(Photo: New York Yankees)
One of the members of the new legendary group, the Core Four, was honored by the franchise on Sunday. Following his former teammate, Jorge Posada who was saluted on Saturday, Andy Pettitte received a similar honor on Sunday afternoon. The stars of the playoff and World Series winning teams in the 1990’s and early 2000’s have been in the spotlight during the past two seasons.
Although the ceremony was very similar to the one held one afternoon earlier, the thrill for the fans of the team during that period was not lessened. Pettitte was joined by many members of his family to share the glory and joy he received. Present on the field with him were his wife, his four children, his mother and father, his in-laws, and his daughter-in-law.
Many of the former Yankees greats who attended the Posada salute on the previous day were again present to help honor their teammate. In attendance were teammates Scott Brosius, David Cone, Hideki Matsui, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams and Core Four members Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.
The fourth member of the special group of Yankees, Mariano Rivera, was on-the-field to present Pettitte with a jeweled base that was autographed by all of the day’s special guests. Rivera and Pettitte teamed for many Yankees wins as Rivera saved 72 of the right-hander’s starts.
Other guests saluting Pettitte were his manager Joe Torre, the general manager who signed him to a contract, Gene Michael, the team’s trainer Gene Monahan, and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.
An interesting video of the hurler’s career that was shown on the screen in center field began the ceremony. A nice touch was having Pettitte introduced by the voice of the late public address legend Bob Sheppard while the pitcher was standing on the bullpen mound.
After the Pettitte family departed Monument Park and circled the field by automobile to join the other guests in the infield, gifts were presented. A replica of the Monument Park Plaque was presented by Pettitte’s former catcher and manager Joe Girardi, a replica of his retired jersey No. 46 was given by Hal and Christina Steinbrenner and Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal presented Pettitte a career milestone ring.
Pettitte, a soft spoken and very religious individual, was inclusive in his utterance of gratitude for those who aided him in his lengthy major league career; he mentioned family, friends, teammates, trainers, strength staff, managers, coaches, the scout who signed him, Joe Robinson, those who arranged the ceremony, Debbie Tymon and Rob Bernstein and closed by thanking the “best fans in the world.”
Pettitte spoke of the incredulity he felt when he began with the Yankees in the majors in 1995, “A dream of mine as a boy had come true.” He said he felt something during Sunday’s ceremony that he could not have imagined when he was a rookie 20 years ago. He also mentioned the strangeness of a boy born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and living with his family in Deer Park, Texas being able to find “ a second home in New York.”
The weekend ceremonies were connected in Pettitte’s mind as he said, “I’m just so proud I could share this weekend with Posada.” Posada caught 100 of Pettitte’s 219 Yankee wins. They were a battery again as Pettitte threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Posada.