Aaron Boone makes return to Yankees
NEW YORK — Aaron Boone was pulling into the driveway of his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, last Thursday, bringing 8-year-old daughter Bella home from school so his wife could drive her to a dance lesson, and he noticed a missed call from Brian Cashman.
Boone called back the New York Yankees general manager as his wife looked on, and said Cashman told him: “Hey, just first and foremost, I want to make sure you're completely on board and understanding the commitment level that is now expected of you.”
“If that's the case,” Boone recalled Cashman saying, “I'm going to recommend to ownership that you're the guy we move forward and focus on.”
And with that, at age 44 Boone had secured his first manager or coaching job of any kind since his retirement as a player eight years ago.
Boone was introduced Wednesday as New York's manager during a news conference at Yankee Stadium, where televisions throughout the ballpark showed images of him rounding the bases in triumph after his 11th-inning home run off Boston's Tim Wakefield won Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series for the Yankees.
“It's certainly something that I'm known for in my baseball life, obviously, and in some way probably is a contributor to me being here today,” he said.
Among six candidates for the job, Boone so impressed Cashman and his staff that no second round of interviews was needed.
“The interview process is to try to determine how Aaron ticks and if he is an extension of our philosophies or pretty close to an extension of our philosophies and what kind of decision-making process he would gravitate to,” Cashman said. “That doesn't mean there won't be some growing pains on the beginning end, and we're OK with that.”
Cashman recommended Boone after consulting with a smorgasbord of his modern-day front office.
“There was a difference of opinion among the participants as to who their Number Two or Three choice was, but there was little to no difference of opinion as to who their Number One choice was,” Steinbrenner said. “It wasn't even close.”
Cashman thought back to when he was assistant GM, and owner George Steinbrenner promoted him to succeed Bob Watson as GM.
“He took a chance on me back in 1998, and here I am 20 years later,” Cashman said.
Boone became the first manager hired by the Yankees since they moved into their new ballpark in 2009 and since George Steinbrenner died the following year.
Hal Steinbrenner, son of The Boss, spoke briefly with Boone outside Donohue's office when Boone interviewed Nov. 17. Steinbrenner originally had said he and his siblings would meet with candidates who reached a second round.
“When I get that kind of recommendation from my top people, I just didn't see the need,” he said.
Boone had worked for ESPN since retiring as a player. He acknowledged one of his first tasks will be to convince his players he can do the job.
“I think in short order I'll be able to earn that respect, that they'll be able to look at me, trust in me, know that I have their interest at heart, but know that hopefully I know what the heck I'm talking about,” he said. “That's something that you have to earn over the initial days in spring training, in the season.”