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

By Alfred Santasiere III

September 12, 2016 — A few days after Alex Rodriguez told the world that he would be playing his last game in pinstripes in mid-August, I traveled to Boston to chronicle his final days between the white lines.

In the hours leading up to the three games at Fenway Park — which immediately preceded A-Rod’s Aug. 12 final game at Yankee Stadium — I spoke with him three times. Each time we talked, the veteran of 22 major league seasons was more sentimental than he was in the previous conversation.

“It hit me harder today than it did yesterday,” Rodriguez said prior to the second game of the series. “When the clock is ticking on the one thing you’ve done your whole life, you want time to stand still. But that’s not how it works.”

Moments after making that comment to me in the visiting dugout, A-Rod launched pitch after pitch out of the park during batting practice, including one that traveled nearly 500 feet.

“I’m down to my last 72 hours as a player,” the 41-year-old said when he got back to the dugout. “I’m going to swing the bat hard, and I’m going to enjoy every pitch I hit out of here, even if they’re only in batting practice.”

During a longer conversation that evening, I asked A-Rod if he had reminisced about his first big-league game, which was also played in Fenway Park.

“I remember sitting right here,” A-Rod said from the dugout. “I was 18 years old, and I had just gotten called up by the Mariners and met the team in Boston. The one thing I remember is how nervous I was. I was sitting here, and my knees were actually shaking. I was only a year removed from my high school graduation, and I was about to play in a major league game in front of a packed house at Fenway Park. That was a life-changing event.”

As that conversation played out, A-Rod spoke about several other key moments during a career that has included three American League MVP Awards, 696 home runs, more than 3,000 hits and an epic performance in the 2009 postseason.

“I thought about winning that World Series a lot today,” he said. “I keep flashing back to that. It’s nice to think about.”

On his last day at Fenway Park as a Yankees player, A-Rod did something he long considered a “bucket-list thing.”

As batting practice was winding down, A-Rod walked out to left field and through a door that led to the inside of the famed Green Monster. Once inside, he posed for photos with the medal №13 sign used for the ballpark’s scoreboard on the wall. Yankees chief photographer Ariele Goldman Hecht captured that exclusive image for the story.

The following night, Rodriguez and his team returned home and took on the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. That game would mark A-Rod’s last as a Yankees player, and it proved to be a special swan song. He collected an RBI double in the first inning and made one last appearance at third base in the ninth. A sold-out crowd gave him long ovations when he ran out to the hot corner for the last time, when he was pulled from the game and after the Yankees victory.

All of the emotional moments from that night are included in my story, along with several behind-the-scenes photos and anecdotes that you will only find in the September Issue of Yankees Magazine or at www.yankees.com/magazine, where we are putting our longform content online.

— Alfred Santasiere III

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