TAMPA – Before I left New York for spring training, Yankee team president Randy Levine told me that I should make it a point of meeting our newest pitcher, Gerrit Cole. He told me that there is something very special about him. Randy Levine has big passion for the Yankees and understands that not just anyone can come to New York and take the Yankees to the promised land the way a Ron Guidry or Catfish Hunter did. However, Randy, like Brian Cashman, along with Hal and Hank Steinbrenner have a real good feeling about Cole.
When I got to camp I saw all the attention Gerrit was getting so I decided to keep my distance because I didn’t want to get in the way. Yesterday when I was leaving Steinbrenner Field, I saw a figure walking towards me in the dark Yankee tunnel. I looked up and it was Gerrit Cole. I told him who I was and he could not have been more pleasant. He told me that he was really enjoying being a Yankee. I stupidly got confused with the fact that Cole had always been a Yankee fan and said to him that I loved that he was a New York guy. He immediately straightened me out and told me that he was a California guy then we laughed.
The thing that I liked the most about Cole was the fact that when I mentioned that the kids of New York were looking forward to meeting him , his eyes sparkled as he said that he couldn’t wait to meet them too.
I was there when George Steinbrenner signed Catfish Hunter and that was truly a great time for the Yankees and New York. Forty five years later to see Hal and Hank Steinbrenner do the same thing with Gerrit Cole truly brings that same excitement and energy to a city that is really longing for it… and a World Championship.