On May 13, 1980, Yankees catcher Rick Cerone appeared on the cover of Yankees Magazine alongside the headline “Big Shoes To Fill.” And while that certainly may have been true for Thurman Munson’s successor, there was no precedent whatsoever for the publication itself.
The 28-page premiere edition of Yankees Magazine was more of a newspaper, and no one was quite sure how it would catch on.
“When I found out I was on the cover of Yankees Magazine I really didn’t appreciate it that much because we didn’t know if there was even going to be a second issue,” Cerone told the magazine in 2010 for its 30th anniversary. “But over time it evolved from a newspaper into a magazine, so it’s a big deal to me today.”
Yankees Magazine has indeed evolved, especially over the last decade. Since celebrating its last milestone anniversary, the publication -- which also serves as the Yankees’ official gameday program -- has gone further and deeper than ever before, delving into the lives of the team’s current and former players, capturing unique and iconic images at Yankee Stadium and beyond, and providing readers with unmatched coverage of their beloved Yankees. Here, its four longest-tenured editors -- senior director of publications Alfred Santasiere III, chief photographer/senior photography editor Ariele Goldman Hecht, executive editor Nathan Maciborski and deputy editor Jon Schwartz -- chronicle what it has been like to take Yankees Magazine to the next level, creating some big shoes to fill for their eventual successors.
Legends on Location
by Alfred Santasiere III
When I look back on what we’ve been able to do over the last decade, I think about the uniqueness of the stories we’ve published. Specifically, I’m proud that Yankees Magazine has elevated its coverage to consistently put out stories that show the greatest players in team history in a light in which they’ve never been seen before. Our features have taken readers deep into the lives of pinstriped heroes, and in some cases, we’ve even brought our legendary players to meet their own sports idols and to landmark destinations.
Derek Jeter is the most iconic athlete I’ve been around in my 17-plus seasons with the Yankees, and I’ve been fortunate to author several stories on him. In 2011, I spent a few hours with the Captain in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Mich., for a feature on the dedication of his high school baseball field. On this rare trip back to the sleepy town where he grew up, Jeter spent a few minutes with me and our team photographer out on the diamond where he first played the sport as a child. Long before Jeter starred at Kalamazoo Central High School, the Jeter family --who lived in a house across the street from the baseball field -- would spend time on that very diamond. As we made our way out to the area where Jeter fielded his first grounders, he pointed toward his childhood home beyond left field. From there, he would sneak through the fence and onto the field that would ultimately be named after him.
That was a great experience, but it wasn’t my favorite memory of covering Jeter. During his final season in 2014, the Yankees took on the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, and I was able to set up an interview with two of the greatest shortstops of all time. Sitting between Jeter and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks with Wrigley’s ivy-covered wall as the backdrop was an unimaginable thrill.
In 2011, I spent a day with Alex Rodriguez in his hometown of Miami for a longform feature in Yankees Magazine. After shadowing A-Rod during an intense workout at the University of Miami, the third baseman brought me along on a visit to the field where he played baseball for the first time. Today, that diamond bears the name Alex Rodriguez 40/40 Field.
Four years later, I returned to Miami to interview Rodriguez and his childhood sports hero -- who also happens to be my all-time favorite athlete -- Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, for a special Q&A feature. The conversation at the 50-yard line of the Dolphins’ stadium was special, but it didn’t compare to tossing a football around with the two legendary No. 13s. As exciting as the experience was for me, I think A-Rod may have enjoyed it even more.
During Mariano Rivera’s final season of 2013, I convinced him to sit down with Orioles icon Cal Ripken Jr. in Baltimore to discuss their respective swan songs. Having worked in the Orioles’ public relations department during Ripken’s last season more than a decade earlier, I felt that I was uniquely qualified to interview the shortstop and the closer together. Based on the candid answers I got from these thoughtful and eloquent legends, I felt like my confidence was validated.
Covering Yankees players where they spent their earliest days has given Yankees Magazine readers exclusive content over the last decade, and I’ve enjoyed contributing to that effort. For two of those special features, I traveled to Puerto Rico -- first in 2014 with Bernie Williams and then a year later with Jorge Posada. Williams brought me to several landmarks from his childhood, including the field where a Yankees scout once showed up to watch future major league star Juan González, but left with the intent of signing the teenager who would become one of the great center fielders in Yankees history.
The time with Posada was highlighted by an afternoon at his childhood home with the former catcher and his parents. There, in the same backyard where Posada learned to play baseball as a child, he and his parents reminisced for hours while we all feasted on some of the family’s favorite recipes, including “Shrimp Posada.”
Of the many hometown stories I have put together, none was as meaningful as the one I wrote on New York’s own Joe Torre. The 2012 day in Brooklyn with the Hall of Fame manager began at the house on Avenue T where Torre was raised, and where two of his sisters lived at the time. During an emotional conversation in the living room, Torre relived some of the happiest times of his childhood, along with the most troubling events, namely growing up with an abusive father. As we walked from the house to the baseball field where Torre’s older brothers taught him the game of baseball, the nine-time All-Star catcher discussed how the sport served as a refuge from his difficult home life and how it gave him the self-confidence he so badly needed.
Before we left the borough that day, Torre, Yankees team photographer James Petrozzello and I walked out to the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, and there, the manager posed for what I believe is one of this publication’s most special photos.
Fenway Park is a destination I never thought I’d find myself visiting with Bucky Dent. It was in the historic Boston ballpark that Dent authored one of the most famous moments in baseball history -- his seventh-inning home run in the 1978 one-game tiebreaker between the Yankees and the Red Sox. The Yankees went on to win the game and the World Series that season, with Dent taking home MVP honors in the Fall Classic. The shortstop, who had only hit four other home runs in 1978, quickly became one of the most hated sports figures in Boston.
Time -- and the end of the perceived Curse of the Bambino -- heals all wounds, I suppose. Even though the Red Sox had won a few championships in recent seasons, I was still surprised when they allowed me to bring Dent to the place where he broke their collective hearts all those years earlier for an interview and photo shoot in 2016.
We arrived at Fenway on a beautiful spring morning and were escorted out to home plate, where Dent shared his memories of hitting the home run and posed for a photo in the batter’s box. From there, we walked out to left field, took photos in front of the Green Monster and then made our way up to the seats that were added atop the 37-foot wall. Once we got up there, Dent sat down and reminisced about so much of his life since hitting that pitch from Mike Torrez.
The precious moments spent with Dent atop the Green Monster were unforgettable for me, and I’m proud that they can live on forever in print. Later that night, we sat in the front row behind the Yankees dugout as Dent’s former team took on its archrival. Before the first pitch, Dent told me that there was one thing he still longed to do in Fenway Park: walk up to a beer vendor and order a few cold ones. That, too, was a moment that left an indelible mark in my memory bank.
Our readers were able to see two great pitchers in very unique settings when Goose Gossage and Andy Pettitte allowed me to visit them at their respective weekend getaway locations. In 2011, I spent a few days with Gossage in Leadville, Colorado, where he owns two cabins in a trout-fishing paradise. As a lifelong angler myself, the chance to spend time on the water -- and catch more than 30 fish in three days -- with a Hall of Famer in the mountainous town 10,152 feet above sea level while learning about Gossage’s passion for catching trout on a fly rod was magical.
A few years after that, I spent a day with Pettitte on his ranch, situated between San Antonio, Texas, and the border of Mexico. Pettitte’s land extends for miles, and each winter he and his family spend plenty of time hunting deer there. For a story about Pettitte’s first year away from baseball, I accompanied him on a hunt. Of all of the anecdotes that I’ve written, I can’t imagine that any have provided our readers with a more unique look into the life of a Yankees player than the words I wrote about Pettitte from that day, and the accompanying photos were equally wild.
Our coverage has extended to conversations with influential people from other walks of life waxing poetic about baseball and the Yankees. I’ve enjoyed conducting many of our Art of Sport interviews over the last 10 years, none more than those with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The two most candid interviews I’ve conducted were also for this recurring Q&A. One was with Mike Tyson in a conference room in the Big Apple and the other was with Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson in the Florida Keys over a bucket of cold Heinekens.
When Opportunity Knocks
by Nathan Maciborski
“Welcome to the big leagues.” Brian Cashman shook my hand and offered those words, grinning at his subtle dig at my previous employer. It was Sept. 17, 2007 -- my first day as an editor for the New York Yankees -- and while it would not be the last time I bore witness to the general manager’s wry sense of humor, it was the first of many memorable moments I’ve had while working on Yankees Magazine.
For a kid from New Jersey who grew up idolizing Don Mattingly but whose baseball playing career never advanced beyond the backyard, joining the Yankees wasn’t a dream come true -- it was an unfathomable opportunity. And on this 40th anniversary of Yankees Magazine, when I think about everything that my fellow editors and I have achieved and everything that is still to come, that word -- opportunity -- keeps coming to mind.
Having spent my youth scraping together money for Yankees tickets, I know that once you step inside Yankee Stadium, there are a lot of different things vying for your attention. Concessions, merchandise, more tickets. Since joining the team’s publications department, I’ve had the opportunity to make sure that there is no better value, no bigger bang for your buck, than Yankees Magazine.
When a new issue arrives at the Stadium loading dock, I tear open that first box and imagine I am a fan sitting in the stands, flipping from cover to cover while the other team takes batting practice. Although in reality I have already pored over each page during the editing process so many times that the contents are seared into my brain, I try to look at the magazine with “fresh eyes.” And what strikes me most often in that moment is the diversity and the depth of our coverage -- and the amount of thought and care that goes into executing it.
It starts with the cover. Landing on the cover of Yankees Magazine is a big deal for Yankees players, and having the opportunity to write a cover story is a big deal for us as writers. I’m not a big autograph collector, but a copy of my first cover -- “The Big Pitch,” September 2011 -- signed by CC Sabathia is among my most cherished keepsakes.
What is even more valuable to me is the time that our subjects are willing to spend with us. It is impossible to sit in the Yankees dugout talking to someone such as Sabathia about baseball and not come away with a greater understanding of the game. Even a brief chat on the field during Old-Timers’ Day with a former Yankees great can be an enlightening experience. And when we’re able to get away from the ballpark and really dig into the lives of our subjects, those are the stories that make Yankees Magazine truly unique.
Although we are a baseball magazine, the best sportswriting, in my opinion, isn’t about stats and numbers. It’s about people. And Yankees Magazine has afforded me the opportunity to tell the stories of the people behind those world-famous pinstripes. What a privilege it was to spend a day at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center with Yogi himself. Or with Jerry Coleman just months before he passed away, hearing (and seeing) how he overcame a rough childhood to become a World Series champion, a heroic fighter pilot in two wars and a legendary broadcaster in San Diego. From Bonao, Dominican Republic, to Corunna, Ontario, I have visited places I never would have otherwise seen, returning with stories that our readers would never find elsewhere.
Writing for Yankees Magazine has also given me the opportunity to explore our team’s rich history. After spending my first year on the job working on a special nine-volume magazine set called The Stadium I was eager to shed further light on some of the anecdotes contained therein. In one particular year, I wrote feature-length stories for Yankees Magazine on the 1943 Yankees’ Spring Training season held in Asbury Park, N.J.; the largest single-day baseball crowd in Yankee Stadium history (Sept. 9, 1928); and a wild week in August 1976 when the newly refurbished Stadium hosted a Yankees game, a Cosmos soccer game and two Jets preseason games amid a hurricane.
With every story, it is our goal to keep readers of all ages informed and entertained. When Jonathan Loaisiga comes into a game, we want you to be able to say, “Hey, did you know that his dad is Nicaragua’s all-time home run king?” When Gleyber Torres sounds wise beyond his years during a postgame interview, we want you to recall the words of praise he had for his parents (and the adorable family photos that accompanied them) in Yankees Magazine. And with baseball serving as the glue that bonds different generations, we want to help indoctrinate the next wave of Yankees fans. I never had a subscription to Yankees Magazine growing up, but seeing the way my 9-year-old son dives into each new issue, completing the Kids Corner puzzles and tearing out the poster to add to his bedroom wall, I wish I did.
As Yankees Magazine begins its fifth decade of existence, I can’t predict exactly what’s in store for our readers. But I can guarantee that I, along with our talented staff of editors, will continue to provide tremendous value for anyone who plunks down their hard-earned money at Yankee Stadium or for a subscription. Our expectation is for every issue to be amazing.
After all, this is the big leagues.
by Jon Schwartz
It was one of the greatest backhanded compliments I have ever received, one I will never forget: “I think it took as long to read it as it took for you to run it.”
It was early 2016, and we were excited to be bringing our Yankees Magazine content online. One of the first articles we uploaded to our new site, www.yankees.com/magazine, was a piece I had just finished about my effort to run the 2015 New York City Marathon on behalf of CC Sabathia’s PitCCh In Foundation, highlighting the work that that the foundation did throughout the community while telling a very personal story some 3,000 words long.
My valiant attempt to run 26.2 miles took nearly six hours, so that must have been some slow reading.
But the comment also hit at what is after six years on the staff of Yankees Magazine my favorite thing about this publication: We dig the longform almost as much as the longball.
These are difficult times for print media, and the aftermath of a global pandemic will no doubt bring even more challenges. And at the risk of criticizing our brethren in a struggling industry, too often media executives respond to challenges by resorting to cheap, ill-informed groupthink, chasing page views with photo galleries, pivoting to video, or any number of other disastrous choices over the years that have cannibalized otherwise great institutions. All the while, we’re constantly told that modern-day readers don’t have the patience for or interest in long, well-reported and well-constructed stories.
I’m not going to suggest that there aren’t advantages that we enjoy at Yankees Magazine that make us unique. Mercifully, our publication is not in danger of being sold off to some private equity firm that wants our intellectual property trademarks and nothing else. And to be sure, there are a number of media companies today that are successfully leaning on subscription models to remain vital, interesting and alive. But still, it’s a great credit to the Yankees, and to the staff at Yankees Magazine that we have continued to zag while so many others zig. We don’t shy away from 3,000-word features just because some readers might be looking for a nugget-sized snack.
Case in point: Over a recent 12-month span, I reported stories from Tampa, Fla; Akron, Ohio; Trenton, N.J; Moosic, Pa.; Oakland, Calif.; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Cleveland and London; to say nothing of the reporting I’ve done in and around New York. I -- and I would like to believe, our readers -- have benefited from an organizational determination that telling our players’ stories is a worthwhile investment. I don’t believe that I could have offered the same insight into Thurman Munson’s life and legacy as I did last year, on the 40th anniversary of his death, had I not been able to spend time ambling around Akron, visiting all the places that bear his name or likeness. No matter how often I spoke with DJ LeMahieu around Yankee Stadium, there was value in showing the way that his reticent personality translated to the spectacle of All-Star Week in 2019.
None of this is to suggest that readers who prefer their stories short and to the point are somehow wrong, just that there are plenty of news sources that cater to them. It’s simply that there’s also space for what Yankees Magazine is committed to doing. No team in baseball is covered more holistically than the Yankees, and our fans are the richer for it, but with that wealth of options comes a need for diversity in content. I’m incredibly proud and grateful to be able to dig deep, to make 50 phone calls when 10 might have sufficed; to spend weeks on a story instead of hours; to aim for 3,000 words instead of these 750.
And if, as a result of that commitment, you have a fuller view of Gary Sánchez’s work ethic than you might have otherwise? If those extra words make you see Jasson Dominguez in a way you couldn’t before? If I could perhaps use a few extra pages to enhance your understanding of the Yankees’ partnership with The Stonewall Inn so you can recognize how special and meaningful the bond is? That’s the biggest win I could want.
Our stories are long. We think they’re worth it. More than that, we’re glad that these long stories remain a key part of our mission statement. We hope you will continue to agree with us. Here’s to 40 more years of longballs and longform.
Through the Lens
by Ariele Goldman Hecht
In 2005, I got my dream job. I had grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, so to be honest, I knew very little about the Yankees when I first started. I knew of some of the greats who donned the pinstripes, but overall, I was pretty naive about the team’s history. Over time, I have become immersed in Yankees baseball -- the stories, the players, the coaches, the personnel. What I can say now is that I feel so fortunate to have had a front-row seat to document some of the more recent history, something I do not take for granted.
People ask me all the time about my favorite photo. The truth is, I don’t have one. I have so many memories and moments that stand out as “favorites,” but I could never pick just one photo. I think about the postseason run in 2009 and eventually being anointed world champions in our new home that first year. The groundbreaking in 2006 followed by documenting the construction of Yankee Stadium and our move across the street. Derek Jeter’s final game. Aaron Judge’s first game. The All-Star Game and Home Run Derby in 2008. The farewells of the Core Four. Not to mention all the incredible stories and moments I have been able to photograph away from the Bronx. Alex Rodriguez in Miami at the Boys & Girls Clubs followed by a return trip to capture him and Dan Marino together at the Dolphins’ stadium. Didi Gregorius in Curaçao. Jerry Coleman in San Diego. Mike Ditka while I was eight months pregnant (couldn’t pass up an opportunity to photograph Da Coach!). Dinner with Don Larsen, David Cone and David Wells. Just being a fly on the wall at that meal was truly one of my most favorite nights on the job. The Arizona Fall League. Russell Wilson in Yankees camp (On Wisconsin!). Trips to our Minor League affiliates to capture the prospects, some of whom are now Major Leaguers and some who have since retired. Trips to the White House and the Dominican Republic after we won the 2009 World Series (the latter taking place a week before my wedding). There has been soccer, football, concerts, boxing and so many other non-baseball events I have been able to capture. This truly has been quite the ride, and I get to call it my job.
The Yankees have afforded me the opportunity to do what I love to do for 16 years. And at the core of it all is Yankees Magazine. We are a small group of individuals who share a passion for what we do in creating a product that we are proud of day in and day out. My role as a chief photographer and senior photography editor has allowed me to play a key role in helping to showcase the work of our talented photographers on the pages and cover of the magazine. Many great photographers and editors have come before us, and it has been an honor to carry on the legacy of what they started 40 years ago. We are evolving and growing each year. Our photos and stories are no longer limited to the magazine; they are also used on the Yankees’ website, social media platforms, advertisements, marketing campaigns, even billboards in Times Square. Our stories are being retold to listeners on our podcast. We love what we do, and we are proud to share it in numerous ways.
This article appears in the September 2020 issue of Yankees Magazine. Get more articles like this delivered to your doorstep at yankees.com/publications.