From Jeter To Judge…Why I’ll Always Wear Pinstripes

Yeah, I know. Today is Game 7 of the World Series between the Dodgers and Astros. Arguably the greatest fall classic of all time. The cities of Houston and Los Angeles have been electric and their fans have shown such passion for their teams. Reminds me of the love and passion I have for my team…

Growing up in Central Jersey, I loved nothing more than the New York Yankees and their rich history. When it was playoff time I was glued to the TV, next to my Mom and Dad, pulling for Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Tino Martinez to get that big hit. And guys like Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and El Duque to come through with that big strikeout. And how about the unsung heroes like Scott Brosious or Aaron Boone? These guys gave me unforgettable memories and made me fall in love with the game of baseball.

 To the rest of the world, these guys were better known as the Bronx Bombers.

 As a kid, I remember those World Series in the 90’s and early 2000’s like they were yesterday. They were always special to me because I’d always wake up to my dad either cheering loud on a big play or booing even louder on a bad play (we are Yankee fans, you know how it is). The next morning, my mom or dad would go to tell me the Yanks won or lost. Before they could even get it out, I’d yell “Do not to tell me anything!” I wanted to watch the highlights on SportsCenter , before school, and see them for myself.

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 The only “magic” I knew as a kid was “Yankee Magic”. The magic that made Derek Jeter, “Mr. November”, with his game winning home run at the stroke of midnight; The magic that made Aaron Boone that unsung hero, with his game winning home run off Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of 2003 ALCS. I mean, that is what every little kid dreams of, right? All of these magical moments made me and the rest of the world believe they had what it took to be a ball player too.

 I always would hear “Oh you guys buy championships”, from my bitter friends that were either Red Sox or Mets fans, but to me all I saw were a group of guys that never gave up. They had a lot to do with who I became as a baseball player myself, but I’ll get back to that.  I fell so in love with the Yankees I would try to replicate their exact mannerisms, from the “Jeter Jump Throw” all the way to listening to Mariano’s, “Enter Sandman” (yes its Mariano’s, not Metallica’s haha), as he ran in from the bullpen to close another one of his record breaking saves.

 A day that stuck with me throughout my career was the day the Yankees called me on February 9, 2015, and invited me to come throw at their Spring Training facility in Tampa, Florida, with the opportunity to earn a spot on a roster in their minor league system. Unfortunately, I did not earn that spot, but to have the opportunity to toe the rubber on the same field that many Yankee legends once practiced on and earned their spot, will be something I will treasure for my entire life.

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 After having the privilege to play the game I love for 20 years, all the way from t-ball to Professional Baseball, I hung up my spikes and started to really appreciate the beauty of the game from the outside looking in. On the field, I considered myself one of the most passionate players, and always wore my heart on my sleeve, just like those Yankee greats I got to watch growing up.

 Following playing all those years, I decided to take in my first Yankee playoff game this season. I’ve never been to the Bronx in October before. I went to Game 5 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros. The atmosphere was like no other; absolutely electric every single pitch. Fans from all over meeting at “The House that Jeter Built” to see the Yanks try to even up the ALCS at two games apiece.  Watching every pitch on TV is amazing, but to be at the stadium, watching role call and standing up clapping for every strikeout opportunity cannot be matched. The Yanks came out early and did not disappoint the home crowd, as they forced Dallas Keuchel to an early exit; their toughest rival over the past few years.  After the game all the fans flooded the streets, giving the now famous “thumbs down” sign, while making the transition from Sinatra’s “New York, New York” inside the stadium to Springsteen’s “Born To Run” playing inside Stan’s Sports across the street.

 After all these years, I found that the magic is still there. You see, the “Yankee Magic” actually never left. With guys like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorious, Luis Severino and Greg Bird, the Yanks are back in business, making their presence known and knocking on the door of another championship.

What unforgettable memories will be made in the Bronx over the next few years? Who will be our next big hero? I’m not sure. But I am sure about this…from Jeter to Judge, I’ll always wear pinstripes! And no matter what, I’ll always believe in magic!

– Carlos Ruiz

Digmi Contributing Author

 

 

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