NEW YORK -- A few minutes after he was introduced as a member of the Yankees on Wednesday, right-hander Gerrit Cole didn’t waste time in thanking God and his family for the support they gave him over the years.
“He is always thinking about those close to him,” said his agent, Scott Boras, who was on hand for Cole’s introduction. “It’s really rare to see someone spend so much time thinking about others.”
Of the family members who attended the press conference, perhaps most important was Cole’s wife of three years, Amy. Since their college days at UCLA, Amy knew that Gerrit was a die-hard Yankees fan, having followed his father’s footsteps as a kid. His father, Mark, hails from Syracuse, N.Y., and was a big fan of Willie Randolph and Mickey Rivers, two popular Yankees players in the 1970s.
Gerrit was 11 years old when he went to Game 6 of the 2001 World Series between the Yankees and D-backs in Arizona. His hero, left-hander Andy Pettitte, pitched that day and lost. There is a photo of Cole from that game that went viral recently, showing the young Cole carrying a sign that said, “Yankee Fan Today Tomorrow Forever.” Cole brought the same sign to Wednesday's press conference.
“He has had the sign at his parents’ house ever since that that day,” Amy said. “It was fun when he brought the sign back. It has faded completely. Now, it’s a dream come true. … It’s where he always wanted to be.”
The Coles met Pettitte during negotiations with the Yankees. Amy acknowledged that she and Gerrit were nervous when they first met Pettitte, who laid out the advantages of playing in New York, the first being a chance to win a World Series championship, a primary consideration for Gerrit.
“Andy was simply remarkable [with the Coles],” Boras said. “He threw a nine-inning shutout during that meeting. He was really something.”
After he agreed to terms with the Yankees, Cole arrived in New York earlier this week and wore a Yankees cap for three consecutive days. On Wednesday morning, Cole shaved his beloved beard to adhere to the Yankees' policy that players are clean-shaven.
“He waited as long as he possibly could [to shave],” Amy said.
In addition to being a stellar pitcher, Amy said Gerrit is an “incredible” chef. She couldn’t decide on her favorite dish but said he prepares everything from seafood to steak to Italian. When Gerrit’s baseball career is over, Amy said she could see him make a living as a chef.
“We’ll get to know some great chefs in the city,” Amy said.