Gerrit Cole officially got his pinstripes Wednesday in the Bronx. The Yankees introduced their new ace in a Wednesday morning press conference at Yankee Stadium. Cole put on his No. 45 jersey for the first time, and answered questions about his free agency and his decision to join the team he grew up rooting for. Cole, 29, during last week's Winter Meetings. It broke Stephen Strasburg's short-standing record for biggest pitching contract in MLB history.
Here are four of the biggest takeaways from Wednesday's press conference.
1. Cole brought the sign
Although Cole grew up in Southern California, he was a Yankees fan throughout his childhood. At Wednesday's press conference, Cole explained that he was a fan of the Bronx Bombers because of his father, Mark, who went to school in New York. As an 11-year-old, he attended Game 6 of the 2001 World Series against the Diamondbacks, and Newsday photographer Bill Perlman captured the young Cole holding a sign that reads: "Yankee Fan Today Tomorrow Forever."
It turns out that Cole has somehow managed to keep the sign, and he brought it out at Wednesday's press conference. When Cole made it to the podium, he asked that his wife, Amy, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner and his agent, Scott Boras, to stand up, so that he could present something that was "special to [his] heart."
At the 2001 World Series, Cole held the sign while wearing a Derek Jeter jersey. He held the faded sign again Wednesday wearing his own set of pinstripes.
"I'm here, I've always been here," Cole said.
2. Cole showed off his new look
As is Yankees official team policy, players must have their hair cut above the collar of their baseball jersey and no beards are allowed. Meaning that Cole -- who has sported long hair and a full beard during his two-year tenure in Houston -- was going to require a pretty extensive haircut prior to his first public appearance in pinstripes. Not only did Cole don his new Yankees jersey (), but he also debuted a look that included a clean-shaved face along with a shorter haircut. Take a look:
"I've experienced razor burn now for the first time in the last 10 years," Cole joked in Wednesday's press conference.
3. Cole explained the 'large gold home plate'
Included in the Yankees pitch to Cole was athat apparently played a role in Cole's final decision. Well, on Wednesday, the contraption was finally revealed in more detail. Cole told reporters that it was actually a gold home plate, containing an iPad with everything you need to know about the Yankees and New York. Here's Cole's breakdown of the gift:
"Well, it is a large gold home plate, probably about 12 inches high, the size of home plate. When you open it, it's embodied in pinstripes, and there's an iPad that opens up to the top. [The iPad has] everything you need to know about the Yankees organization. Background on the Steinbrenner's, background on the front office and the development program, spring training stuff, where to live in Manhattan, where to live outside of the city, personal messages from some of the players, Brian, Aaron. It was really quite nice. I was impressed. The contraception was really sweet. I guess I'm a millennial, right? So we're all suckers for tablets. I could pull the tablet out and play along with it. It was really informational for us. Once we came to terms, there was a Yankees hat in there, which I don't think I took off for like three days."
4. Cole thanked Marvin Miller and Curt Flood
During Cole's thank yous, he made mention of Cardinals outfielder and Curt Flood, who fought alongside Miller against the league's reserve clause in 1969. Here's what Cole said regarding the pair of MLB player advocates:Marvin Miller along with
"Marvin Miller, specifically, what a special year for him to get inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. We've seen competitiveness blossom and free agency blossom and he played a major role in that. Curt Flood, as well, challenging the reserve clause was essential to the blossoming sport we have today. And all the players that have sacrificed for us to get us into this position and preserve the integrity of the game that we all love."
Miller was recentlyby the 16-person Modern Era Baseball Committee. Miller, who died at 95 in November 2012, was the executive director of Major League Baseball's players association from 1966 to 1982. Flood, who died at the age of 59 in 1997, was defeated in court by Major League Baseball but his activism eventually yielded a free market for players. Cole paid homage to two people who helped make it possible for him to land a $324 million deal.