June 28, 2013
On the weekend of June 21-24, Alabama assistant baseball coach Andy Phillips returned to New York to participate in the New York Yankees Old-Timers' Day. During the weekend, coach Phillips, who played for the Yankees from 2004-06, was able to meet former Yankee greats, talk with past teammates, participate in the Old-Timers' Game and participate in a charity softball game.
The weekend began on Friday night with the former Yankee players gathered at Lavo for dinner. The former players than took a yacht cruise on Saturday night to view the city of New York from the water. The Old Timers' Game took place on Sunday morning and was followed by the current day Yankees playing the Tampa Bay Ray in the afternoon.
The weekend for Phillips finished on Monday when Yankee Stadium played host to Boomer Esiason's third annual "Bombers Boomer Broadway Softball Classic," a charity softball game to benefit the Boomer Esiason Foundation Fighting Cystic Fibrosis ant eh Actors Fund. Additionally, the game also played host to a cast of Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team members, in addition to Broadway actors, former Yankee players and other celebrities.
Following the weekend, the Alabama Athletics Communications office had a chance to talk with coach Phillips about his memories from the weekend in New York.
What made you decide to go back and participate in the weekend
"The last year in New York was difficult, from the sense that one year my wife was sick and my mom was in a bad car wreck. So to go back and create some good memories, and take my daughter back and see me playing and bring my family back was important to me from a personal perspective to go back. When I was a player, the Old-Timers' Day was one of the neatest days for me. To see the former players from Yogi Berra to "Goose" Gossage come back was always a thrill to me. So when I got the invite, it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."
How was the experience different this time as an "Old-Timer" compared to being a player?
"There was a lot less pressure. When you look at the whole weekend, going to mingle with some of the guys you played with, especially the ones that are still playing, You can also be around some of the players that played years before me. They may have come around in spring training, and you got to know them but you never played with. To hear some of the stories, and for that weekend, relive what it was like to be a player, was a huge experience. One of the neatest things about the weekend is to hear the guys tell stories about their time as a play. To hear Mickey Rivers tell stories about playing in his days were special. When you see guys from my age to Yogi Berra (88), it shows a wide range of history in the Yankees organization."
How did it feel to be on the same field with so many legendary players?
"The biggest thing is you leave with a great appreciation of what I was able to be part of. One, I was with the Yankee organization and the history it has, but when you go out there for that day, and you put the uniform on with Yogi Berra, with Bernie Williams, with Rickey Henderson, and with Bobby Richardson, you feel like you're part of the team again. Being part of that rekindled the appreciation for what I was able to do as a player.
On the lineup for the Old-Timers' Game
"I was hitting fourth with Bernie Williams hitting fifth and Paul O'Neal batting third. I don't know what Gene Michael was thinking putting me in the four-hole with the guys that were there, but I certainly had a lot of protection.
On the Old-Timers game experience
"The game was really neat. It was really laid back. We played five or six innings, I got two at-bats and I played right field. Just to see Bucky Dent field a ground ball or see Paul O'Neal hit one off the wall and see Lou Paniella take an at-bat was pretty neat. For me personally, my goals were to not get hurt or embarrass myself, and I think I was able to accomplish both, and to have fun. I got a flare off David Wells for a base hit and I hit into a double play. It wasn't all bad but it wasn't all good either.
Thoughts on charity softball game
"Being able to play with some of the guys from the Wounded Warriors that was very special. One of the highlights of my playing career was being able to go to Walter Reed's and visit some of our injured veterans and spend time with them. That experience is life changing. To go out there and see these guys and hear what they've been through and to be able to play and be on a team with them, it really touches your heart. To do that and team up with a great cause like the Boomer Esiason Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis and raise money for a great cause, that was a huge highlight for the weekend.
Most memorial experience of the weekend
"The one thing that I will remember is having my name called out on the field and looking down both baselines and seeing the history of the game and the great players you're lined up with. Looking around that stadium with 50,000 people there and celebrating the history of the organization. To get your name called, run around those bases again, and look around and see all the guys your teammates with for a day is something I will never forget.
Thoughts On being 36 years old and playing in the Old-Timers Game
"I appreciate what the guys that are still playing are doing. What Derek, Andy and Mariano are doing at 39 to 42 years old, makes you appreciate the ability they have to continue to play the game. Bobby Richardson was a big reason I went back. He told me he went back at 31 years old and I felt like at 36 I was way past where he was. When my career was done as a play, I was finished. Whether its 36 or 46, going back to a place where I played for a while was too good for me to pass up."
Would you go back again for the Old-Timers' Day
"They would not have to twist my arm to get me to come back again, I can promise you that. For my family to be part of the weekend, and the Yankees are such an outstanding organization and they do everything first class. The way they treat you and the loyalty they show to their former players is pretty special. There is no question I would do it again."