Sports

Brett Gardner can’t wait for ‘special’ Yankees roll call to return

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As told to Dan Martin.

Welcome back.

As tough as it was for fans not to be able to come to our games last year, it was tough for us to go out and play in front of empty stadiums. Not having fans was definitely different and definitely uncomfortable.

We were aware there were plenty of fans at home watching on their phones or TVs or listening on the radio and we still have an audience, but it’s great as a player on the field to hear the fans in the seats and see them and interact with them a little bit. That’s what our game is all about.

There’s been a little different feel to spring training this year, with the limited capacity versus years past, but some fans are definitely better than none. We’ll really enjoy it once the season gets underway, especially at home in The Bronx. I think it’ll be a blast.

When we go out to stretch before a game or when we have a big inning or a pitcher has a big strikeout or there’s a big play on defense, our fans are always behind us and we feel that. We’re obviously all baseball players, but we’re really entertainers, right? We’re looking to give the fans something to get excited about and something to cheer for.

The roll call is something that’s very special and not having it last year was glaring. I’ve been a part of a lot of them in New York — and even sometimes on the road — but at home, the Bleacher Creatures getting fired up before the first pitch of the game was missing. It will be a good feeling to get that back.

And it wasn’t just New York. I remember our first game of the season last year, we opened in Washington and the stadium was empty. It was just a different feel. Even the boos — not just the cheers — are good. We deserve those from time to time.

Having fans back in the stands was something that helped me make the decision to come back for another year. It’s something I thought about. Last year was tough for a lot of guys for a lot of different reasons. Being able to have fans back this year, even if at the beginning in a limited capacity, I think is a step in the right direction. I know even though all the seats might not be full, our fans will be excited to be back in the Stadium, cheering for us.

Yankees Opening Day fans Brett Gardner
Yankees fans react to Brett Gardner in the outfield on July 16, 2019.
Anthony J. Causi

I think back to my first game in the majors, which was at the old Stadium against the Rangers in June 2008. I don’t remember a lot about the game and I had put on the pinstripes in spring training, but putting them on in the clubhouse and running on the field with my family there is a special memory. I remember how loud it was. The noise the crowd generates, as players, we feed off that and last year, we missed it.

Opening Day is getting closer and with Gerrit Cole pitching for us, I think that’s something Yankee fans have been waiting to see for a long time. Gerrit did great for us last year, but they’ll be happy to see that ‘45’ on the mound in pinstripes and we’re looking forward to that being the beginning of a special season.

We’ve been working so hard to get back to the World Series. Some of these playoff games the last few years in The Bronx have been great. The games against the Indians, like when Gary Sanchez got that huge homer to right-center in Game 4 of the ALDS in 2017. The Stadium was going crazy and the bleachers just erupted.

We look forward to giving them more of those moments.


Fan favorites

With fans set to return to Yankee Stadium and Citi Field this season, The Post asked you on social media to share your favorite memory of attending a ballgame. Here were some of your responses:

David, 36: My favorite game I’ve attended so far was Game 3 of the 2012 World Series. My wife and I went as newlyweds. I had always wanted to go to a World Series game and I finally got the chance to go for the first time. The atmosphere in Detroit (my hometown) was fantastic and the whole experience was really memorable.

Donna, 57: The best baseball game of my life was the last that I got to experience with my dad. He was a huge Mo Vaughn fan and as we settled into our seats, I whispered into his ear and told him that I had a chat with Mo and asked him to hit a Grand Slam for my dad (jokingly, of course). It ended up being the “The Boston Massacre” game. After our celebration, I elbowed my dad and said, “Told you.” It was the last game that we got to attended together. He became very ill shortly after and I lost him in April of 2002.

Peter, 52: Game 2 of the 2005 World Series. It was overwhelming to see the team you grew up cheering for not only in the World Series but walking it off from a HR by the most unlikely person in the lineup. This was the only time I’ve ever seen “my team” in the WS. The wait was long, but seeing that almost makes it worth it.

Will, 39: Friday, June 30th, 2000. Fireworks Night. John Rocker’s Braves are crushing the Mets 8-3 with two outs in the bottom of the 8th inning. The comeback begins. Piazza’s homer puts the Mets ahead for good. It bangs off the left field mezzanine five feet away from me and my dad. Shea shook. Never saw brighter fireworks in my life.

Dan, 40: Sept. 8, 2018 at Citi Field I took my son Ben, then about to turn 4, to his first Mets game. We toured the ballpark earlier in the day, we met Mr. Met, sat field level, the Mets won and rookie Jeff McNeil signed a ball for us. The best day.

Deidre, 26: Old-Timers’ Day 2019 at Yankee Stadium! I got to see my mom fangirl over her favorite baseball players just like I do about mine! They were all so nice and gave us all big waves coming from the dugout. Definitely a memory I will cherish with my Mom.

Nick, 48: Game 7 of the 2001 Series Yankees vs. Diamondbacks. The country’s unity after 9/11 was extremely emotional. Game came down to bottom of the ninth and two outs. Although the Yankees didn’t win, greatest game I ever had the pleasure of watching.

Craig, 52: Went to Game 5 of the ’86 World Series with my Dad. After the ceremonies Ted Williams walked across the infield, stepped over the wall near home plate and sat down in the row right in front of us. Bruce Hurst pitched a gem, thought we had the Mets on the ropes.

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