Negron: Gardy, it’s the 10th year anniversary since that little girl got her heart and to this day she says the reason she’s alive is because of you. How does that make you feel?
Gardner: Well it makes me feel great. I think we all know that the reason she’s doing as well as she’s doing is not because of me, but because of her fighting as hard as she’s fought, and obviously the great doctors and medical staff that made everything possible with her transplant. My heart goes out to her and her family, I know they’ve been through a lot but I’m so glad to know that she’s still doing well and I look forward to hopefully having them out to a game at the stadium this summer and can spend a little time together.
Negron: They say when a player puts on this uniform, they become superman. That night even though you doubted the fact you say you’re not a home run hitter it happened anyway against all odds. Do you remember that night?
Gardner: Yeah I definitely do, I remember like it was yesterday. Early on in your career I think you try and really take everything in and appreciate it as much as you can because you don’t know how many more opportunities you’ll have and here I am 10 years later, more towards the end of my career, and again you try to take all the moments in and something special like that I’ll never forget.
Negron: You have accomplished more things than many people ever thought you would. Today I said to myself I didn’t even realize this man hit 21 home runs last year for a leadoff guy and center fielder for the Yankees, I mean Mickey Rivers and guys like this never did that. Are you superman?
Gardner: I don’t think so. I’m 34 years old but I’m playing alongside all these young guys that we’ve had come up over the last few years and it has me feeling young again. Also I’ve been trying to do a good job in the offseason especially and during the season of taking care of my body and my mind and just being in a good place to come in here and prepare for the season. I love our chances right now and I think our team has a lot of talent and I’m excited to be here.
Negron: Last thing, you have accomplished a lot but at the same time you have given a lot to the kids whether it’s Hope Week or just you on your own visiting these schools and visiting these hospitals and just reaching out to people who didn’t think they had something to live for. Where does Alyssa rank with all these great things that you’ve done off the field?
Gardner: Well I mean I think right up there at, or near, the top. I mean what she went through is nothing short of a miracle. I’ve got two young boys of my own and obviously been blessed in a whole lot of ways but not everybody is fortunate to be in a position that I’m in, that we’re in as baseball players especially putting on the pinstripes we’ve got the ability to make a big impact with a lot of people and obviously kids and kids that are in need. It’s always great to be able to offer them a little bit of hope and lift them up and really show them to try to keep things into perspective and keep fighting for whatever it is that they’re fighting for.
Negron: The very last, last thing I lied before. Let me just say last year you reached out to a little boy who before his surgery he needed for you to know that even though he was going to lose his leg, he was going to be okay. How and why is it that you’re so loved that way?
Gardner: Well I’m not sure. I guess coming up I was kind of always the underdog and I guess a lot of people can relate with that and pull for a guy like that. Just very blessed to be in the position I’m in; to be able to touch and affect as many people as I have and will continue to do and try not to take anything for granted and just really appreciate my time here.
Negron: I’ve been with the Yankees for 45 years and I just want to say that you have been one of the great role models and I thank you for that.
Gardner: Thanks Ray I appreciate it, and thanks for all you do for me and the community as well.