📌 Join the BPCrew Chapter in your city and meet up with more Yankees fans! 👉 CLICK HERE
TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Joe Girardi, Manager of the New York Yankees speaks after Derek Jeter spoke at a media availability after announcing that the 2014 season will be his last before retiring at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 19, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Yankees beat writer for a day

Now, this is a story about how my life got flipped-turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there and I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air….oh, wait a minute, that wasn’t me. I know, just sit right there and I’ll tell you what it was like to be a beat writer for a day. At Yankee Stadium. In the Yankees’ clubhouse. In the Yankees’ dugout. In a Major League press box. Yeah, now I’ve got the right story.

In September, 2010, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. I was working part-time for an online magazine/website that had a large print presence.  Unfortunately, the online portion no longer exists, but the print magazine lives on as it has for decades. The job included the opportunity to obtain an occasional press pass for a Major League park, such as Yankee Stadium.

I was a nervous wreck just thinking about it. I had an all-access pass for pre and post-game interviews in the clubhouse, to sit in on manager Joe Girardi’s press conferences, and on-field access during batting practice/workouts. Suddenly, instead of just watching Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mariano Rivera, I could be standing in the same clubhouse as them.

Like a Major League player who begins their careers in the Minors, I thought it was best to cover a Minor League game as a warm up. So off to Trenton I went to catch Dellin Betances‘ Double-A debut against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.  I made sure to get to the park early in order to set up everything I needed, this included an audio recorder, pads, pens, and my laptop.

I thought of questions ahead of time to avoid a Bryce Harper-like “That’s a clown question, bro” response from the players.  I was fortunate to get some insight from veteran reporters Jessica Quirolli, Mike Ashmore and Josh Norris. It also helped that then-Trenton manager Tony Franklin was extremely gracious during post-game interviews.

A few weeks later, it was on to the big time at Yankee Stadium. With the game set for 7:05 p.m. that evening, I got there at 3:45 p.m. to give myself plenty of time before Girardi’s pre-game presser. I felt eerily calm. After I picked up my press pass, I headed into the elevator and up to the press box. The Yankee Stadium press box is huge, which comes as no surprise since there are so many members of the media covering the team. At some point, then-Yankees/now-Mets beat writer, Marc Carig must have seen the mix of excitement and bewilderment in my eyes and offered me some tips. He did this later as well, and I am still very grateful for his help.


A short time later, it was back down the elevator to Girardi’s presser. The beat writers from the top New York and New Jersey papers, then-YES Network reporter Kim Jones, and WFAN’s Sweeny Murti got the prime seat locations. Meredith Marakovits was there too, on assignment for ESPN. Prior to finding a chair, most members of the media dropped their recording devices on the table in front of Girardi. Public Relations head Jason Zillo orchestrated the proceedings by selecting which of the attendees would ask questions. Microphones were passed around the room so that Girardi and the other reporters could hear the questions clearly and so that questions were not repeated.  (Questions are often inadvertently, or purposely, repeated anyway.) Reliever Jonathan Albaladejo had just been recalled from the minors, so I asked what role Girardi saw him filling. His answer was something like, “We’ll see how things shake out to determine when to use him.”

Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez were major topics of the day since both were working their way back from injuries suffered the prior two months.  Pitching coach Dave Eiland observed Pettitte throwing in the bullpen prior to the game, and then met reporters in the area between the clubhouse and the entry to the field. Pettitte later addressed the media in the clubhouse. A-Rod had gone on the DL in August due to a calf injury. He worked out in the batting cage near where Eiland had spoken and later met reporters to discuss his progress. (He was activated four days later, while Pettitte had to wait another two weeks.) It’s during these close-up interviews when you really see how muscled some of these athletes are. A-Rod is listed as 6’3″, but seems much taller in person and he has huge legs and a massive chest and arms.

Soon the clubhouse opened and the players slowly filed in, but not all of them. Some remained in the unseen trainers’ room, work out areas, etc., ostensibly to get mentally prepared and/or to avoid the media. For example, there was no Mariano Rivera clubhouse sighting before or after the game. That Oh, wow!” moment hit me when I was partially blocking the entrance to the clubhouse and Derek Jeter said, “Excuse me,” as he walked past me.

One thing for certain, you don’t sit still in the time leading up to the game.  There is a constant stream of media going back and forth between the field and the clubhouse. Mark Teixeira is now in the locker room? Go. Jeter is taking batting practice? Go. I got a chance to speak briefly with Teixeira, Marcus Thames, and Curtis Granderson. Teixeira was nice as pie. At the time he was playing with a bruised toe and an injured thumb. When queried, he had a big grin and downplayed the injuries. (Later in the season, we found out that his foot problem was much more serious then he had let on.)

Granderson too, was a great guy to talk to. He’s upbeat, and you can tell it’s for real, not an act. We talked about Kim Jones’ interview with his parents in Chicago and he confirmed how important education was to them and, in turn, to him. Granderson has already been a great ambassador for baseball (e.g. a promotional trip he took to New Zealand). I can see him being the head of the player’s union one day or even baseball commissioner.

As for Thames, who was in the midst of a home run streak, one or two-word answers were the best I could get out of him. He definitely had the look and body language of someone who wanted to say, “Get away from me.” But he was more polite.

While the Yankees worked out on the field, a line formed next to the dugout and wrapped around the wall behind home plate. This was a meet and greet for fans, some of whom were possibly season ticket holders. In between working out, several players made their way over to the fans to say hello and sign autographs. Nick Swisher and Jeter took pictures with a young wheelchair-bound boy whose smile said it all. Soon the clubhouse was closed, which meant it was time to head back up to the press box, but not before grabbing a bunch of food and caffeine in the nearby cafeteria.


I already knew the first rule of the press box – and it is more important than the first rule of “Fight Club” – there is absolutely NO cheering/rooting (for or against) in the press box. If you violate the rule you will never be back again. I found a non-reserved seat next to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, who was covering the Athletics that day. She quickly and kindly helped me to find the wireless login information to connect to the internet. People milled about prior to the start of the game. Suzyn Waldman sat with friends. Michael Kay took a stroll in the hallway and John Sterling stopped by the press box to visit with an old friend.  If you love baseball and people-watching, it’s a great place to be.

Before I knew it, the game was over. The Yankees won 4-3, with a save from the previously-unseen Rivera. While I waited for the post-game news conferences and interviews, I continued to prepare my columns on the game. After about 20 minutes or so, the clubhouse opened up and Girardi was ready for his post-game presser, which is run in the same manner as the pre-game “meet the press”. Those media outlets with more than one person on-hand split their personnel between Girardi’s news conference and the clubhouse. I found that out the hard way when starter A.J. Burnett was surrounded by a sea of people in the clubhouse, making it virtually impossible to ask him any questions. (The win was a big one for Burnett, who had recorded no victories in August.) In cases like this, I quickly learned to just reach in past the bodies with my recorder and record whatever is said. I used the same process with Jeter, Teixeira and others…lather, rinse, repeat.

Afterwards, it was back up to the press box to finish and file my columns and head on home.