”

At the end of the interview, I asked Hynes what it was like to work with the captain of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team, Mike Eruizione (who will also be featured in the October Issue of Yankees Magazine). When Hynes played college hockey at Boston University in the mid-’90s, Eruzione was on the team’s coaching staff.

“Mike was able to relate some of his experiences from the 1980 Olympics to what we were doing,” Hynes said. “He encouraged us to work hard, but to also have fun. Having Mike in the room helped us deal with the ups and downs of the season. He brought an attitude of understanding when things didn’t go well, and he was very positive all the time. He played a big role in keeping the team loose and focused.”

The start of hockey season is almost here, and regardless of which team you’ll be rooting for, this Q&A is a great read.

–Alfred Santasiere III


Special Fishing Story with Wade Boggs – in the October Issue of Yankees Magazine

October 2, 2015 – On a chilly spring day earlier this year, I joined Wade Boggs on a fishing trip that began in Staten Island, New York. I met the former Yankees third baseman and a few of his friends at a marina, and we quickly boarded Fin Chaser — a 32-foot fishing boat — and set a course for the Atlantic Ocean.

For Boggs and the boat’s captain, the expedition was just one of many that will be seen on a new reality fishing show beginning in January 2016 on Discovery’s Destination channel, the Pursuit Channel as well on as Time Warner Cable’s Sports Channel in North Carolina and South Carolina.

The show, named The Fin Chasers, chronicles Boggs’ pursuit of multiple world records and fishing tournament victories. Boggs broke the world Bluefish record and tied the record for the largest striped bass on the day that he shot the pilot episode.

While I fished with Boggs the entire day, I also chronicled his every move and interviewed him during jaunts from one location on the sea to another, for a feature story in the October Issue of Yankees Magazine.

Although no one on the boat reeled in a world record, we all caught a few bluefish ranging in weight between 5 and 10 pounds.

“I love catching bluefish,” Boggs said. “Even when they are 5 or 10 pounds, they are ferocious. They always give you a fight.”

Although I hadn’t caught a bluefish in several years, I was reminded of how fierce they are as soon as I hooked into one. Making things even more challenging was the light spinning tackle that we were using, and before I caught my first fish of the day, two others broke the line.

When I finally landed a bluefish, Boggs celebrated the accomplishment like we had just won a championship. Not only was the nearly 10-minute battle with the 8-pound fish — during which it swan in just about every direction — memorable, but so was Boggs’ jubilation and the relief that I felt (see photo below). As a longtime angler myself, my desire to catch a fish with Boggs was palpable.

Sometime that afternoon — after a few more fish and a few more cold beers — Boggs called it a day. The Hall of Famer and his group shot a closing scene for that day’s episode in the shadow of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

“Well, we didn’t catch any world records on this trip,” Boggs said. “But we had a great day.”

Check out the entire story, which includes much more detail about Boggs’ fishing adventures, in the October Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III


Good-bye, Yogi

October 2, 2015 – In the days following Yogi Berra’s passing, I spent a considerable amount of time reminiscing about the great Yankees catcher. I thought about the many instances in which I was fortunate enough to spend time with him. I remembered back on the day I spent with Berra at his museum and then his house in 2009 for a feature story I’ll always be proud to have written (see photo below). So many other memories of seeing No. 8 at Yankee Stadium or in highlight reels have also flashed through my mind in recent days.

While the sentimental feelings stayed with me, I also prepared to write my Press Box column for the October Issue of Yankees Magazine about Berra. That was a challenging task, but not because I didn’t have good material to put the piece together. The challenging aspect was filling a page with thoughts that were different from those in the thousands of other stories that had been written about Berra since he passed — so many of which detailed his heroism in World War II, his Hall of Fame career and the charisma that propelled him to be one of the most well-known and well-liked people in the United States.

And so, I surmised that the only unique angle that I could take was to focus on my own personal experiences with Berra. In doing so, I quickly realized that, like so many others, I got to see the best of Berra.

In my opinion, the truest measure of a person is how they treat others. Berra not only treated me with kindness all the time, but everyone I’ve ever seen him come into contact with got the same treatment. Also, regardless of what subject I asked him about — including his participation in the D-Day invasion as part of the United States Navy — he remained humble. He was as humble as anyone could ever be, and he had so much to brag about.

The legacy that Berra left through his service to America, through his captivating play, leadership as a manager and coach and — most importantly — through the way he treated others, is one for the ages.

He will be missed, but I’m hopeful that more people will follow the example he set. If that happens, Yogi will continue to make the world a better place forever.

–Alfred Santasiere III


September Issue of Yankees Magazine – ON SALE, SEPTEMBER 4

September 2, 2015 – The September Issue of Yankees Magazine will be on sale this Friday, September 4 at Yankee Stadium and on newsstands in the Tri-State area.

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

The September edition has two covers. The cover that will be sold all month features a beautiful portrait of two of the most important members of the Yankees 2015 team, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Chief photographer Ariele Goldman Hecht took the cover photo in center field earlier this season, and executive editor Ken Derry scribed a great story on the dominance of the two relief pitchers, who have owned the eighth and ninth innings this season.

The other September cover features an image of an emotion-filled Alex Rodriguez, seconds after his June 19 home run sailed into the right-field seats at Yankee Stadium, putting him in the 3,000 hits club.

That cover will be sold at Yankee Stadium on September 13. That afternoon, the Yankees will be celebrating Rodriguez’ 3,000th hit accomplishment in a special pregame ceremony. In addition to the special commemorative Alex Rodriguez cover, the September Issue will include a commemorative section on No. 13.

After sitting down with A-Rod for an exclusive interview in August, I penned one of the features in the section. My story details Rodriguez’ impressive comeback in 2015 and includes his candid words on several topics surrounding his success (see blog entry below).

The section also includes senior editor Jon Schwartz’ recap of 13 of A-Rod’s most magical hits prior to No. 3,000.

There’s a lot more in the September Issue, including three special Q&A features. Earlier this summer, I sat down with Hall of Famer Joe Torre and New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin for a feature that any fan of sports in the Big Apple will enjoy (see blog entry below). And, last fall, I interviewed Hall of Fame quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Warren Moon for two special Art of Sport pieces, which are also in the September Issue.

Enjoy this issue.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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2015 Edition of Yankees Magazine en Español – ON SALE, SEPTEMBER 4

September 2, 2015 – The 2015 Edition of Yankees Magazine en Español will be on sale this Friday, September 4 at Yankee Stadium and on newsstands in the Tri-State area.

This publication is the fourth annual edition of Yankees Magazine en Español, and in my opinion, it’s gotten better each year.

For the first time in the four-year history of the publication, we have produced two covers. Since the Yankees retired the numbers of Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada and dedicated Monument Park plaques to both of them in 2015, we decided to further honor the Puerto Rico born legends. Half of the magazines feature a portrait of Williams on the cover and the other half feature a portrait of Posada.

Within the pages of this publication, you’ll find two features on Posada. In January, I caught up with the former catcher in Miami, and captured his words about his entire professional career (see blog entry below). And during the summer, I spent a day with Posada in Puerto Rico for an exclusive look at his childhood.

I was also in Puerto Rico in 2014 with Williams, and in addition to the story that we published that last year on his upbringing, I spoke with the centerfielder about his career in pinstripes for a feature that is included in the 2015 edition of Yankees Magazine en Español.

Senior editor Jon Schwartz traveled to Puerto Rico last winter and spent some time with Carlos Beltran for an exclusive story on the Yankees rightfielder. Schwartz’ feature, along with team photographer James Petrozzello’s images from that trip are among the best we’ve published in a long time.

Around the same time that Schwartz was in Puerto Rico, executive editor Ken Derry traveled to the Dominican Republic to cover the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame festivities and to explore the baseball culture there. Don’t miss Derry’s story in this special publication.

Lastly, as I described on this blog, I have had the opportunity to conduct two exclusive interviews with Alex Rodriguez over the summer. My Q&A feature with A-Rod, which was originally published in the August Issue of Yankees Magazine, can also be found in Yankees Magazine en Español. In English and in Spanish, it offers a unique look at the game’s most compelling player in 2015.

Enjoy this annual publication.

–Alfred Santasiere III



Special Feature on Alex Rodriguez – in the September Issue of Yankees Magazine

September 2, 2015 – About a month after I sat down with Alex Rodriguez for lunch in Boston (for a feature in the August Issue of Yankees Magazine), I met up with the No. 13 at The Mark Hotel in New York City for an even more candid interview.

A-Rod’s words from my latest interview with him are part of a feature story that I wrote for the September Issue. That feature details his great comeback during the 2015 season.

Soon after A-Rod got to the restaurant inside the hotel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I asked him about the game-tying grand slam he hit a day earlier against the Minnesota Twins.

“That was a special moment,” Rodriguez said. You could feel the buzz in the Stadium. Anytime you do something to help win a game, especially in the late innings, especially in a pennant race in the middle of August, it’s huge for the team.”

Besides discussing several of his other clutch hits in 2015, the humble Rodriguez talked to me about his struggles in the month of August.

When I reminded him that he told me a month earlier that he believed he would get stronger in the second half of the season (which has not been the case), A-Rod acknowledged a factor he had not considered.

“When I said that, I didn’t account for one thing — my age,” he said. “I’m feeling it. But that’s part of managing the game and the season.”

Despite those comments, A-Rod wasn’t conceding anything in the conversation.

“The good news is that September is right around the corner,” he said. “From my own experiences, I feel like you always turn the corner in late August and get your second wind. You really start sprinting toward the finish line as fall approaches.”

Rodriguez also shared his feelings on what I feel is the most compelling aspect of his comeback from a year-long suspension. While it’s difficult to imagine that a player who has nearly 700 home runs, more than 2,000 RBI and more than 3,000 hits to his name is still carving out his legacy, that is the case with Rodriguez.

“I’m really grateful that I’m getting this chance to write a different ending,” A-Rod said. “I wanted to contribute to the team and do what I love. And I wanted my baseball career to be about more than my mistakes. I screwed up, but hopefully this season will show that I’m about more than my mistakes.”

–Alfred Santasiere III


The Art of Sport with Bill Cowher

August 24, 2015 – On Saturday morning, just prior to when the Jorge Posada festivities kicked off, I spent some time in a private suite with former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach and current CBS football analyst Bill Cowher.

Getting the opportunity to interview Cowher for an upcoming Art of Sport feature was very exciting. Although I was never a Steelers fan, Cowher has long been one of my favorite people in sports. Whether it was his intensity or his story, (more on that in the Q&A) it was hard not to root for him.

At the beginning of the interview, I asked Cowher — who grew up in Pittsburgh and whose dream it was to coach the Steelers — to describe the experience of getting hired to lead the team when he was only 35 years old.

“It was a thrill,” he said. “When I got the job, one of the first things I thought about was, if I don’t’ screw this up in three years, I can go back to my high school reunion as the head coach of my hometown team. My first goal was to make it to my 20th high school reunion, and that worked out.

“Also, my parents and my brothers sill lived in Pittsburgh,” he continued. “That really made it a dream come true. But when you’re in the middle of it, you’re just coaching. Re-establishing that football team so that they could compete for a championship every year was what I was focused on. That couldn’t have happened in a better place because that’s where my roots were.”

Cowher also spoke with me about the heartbreak of losing the 1994 AFC Championship Game on the last play, and then winning the AFC crown the following season, in an equally as dramatic scenario.

“Our season came down to the last play with a chance to go to the Super Bowl,” Cowher said. “Literally, a year later, we were in the same situation. We were dealing with the same end zone in the same stadium. The first time we were on offense, and the second time we were on defense. When we won, it was a tremendous, overwhelming feeling.”

Finally, I asked Cowher to discuss the man of the hour, Jorge Posada. I was impressed by his response and by the comparison he made to a guy who helped him win the Super Bowl in 2006.

“When you see a guy spend 17 seasons with one team, win five championships and play catcher, that’s pretty incredible,” Cowher said. “Jorge was a selfless leader and the kind of guy who was going to be there when you needed him. He reminded me of Jerome Bettis in that you almost took him for granted. Then, when he’s gone, you see the impact he had on the organization and the individual players, whose eyes light up when they talk about him. That’s how it was with Jerome, and I can only imagine that Jorge has the same effect on the people who played alongside him. Today’s honors are well deserved, and I’m glad I’m here to see it happen.”

–Alfred Santasiere III


Pinstriped Legends

August 24, 2015 – The last two days have included celebrations at Yankee Stadium. On Saturday, the Yankees dedicated a plaque to Jorge Posada and retired his number, and a day later, Andy Pettitte received the same honors.

Having been around both players for several years, I’m thrilled that No. 20 and No. 46 will never be worn again in a Yankees uniform. Posada and Pettitte were essential to a run of five championships — and as any sports enthusiast knows, that type of success is incredibly rare.

I’ve had the great privilege to cover both players since I began working for the Yankees in 2003, and in the last year, I’ve spent time with each of them in their homes. It’s been an honor.

As I stood on the field for the ceremonies, I was especially sentimental watching career highlight videos of the gritty catcher and pitcher. As I said to my wife, Tiana, after the Pettitte ceremony, “It’s too bad they had to get old — or at least too old to still play the game.” But time marches on, and the memories they left us with will never leave. Posada and Pettitte left nothing on the field, and they are so very deserving of these honors.

Our team of photographers were also on the field, and they captured every moment of the ceremonies. Below are two photos that will be published in the September Issue of Yankees Magazine.

–Alfred Santasiere III




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