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Yankees legend honored on Andy Pettitte Day

No. 46 retired as lefty gets plaque in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park

NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte heard the fans chanting his name, just like old times. They wore his jersey, greeted him with signs and let out a booming roar when he took the podium after he saw his name revealed on a Monument Park plaque on Sunday.

Pettitte was nervous. The former Yankees lefty never liked attention. But on a day named in his honor, it was unavoidable. So, after his No. 46 jersey was retired and he made his way to the microphone, Pettitte did the most natural thing he could think of.

He told a story.

"Wow, thank y'all so much," Pettitte started. "You know, 20 years ago, I sat in the old Yankee Stadium bullpen. We were playing the Texas Rangers and it was a beautiful day.

"I had made the team out of Spring Training as a left-handed reliever and I sat there, looked around, and said, 'Wow. This is absolutely amazing.' A dream of mine as a child had come true."

Twenty years later, Pettitte lived another dream, when he saw the plaque and took in what it means to go down in Yankees history forever. Before the ceremony began, he took a moment for personal reflection.

Video: [email protected]: Pettitte on having number retired by Yankees

"I was talking with my kids out there -- 100 years from now, I'm going to be dead and gone and people are going to be walking out there and seeing this," Pettitte said. "This is crazy."

Pettitte spent 15 seasons with the Yankees, leaving the game as the franchise's all-time leader in strikeouts with 2,020. He was a three-time American League All-Star and is the only pitcher ever drafted by the Yankees to win 200 games.

Pettitte emphasized that he wasn't a power pitcher. Velocity wasn't his strong suit and at times, he felt like he had to grind out games. But his focus was always there, and his postseason runs are memories Yankees fans will likely remember for years to come.

"I just don't remember ever going out there and feeling like, 'I'm going to step on this mound and I'm going to absolutely dominate this team because I am so good,"' Pettitte said. "I needed every ounce of focus, every ounce of energy I felt like every start to be able to be successful."

Pettitte was joined in celebration by Reggie Jackson, Mariano Rivera, Hideki Matsui, Derek Jeter, Joe Torre and many more Yankees legends. Jorge Posada, who was honored Saturday, was also there in what was a special weekend for the duo, and Pettitte threw out the first pitch to his former batterymate.

Video: [email protected]: Pettitte tosses first pitch to Posada

But most importantly, Pettitte's family was there. The memories came rushing back.

"My family, we're just sitting here and they feel like this is home, really," Pettitte said Saturday. "We've been here so long. [My son], Josh, I'm sitting here saying he's about to be 21 -- 1995, that was 20 years ago. He learned how to ride his bike here.

"There's just so many memories. They feel like this is as much as home as Houston is. It's just wonderful."

Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for
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