Yanks' turtle Bronxie 'living right' in new crib

March 25th, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees’ late-September surge last season was fueled by turtle power, with the club enjoying a seven-game winning streak after welcoming an adorable slowpoke they named Bronxie. He was part of the team, even receiving a bubbly bath when the club secured an American League Wild Card berth.

But what became of Bronxie after the (ahem) "shellebrations?" The Yankees’ rally turtle was recently relocated to the New Settlement community center in the Bronx, where he is enjoying celebrity status among neighborhood children.

“They took him with open arms; it was well-received,” said left-hander Nestor Cortes. “They did a whole thing for him there; they made a huge deal about it down at the community center. That’s what I was told, so I think he’s living right.”

Cortes was a driving force behind the adoption, believing that the clubhouse would benefit from a distraction at the end of a season that was widely described as frustrating -- at one point, general manager Brian Cashman went so far as to call his team’s performance “unwatchable.”

“I presented the idea, but I can’t take credit for everything,” Cortes said. “I told the guys, ‘Hey, do you think we should get a pet in here?’ And everyone was like, ‘I don’t know. It’s the New York Yankees. We’re not used to this stuff.’”

Cortes polled several veterans on the team, including Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo, all of whom were in favor of the suggestion.

“We all spoke about it, like, ‘What do you think?’” Cortes said. “Obviously we couldn’t get a spider or a snake in there, so we were going to go with something friendly. Hamsters came up; so did turtles and a bird. We figured a turtle is low maintenance. We took care of it, but it wasn’t like we had to watch out for it every single day.”

Cortes purchased the turtle, along with a tank, rocks and food. LeMahieu and Rizzo were among the players most concerned with caring for Bronxie, who made his Major League debut on Sept. 20, present in Yankee Stadium’s home clubhouse for the Yankees’ 4-3 victory over the Rangers.

New York won the next two nights by scores of 7-1 and 7-3, prompting the Bombers to add Bronxie to the traveling party for a Sept. 24-26 series at Boston’s Fenway Park.

The Yankees polished off a three-game sweep of the Red Sox that weekend, outscoring Boston by a 19-9 margin. Customs regulations prohibited Bronxie from accompanying the Yankees on their next trip to Toronto’s Rogers Centre, and after a 7-2 victory over the Blue Jays in the series opener, New York’s win streak ended on Sept. 29.

But the Yanks were sporting turtle T-shirts for batting practice by the next homestand, and when they clinched a playoff spot on Oct. 3 behind Aaron Judge’s walk-off single to sink the Rays, Cortes made sure that Bronxie was hoisted in the wet and wild clubhouse celebration.

The turtle once again traveled to Boston, but when the Yankees’ season ended in the AL Wild Card Game, Cortes temporarily entrusted Bronxie to a clubhouse worker who already had experience caring for several turtles, then learned this spring about the community center plan.

Bronxie’s new home is planning an announcement during the first week of the regular season, and Cortes said that he hopes to see his reptilian buddy again this year. Maybe the Yanks will even welcome him back as a September call-up.

“I hope we do,” Cortes said. “It would be nice to visit him, or he can visit us. Who knows? We might need something this year.”