Pinch Hitter Adam Holley is a 26-year-old currently living in St. Augustine, Fla., but originally from Staten Island, where he lived until two and a half years ago. “I’m pretty sure my father taught me to choose the Yankees over the Mets right around the time he taught me not to walk into oncoming traffic,” he wrote. “I’m pretty sure he thought the two mistakes went hand in hand, turns out he was right.”
Adam would like to get into professional writing and has a blog called, For The Love Of New York. He started it last year — “really using it for practice back then” — and said he’s looking forward to doing more work with it this season.
For his guest post, Adam wrote an impassioned case for Nick Swisher’s place in Yankees history. And, as a treat for Sam and I, he threw in a rather obscure West Wing reference at the end.
The Importance of Being Swisher
I strongly believe Nick Swisher has a chance to become one, and I don’t want us to miss out.
What makes one a Yankee Great? Every team has a most memorable moment. For the Giants, it would be Bobby Thompson and “The Giants Win The Pennant.” For the Red Sox, rather hilariously, this moment still remains in the glove (or rather under the glove) of Mr. Bill Buckner. While one of these moments is of triumph, the other of regret, they are the most historic plays of their respective franchises.
If you had to pick the most significant moment for the rest of the league, 29 times out of 30, you’d end up with big plays as well. Then you reach the Yankees. If you were to pick a scene most identifying of the Yankees as a whole, I’m picking one of three moments:
1. Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech.
2. Mantle and Maris, side by side, bats up against their shoulders.
3. The Boss looking sternly down at the field from the suite.
Not one of these is a play during the game. Why? Because the Yankees are so good, their history is so rich, they have become so much more as a team that they nearly transcend the game itself. Yankee history is not written by what Yankee greats do. It’s who they are.
Nick Swisher doesn’t play for himself. He plays for us. Has anyone reading this ever accused him of having a lack of effort? When he plays, when he is interviewed, when he partakes in events, you can see it in his face: When he arrived in New York, he realized things were different and so, he sat down and made a decision to take the opportunity to make this so much more. He let New York into his heart, and decided to make himself wholly a Yankee.
More impressively, he succeeded.
Swisher gets it, and it isn’t something easy to get. He let us — this city, this team and this history — into his heart, and he changed himself as a player, not for numbers, not for glory, but because he felt he needed to do more for a team that deserved more. “I’m going to be a part of this, and put every bit of effort into it getting the best from me.” The guys whose faces and actions read this way, they are the special ones.
These facts all translate into one thing: Nick Swisher understands what it means to be a true Yankee. He came to this town, this team, and recognized that things here are just different. He wrapped himself so completely in Yankee pride, it motivated him to make changes, to become a better player, simply because Yankee tradition demanded it.
I hear so much these days that the Yankees will never be the same when the Core Four are gone, but this can’t be true. Did we feel the Yankees would never be the same after DiMaggio? Reggie Jackson? Mattingly? Maybe, but each time we learned that Yankee greats give birth to new greats. Passing the baton is part of what keeps the Yankee tradition alive. It’s a Yankee great’s job to teach those who follow what it means to be a true Yankee. It’s our job, as fans, to accept those who follow.
The outside view of the Yankees is skewed. People see the team, see the payroll, and think the Yankees are only out to buy championships. They lure big-money players with huge-money contracts, then lay them by the wayside when they’re through. When Yankee history is truly known, the opposite is actually true. We have a habit of keeping the special ones, the “true Yankees,” right where they belong.
Nick Swisher has the ability, has the tools – in both his bat and his heart — to forever take his place in the Yankee saga, and losing him and therefore taking that chance from him, would make my blue-bleeding heart pour red.
As I look out over this magnificent vista of Yankee future I hope, I plead, and maybe most importantly, I trust the Yankees to see Mr. Swisher forever in pinstripes so he can do us all proud. He’s earned it, and really… don’t you think we’ve earned him?
Associated Press photos