Almost 16 months after his son turned Yankee, Mark Cole will see Gerrit for the first time at Yankee Stadium on opening day.
After Gerrit Cole’s first season in the Bronx was played in front of empty stadiums due to the pandemic, His father, who grew up a Yankees fan in New York State, will be there on Thursday to watch Cole take off in pinstripes against the Blue Jays.
« It’s going to be very special for him, » said Cole on Wednesday after a training session in the stadium. « I can’t imagine the feeling. I can’t imagine what he’s going to feel. It was nice to get him into the playoffs last year and to see a postseason start in San Diego. But this is Mecca. This is Yankee Stadium. He’s going to be pretty excited. «
Cole had joked during spring training that his father said he’d sit outside the gates of Yankee Stadium on opening day and listen to the radio if fans weren’t allowed . Fortunately for Mark, he will be one of the 10,850 fans approved as the stadium will open with limited capacity while following COVID-19 protocols.
Alongside his father, the Cole 2001 World Series Game of the Yankees, where the then 11-year-old wore the now famous sign that read « Yankee Fan Today, Tomorrow, Forever », Cole will also have his mother, sister, mother-in-law, wife and son, who on his second opening day start as a Yankee.
The $ 324 million right-handed player recorded a 2.84 ERA in his first season as a Yankee, knocking out 94 batters in 73 innings. He will try to make the leap back to his usual heavy workload this season. Manager Aaron Boone recently said he believes Cole could hit 200 innings.
That journey begins in full on Thursday, and while Cole said he had trouble sleeping Tuesday night, the Yankees ace is ready to finally go his father and family to play among the fans in attendance.
« The bigger the game, the more people, the louder the buzz in general. In some ways, it’s easier to just tune out and focus, put on your blinders and get the job done, « said Cole. “I assume I will probably hear some people cheering and need to be a little fluid with my focus. But for the most part, you expect excitement, you expect the energy that you can feel throughout the stadium. I’ll let that get my adrenaline pumping, let that stir my emotions.
« I can have a look there [at my family] after I’m done. But we’re all on business before I’m taken out of the game. «
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