New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner learned how to be a Yankee from Derek Jeter and is now teaching Jeter’s lessons to the current youth.
Along with Marcus Thames, Gardner gave Judge pointers on how to get the most of an at-bat. Gardner’s advice immediately paid off; Judge hit a towering ball that ended up bouncing off the scoreboard.
Judge wasn’t the only Yankee that had been vying for Gardner’s attention this Spring. Most of the Yankees kids wanted to pick the speedster’s brain while he simultaneously gets ready for the season.
But believe it or not, Gardner was once in the boat of Aaron Judge and company.
In 2008, Gardner was a rookie wandering through the clubhouse, as nervous as a rookie could be when they come up from the major leagues, but he was taken under the wing of captain Derek Jeter, where Gardner learned the ins and outs of being a great Yankee.
Yes, he had to perform on the field, but he also had to lead by example in the clubhouse. He had to say the right things, and he had to do the right things. Gardner had to be someone the Yankees could proudly show off, and he had to be someone the kids wanted to emulate.
Gardner was treated with care and respect while under the watchful eye of Jeter but now that Jeter’s gone, Gardner decided to take it upon himself to be that role model for the kids entering camp. Just like Jeter made Gardner comfortable during his time, it was Gardner’s job to do the same.
“One of the things Derek always told me and you’d always see him do with the young guys,” Gardner told the New York Post on Saturday afternoon. “He said, ‘You got to make the young guys feel comfortable. You got to make them feel like they belong because when they are comfortable, they play better. And when they play better, the team wins.’ ”
Of course, Jeter was right. When the players are relaxed, they play better, which leads to more wins. No one wants to be in an uptight clubhouse where they aren’t allowed to have fun. The team wouldn’t be able to co-exist that way.
So it was up to Derek Jeter to relax the new kids that came his way. One of those kids just happened to be Brett Gardner. Now, Gardner is continuing Jeter’s tradition by loosening up the kids at camp.
While the Yankees have yet to name a captain in Jeter’s absence, Gardner has seemed to have taken on the unofficial role. He’s a vocal presence in the clubhouse, he’s good for media quotes, he’s approachable with the kids and when it’s game time, he gives 110 percent.
You know the saying “treat others the way you want to be treated”? Well, it goes a long way in Major League Baseball, and hopefully one day, one of the kids Gardner mentors will treat the next batch of New York Yankees the way Gardner treated them.