by PETE JANNY, Asst. Sports Editor
Current New York Yankees Manager and former MLB player Aaron Boone visited campus last Friday to give a talk centered on the importance of leadership and how his career experiences have helped shape his leadership abilities.
The event was coordinated by Student Engagement as part of the organization’s Lecture Series which has previously featured other celebrities such as current Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez.
Students, Alumni, and administration packed the Great Room of Kelly Commons to experience this unique opportunity to meet a man well-known and highly respected in baseball circles. Prior to Boone’s arrival, all attendees enjoyed a buffet-style lunch in anticipation for the main event.
After Boone delivered remarks in a sit-down Q&A format, the floor opened up to all attendees who wanted to pick the brain of the Yankees boss. Immediately following the discussion phase of the event, Boone posed for photos with each attendee. The event wrapped up after an hour of enthralling discussion and fellowship. Although time flew by, there was a lot to learn from Boone’s breadth of experience.
Among those in attendance were members of Manhattan’s baseball and softball teams who looked to absorb all the advice they could get from a man whose upbringing mirrors their own experiences. With their seasons quickly approaching, both teams derived profound inspiration from the special experience.
Manhattan baseball head coach Mike Cole was appreciative of this rare opportunity for his team to converse with a man of Boone’s ilk.
“I thought it was a great experience for our guys to meet someone in professional baseball,” said Cole. “Being manager of the Yankees is probably one of the top five jobs in professional coaching.”
The discussion oscillated between a number of different topics that Boone is well-versed in. With a good percentage of the attendees being avid supporters of the “Bronx Bombers,” the chatter often shifted to the current state of the Yankees and the team’s plans for this upcoming season. In an offseason that has seen the Yankees add James Paxton, Troy Tulowitzki, DJ Lemahieu, and Adam Ottavino, there was plenty to talk about regarding the team’s offseason strategy.
Despite the team dishing out substantial money on the market, the elephant in the room was the stagnant market for bona fide superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Although not completely ruling out New York’s chances of landing one of the two stars, Boone remained lukewarm on the subject and divulged that he expects the team to ride with their current roster composition heading into the 2019 season.
Many Yankees fans know very well this isn’t Boone’s first rodeo in the Bronx. Smack dab in the middle of his 12 year Major League playing career, Boone arrived in the Bronx via a midseason trade with the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 to help fortify the team’s championship pursuit.
Boone’s first Yankees stint may have been short lived, but he cemented his Yankees legacy with one swing of the bat on a chilly October night at Yankee Stadium in 2003. Tied at 5-5 in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series vs. the Boston Red Sox, Boone stepped up to the plate and drilled a ball into the left field seats off of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to catapult the Yankees to the World Series in walk-off fashion.
Although the Yankees would go on to lose to the Florida Marlins in the 2003 World Series, the clutch homer against Wakeman is widely regarded as one of the biggest plays in Yankees history. Now 16 years removed from that career-altering homer, Boone reminisced about the experience and the emotions he felt while rounding the bases. In addition to playing in Cincinnati and New York, Boone had short tenures with the Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals, and Houston Astros.
On February 23rd, 2010, Boone announced his retirement and soon after transitioned into broadcasting for ESPN. Employed by ESPN from 2010 to 2017, Boone worked for the company as a game analyst and color commentator for the Sunday Night Baseball telecast, while also making regular appearances on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.
In December 2017, Boone left ESPN to become the 33rd manager in the history of the New York Yankees. Not only was Boone set to become the manager of the most storied franchise in sports in the ultimate pressure cooker that is New York City, but the then 44-year-old Boone had never previously managed a game on any level of professional baseball.
Boone talked about the challenges that he encountered since his hiring and how his experience as a broadcaster gave him the confidence to assume the managerial duties for the Yankees. Cole believes the Yankees hiring of Boone has set the precedent for the direction baseball is heading in.
“He’s one of the few guys that has gone from the booth to managing,” said Cole. “It kind of shows how the game is changing a bit where you don’t need years of previous experience to be a manager in the big leagues.”
Boone talked about the organizational dynamic of the New York Yankees and how he tries to coexist and maintain a positive partnership with the members at the head of the organization, revealing what it’s like working with Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and principal owner Hal Steinbrenner.
Boone expressed gratitude for being in the position he’s in today and has a profound appreciation for every task and responsibility that comes with being manager of the New York Yankees. After compiling an impressive 100-62 record and securing a wild card berth in his first year at the helm, Boone is motivated to do everything he can to help the Yankees ascend to new heights in 2019.
“The biggest thing he talked about is culture,” said Cole. “There’s that winning culture and confidence in the clubhouse at Yankee Stadium where they always expect to win.”
In his second year at the helm for the Jaspers, Cole is looking to brew a similar culture.“I want to bring back that winning mentality and confidence level to help our guys win.”