Prior to his first start as a New York Yankee, Sonny Gray released a post in The Players’ Tribune titled “New York, I’m Ready to Go.”
In the post, the 27-year-old discusses multiple topics. He talks about his family, his time with the Athletics organization, and the excitement about his new opportunity with the Yankees.
Gray relates his time with the Athletics to when he plays baseball with Gunnar, his 2 1/2 year-old son. The rules are pretty lax and simple, but Gunnar is known to make sure one rule is never broken.
Both players must wear a hat, specifically a hat with the Oakland Athletics’ logo on it.
Just like Gunnar, the Oakland Athletics organization is the only one that Gray has ever known. As he closes the chapter on his time in Oakland, he realizes this is a huge change for him and his family.
“I’ll pitch to Gunnar … and he’ll hit ’em … and he’ll run the bases … and then we’ll do it all over again. But man, I’m telling you: If that hat falls off … Gunnar’ll flat-out stop the game and make you put it back on before you start playing again. That’s just The Rule — because that’s just how it works, I think, in his mind. When it comes to baseball, that’s all he’s ever known: You put on your A’s hat, and you go out and play.
And the truth is, I kind of know how Gunnar feels. Because when it comes to my career as a professional baseball player, the A’s are all I’ve ever known as well. I was drafted by the A’s in 2011, came up through their minor league system, and then got called up in 2013 — and I’ve been playing for them ever since. As a professional, the Oakland A’s have been my entire baseball life.
Which makes it tough to say goodbye.”
It’s clear to see that Oakland made a lasting impact on the 27-year-old. Gray has made some life-long friendships there, including with his manager, Bob Melvin.
“I’ll always be grateful for the trust that BoMel placed in me, and for the honest way that he treated me, both as a player and as a person. He’s someone who I felt like I could really talk to — about baseball and even beyond baseball, about life. And at this point I would just consider him a friend.”
In the article, Gray continues to talk about some of his favorite moments as a member of the A’s organization. He recalls his rookie season, when he was on the mound in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers.
The roar from the 50,000 people in attendance chanting “Son-ny! Son-ny! Son-ny!” will always stand out to him. Gray says it was “unbelievable” to hear that as a 23-year-old rookie in front of a sold-out crowd.
As he looks ahead to his time with the Bronx Bombers, Gray mentions that one particular Yankee team helped him realize he could turn the sport of baseball into a career.
“One of the baseball teams that really meant something to me growing up was the 2009 Yankees — the World Series winner, with CC and A.J. Burnett at the top of the rotation. That was the year after I’d graduated high school, and had gotten drafted, but then decided to go to college — and it was right around the age where I was really trying to figure out if baseball was something that I could turn into a career. And I just remember loving to watch that Yankees team, as they made their run that year, and being so impressed by them, and I guess kind of pumped up about baseball by them — just getting very caught up in it.
And so it’s pretty cool to look back on that time — and now think about how, eight years later, I got traded to the Yankees in the middle of a pennant race.”
Gray has the opportunity to possibly pitch in a pennant race, just like the 2009 Yankees did a few seasons ago. The 27-year-old will have the opportunity to help lead the Yankees back to the World Series.
Normally a quiet person, Gray wanted to introduce himself a bit to the Yankees fans. Prior to his journey with the team, he wants Yankees fans to know one thing about him:
“I’m a competitor. I love to compete. And when I get on the mound, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to compete, and I’m going to come at guys. I’m going to challenge guys, straight-up — with my best stuff against their best stuff. And sometimes it’s going to work out, and sometimes it isn’t. But I think that’s just how my mentality is, especially being on the smaller side. It’s just how I was raised to play. And I think that’s what you can expect me to bring to New York. Both on my good and on my bad days — I’m going to compete all the same.”
In regards to his new team, Gray is excited about the roster the Yankees have in place. The team has welcomed him with open arms, and he describes them as a “tough, tough group.”
Gray’s family is also fully onboard with the trade, including Gunnar. Jessica, Sonny’s wife, already purchased Gunnar a Yankees hat, so him and his father can match as they play the sport they love at home.
And as for Sonny Gray, it appears he couldn’t be happier with his new opportunity with the Yankees.
To read the entire Players’ Tribune post, click here