Saturday, June 24, 2023

Boone Reflects On Yankees Being First To Play In London & Field of Dreams Games

Yankee Stadium. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs will be playing in London this weekend, the first time Major League Baseball has played games across the pond since the Yankees took on the Boston Red Sox in 2019.

In the first-ever London Series, the Yankees won both of them, 17-13 on June 29, 2019, and 12-8 the next day at London Stadium, which was the site of the 2012 Olympics and is the home of West Ham United of the English Premier League.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone was asked what he remembers about the Yankees’ games in London, and he said, “It was my first time in London, so that in itself was pretty cool.

“We loved it; I felt like our entire team loved it. I remember it well. I remember, two days before the day game, I think we had a day game here, and I’m walking through the clubhouse and just seeing guys pack for it and talking about it, and there was just this sense in our clubhouse. I felt, that we were really excited to go do this and I think that stemmed a lot from CC (Sabathia). You know, obviously being one of the leaders of our team and one of the big voices, he was very vocal and excited about it, even in the offseason, leading up to the season, and I think, you know, you have to talk to all the guys on the team that year, in our group, but I felt like we were really excited, it was great.

“You know, getting to walk with my family and (Red Sox Manager) Alex Cora to Buckingham Palace, you know, one of the clinics we did, you know, getting to eat dinner and see the London skyline - traffic kind of sucked.” When informed that’s like New York’s traffic, Boone replied, “Not at that level, London, that’s a different one, but we loved it.

“We had a great time, I felt like they completely rolled out the red carpet for us. You know, it felt like the Super Bowl, you know, we’re going out to introductions with the fire and the smoke going. The venue was great, the weather was great, you know, the fan bases really, really enjoyed it. It was fun to be a part of.”

Major League Baseball announced this week that the Field of Dreams game will return in 2024, with the St. Louis Cardinals taking on the San Francisco Giants at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. The oldest professional ballpark in America, Rickwood Field was the former home of the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues and its greatest living player, Willie Mays, who went on to play for the New York/San Francisco Giants.

As with the London Series, the Yankees played in the first-ever Field of Dreams game at the setting of the 1989 movie in Iowa two summers ago, on August 12, 2021, in which they lost, to the the Chicago White Sox, 9-8. The Yankees were trailing 7-4 entering the ninth inning when Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton each had two-run dingers to put the Yankees up 8-7 before Tim Anderson hit a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth.

Boone was also asked on Friday afternoon about his memories of the Field of Dreams game, and he said, “I would say equally as cool, maybe even more so because it was the Field of Dreams. What a magical night, you know, we end up losing the game on a walk-off, back and forth, kind of an awesome game. As perfect a setting as I could imagine for playing a game. In fact, I remember in the middle of that game, turning to Mendy (Bench Coach Carlos Mendoza) and saying, ‘take a second and just drink this in right now. The sky was perfect, it was a perfect weather day, the sight lines were unbelievable.

“I feel like they got every detail right. You know, even getting off the plane and riding through the cornfields to the - you know, people on the side of the road greeting us on the way to the stadium. It was a really, really great event, and one of those I talk about a lot, you know, a 162-game season, there’s different little moments in the season or series or games that give you a little extra shot in the arm, and that was one of those, it was really special.”

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