The New York Yankees have been blessed with many great players in their illustrious history. It is questionable as to whether Brett Gardner is one of them. But one thing is for sure, he has been the heart and soul of the Yankees and the leader in the Clubhouse for the past thirteen years. He is also the longest-tenured Yankee and the last player to have played during the Yankees last World Series win in 2009. He has also been a mentor teaching “baby bomber” how to play the game by example and how to be a Yankee. Gardner is most known for his excellent defense, his speed, and base stealing ability. Although he has made his share of offensive hits and home runs that have contributed to the Yankees’ success. Last year, he had one of the best seasons of his career, hitting 28 home runs. Gardner has said throughout his career that he wants to remain a New York Yankee and retire from the game as one.
This year as his offense fell off, he recently has lost his starting job in the lineup, to the up and coming Clint Frazier. He has been relegated to second string, hitting just .198 while still having a fairly respectable .721 OPS. Last offseason, he and the Yankee brass negotiated a one year contract with an option for 2021. If the Yankees don’t exercise the option, they will have to buy out his contract for $2.5 million. But before Friday’s game at Fenway Park, Gardner let his plan be known for the 2021 season. At age 37, he doesn’t want this to be his last year with the Yankees.
“I definitely don’t want my last games played to be in front of no fans and I’d love to see my family to have the chance to see me play again, so I would love to play next year. I feel healthy and strong. I know that this season hasn’t maybe gone how I wanted from a numbers’ standpoint, but recently I have been better. I’ve felt much better and hopefully I’ll continue to play well down the stretch.”
Brett Gardner has played his best baseball of the season in September, as he’s hitting .429 average over his last six games with two homers, a triple, five RBI, and five walks. Also, Yankee analytics has indicated some of his earlier poor hitting was more bad luck than an inability to hit, with many balls going directly at opponents.
“I want to play,” Gardner said. “Playing in front of no fans, my family obviously can watch on TV and see me play, but it’s not the same as in person. So I would love that opportunity to do that again next year. I feel great and I feel like I can still do it. “We’ll see what happens in a few months, but right now I’m just focused on this team and trying to go into the playoffs strong and hopefully win a World Series.”
Brett grew up on a farm in the shadow of his Dad who was a minor league baseball player in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. So it was natural that Brett would play baseball for the local American Legion post and also play the game when he attended Holly Hill Academy. When he attended the College of Charleston in 2001, he decided to try out for their baseball team as a walk-on. He ended up playing 3 years as a starter for the team. In his senior year, he batted .447, tied for the most hits in all of college baseball with 122, established a Cougars record with 85 runs scored, and led the Southern Conference with 38 stolen bases. After his senior year, the Yankees selected Brett in the third round of the draft.
Brett worked his way throught the New York Yankees minor league system and made his major league debut in 2008. Gardner, on September 21, 2008, he scored the final run of Major League Baseball in old Yankee Stadium history as a pinch-runner for Jason Giambi, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Robinson Canó in the seventh inning of an eventual 7–3 win for the Yankees over the Baltimore Orioles.
In 2019 Brett played some of his best baseball of his career, but some of Gardner’s worth was reduced when newly acquired DJ LeMahieu took over his spot as the everyday leadoff hitter. Now in 2020, Clint Frazier has taken his place in most lineups now that the Yankees have awarded him a place in the permanent lineup. It would seem like the loveable “Gardy’s” days are numbered. In a poll I created earlier in the year, Brett Gardner came out as the Yankee fans favorite player, just above Aaron Judge. The offseason will determine if Gardner ever wears the pinstripes again.