Aaron Boone, excuse me, is a freak. Yankees managers rarely come out of nowhere. And yet, Boone did defy the odds – creating a baseball story…
He’s the Yankee’s player who hit the home run that lives in infamy on YouTube. The one that crushed Tim Wakefield and the Boston Red Sox, creating a welcome mat for Boone at Yankee Stadium during the annual Old Timer’s Celebration ad infinitum.
Boone is also the player, though, who dashed the Yankees hopes they had for him as a critical contributor at third base for the 2004 season when he turned to basketball during the offseason and suffered a knee injury that put his contract with the Yankees up for grabs.
Aaron Boone would go on to have a mostly undistinguished career with Washington, Cleveland, Houston, and Florida before he decided to “hang ’em up” in 2009.
That didn’t take too long as on February 23, 2010, Boone announced his retirement and that he would become an analyst for ESPN. A blip in the Yankees pond at the time.
During that time, I had the opportunity to interview Aaron Boone as part of a promo for ESPN’s coverage of Sunday Night Baseball at Yankee Stadium. I couldn’t help but be impressed by his tendencies to see the “upside” of many Yankee players who were struggling at the time.
Accolades came quickly from his peers though including this one from Jessica Mendoza:
I am so pumped for this next adventure for Aaron and his family and have no doubt he will bring even more success to the Yankee organization.Ben Cafardo, ESPN Pressroom
“Upside” is what Aaron Boone continues to be all about. He believes in his players, and the magic of it all stems from the fact his players reciprocate – and believe in him.
As recently as yesterday, Boone spoke to a reporter breathing fresh air into his team that is still in the wake of a devasting and season-ending loss to the Houston Astros in last year’s ALCS, despite winning 100 or more games for the second time in the regular season.
Aaron Boone has come into his own. He’s the poster boy for the man in the right place at the right time. A decade ago, a person would be laughed out town suggesting Aaron Boone? – as the manager of the New York Yankees?
Yet here he is. The luckiest man in the world, who inherited a team of Baby Bombers that ESPN couldn’t help but gush over in 2017, as the new generation’s so-called Evil Empire.
Oddly, real success has yet to come to Boone or the Yankees as that elusive 28th World Championship is still in play.
No one knows better than Aaron Boone; this is not horseshoes, and close doesn’t count. Like his players and Yankees fans, he feels the pain of choosing the word “hungry” to describe the team’s quest in 2020.
Remove Aaron Boone from the Yankees scene today, and he would still be on board as a respected analyst on the ESPN stage, or perhaps elsewhere on the ever-present baseball fueled television stage.
Consider it a matter of fortune though, for Aaron Boone, his family, the Yankees and their fans that he is where he is now.
His is a baseball journey filled with surprise and drama – some good and some not so good as we’ve learned.
Still, it’s impossible to think Aaron Boone doesn’t pinch himself every morning in realizing he is – the manager of the New York Yankees.