New York Yankees: Brett Gardner… A Look Back… And Forward?
Brett Gardner, the left-fielder who spent his entire 14 year Major League career with the New York Yankees, certainly brings back many memories to fans.
Brett began playing college baseball as a walk-on at the College of Charleston in 2001. He was a three-year starter, who as a junior, batted .397, and his senior year improved to .447, and tied for the most hits in college baseball with 122. He also set a school record with 85 runs scored, and led the Southern Conference with 38 stolen bases.
As a result, Gardner was selected in the third round of the MLB draft by the New York Yankees in 2005. Brett made his major league debut on June 30, 2008. On July 26, he was optioned back to AAA. He returned 25 days later and finished his rookie season playing in 42 games, hitting .226 with 16 RBI and 13 stolen bases.
That was the beginning of a career in which Brett would be a World Series champion in 2009, along with the following highlights/awards:
All Star, 2015
Gold Glove, 2016
AL Stolen base leader, 2011
AL Triple hit leader, 2013
Fielding Bible Award Recipient, 2010, 2011, 2017
Brett’s career stats:
Batting average: .256
Home runs: 139
Stolen bases: 274
Brett was a fixture on the Yankees for those 14 years, and when posed the question on social media (Facebook and Twitter) of “what is your favorite memory of Brett Gardner,” the overwhelming response was related to his fire and famous dugout bashing antics. He was a passionate player who sometimes took his frustration out on the roof of the dugout and other inanimate objects within the reach of his bat. On Facebook, Anahid Balikdjian said,” He was a fast runner stealing bases, the wonderful saves at his post, and best of all, BANG, BANG, BANG AWAY!”
At the time, after a game ejection, and players making a gesture of Brett’s bat banging when reaching base, Aaron Judge said, “he’s one of the leaders of this team. We do alot of crazy things in the dugout. We’re showing support for for him with that. You’ll be seeing alot more of that.”
Brett”s response was quite nonchalant and business as usual, saying, “I didn’t think I was doing anything to warrant getting thrown out or even close to being ejected.”
On Twitter, @cp7ny said his favorite memories were, “The home run vs the Cubs, but just his overall play is something I’ll always love. Solid at bats, good, defense, good base-running, and always hustling. Hopefully he will be a coach for the Yankees someday.”
The home run was a walk off, that Brett hit with 2 strikes against him of which Chase Headley, who also scored, said,” he was drooling when he was coming around the bases, he was so fired up! ”
CJ Roberts on Facebook said, “When he was called up it was all about his speed, then he added power, great all-around player. And to think I didn’t like him when he was called up!
Another memory is when Brett visited a Children’s Hospital and was given a bracelet by a patient named Alyssa, in need of a heart transplant. She told him that he would hit a home run if he kept it. He thought to himself that he’s not a home run hitter, but then magically hit the first inside-the-park home run in almost 10 years at Yankee Stadium. Alyssa received her heart the following morning after waiting 117 days.
Certainly there were special times associated with the 14 year career of Brett Gardner. We know what he contributed in the past. What could he bring to the future of the New York Yankees?
The Yankees… who have so much promise after locking up Aaron Judge to a nine-year deal, appointing him Captain, have a great mix of returning veterans and those prospects who are shaking things up in spring training and vying for positions? What could they possibly need?
With the addition of the expanded sized bases this year in the game, and Brett’s success on the base paths, he could possibly make a difference there. Speed on those bigger bases would be welcome.
And Brett Gardner would be the perfect fit to teach and mentor the returning and new Yankees. His knowledge being in the organization for 14 years, experience in the league and with opponents and others, dedication, proven passion for the game and team are all assets he could bring in a position within the Yankees.
At the very least, the Yankees should sign Brett to a one-day contract, allow him to retire in Pinstripes, and have a celebratory day in the Bronx. And while they’re at it, give away bats to all attendees. With a mini dugout roof attached. Bang, Brett Gardner!