NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Aaron Boone acknowledges that one of his first tasks as Yankees manager is to convince his players he can do the job.
Boone was introduced as Joe Girardi’s successor at a Yankee Stadium news conference Wednesday. Boone has never managed or coached at any level, working as a broadcaster since retiring as a player in 2009.
“Hopefully, I think, in short order I’ll be able to earn that respect, that they’ll be able to look at me, trust in me, know that I have their interests at heart but know that hopefully I know what the heck I’m talking about,” Boone said. “And that’s something that you have to earn over the initial days in spring training, in the season. I’m certainly confident in my ability in that that will happen.”
Boone, 44, played 12 seasons in the majors for the Reds, Yankees, Indians, Marlins, Nationals and Astros. He is best remembered in New York for his walk-off home run against the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series.
As manager, Boone said he will seek to build strong relationships with his players.
“I think the way you can breathe into guys, tap into guys the most is by establishing relationships,” he said. “And one thing I promise you is we’re going to have great relationships with our players.”
Boone inherits a team loaded with young talent — which includes sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez — that fell just one win short of the World Series. He knows expectations are sky high.
“This is a team that in many ways came of age this year and arrived, and I’m really comfortable and believe that me and my staff will be part of helping them take the next step,” he said. “Obviously, the expectation here with the New York Yankees is to win championships, and certainly that’s always the goal when we set out each and every year, but what I’m most looking forward to is the chance to have an impact on young men, on young ballplayers and being a part of them taking the next step to now become championship-level players.”
But there was no dodging the questions about Boone’s inexperience Wednesday. General manager Brian Cashman confronted the issue head-on by comparing the hiring of Boone to when George Steinbrenner hired him as general manager — when he had no GM experience — in 1998.
“We are very proud of that fact that we’re going to be introducing somebody that we think is going to be a great asset for this franchise, someone that we can work with and collaborate with and plug and play with and grow with in good times and in bad, because nothing ever goes perfect,” Cashman said.
While his hiring may have come as surprise to some, Boone said that after he interviewed for the job last month he felt he belonged. He beat out five other candidates for the job, including Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens and former Yankees bench coach Rob Thomson.
“I didn’t come here to go through an exercise. I came out here to get the job,” he said. “But that being said, when I left, I at least felt good that I represented well. And then it was a matter of “if I’m their guy or not, I guess we’ll find out.” So I was very much at peace waiting for the decision to come down.”
In an interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa, Cashman said he was impressed by Boone’s “ability to obviously understand the game that he already knows and loves. His communication skills seem to be off the charts. His relatability, his genuineness, his body clock in terms of how I think he’ll handle stressers and pressure and stuff I think resonated strongly throughout that process of our interview with him.”
Boone also performed well with the Yankees’ analytics, performance science and medical staffs, said Cashman, who called the new manager “progressive and open-minded.”
“So he was checking all the boxes,” Cashman said.
Boone will wear No. 17, his number with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians. Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has the No. 19 jersey Boone wore with the Yankees in 2003.
The Boones are the first family to produce three generations of major leaguers. His grandfather, Ray, was a two-time All-Star infielder from 1948-60. His father, Bob, was a four-time All-Star catcher from 1972-90, then managed Kansas City from 1995-97 and Cincinnati from 2001-03. His brother, Bret, was a three-time All-Star second baseman in a big league career from 1992-05.
Aaron Boone will be part of only the third father-and-son pairing to manage in the major leagues, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. George and Dick Sisler, and Bob and Joel Skinner are the others.
Five days after New York lost to Houston in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series, Cashman announced Oct. 26 that Girardi was not being offered a new contract after 10 seasons, the team’s 27th World Series title in 2009 and a 910-710 regular-season record. Cashman later said he was concerned over “ability to fully engage, communicate, connect with the playing personnel.”
Boone becomes the 17th of 30 managers working his first major league managing job and just the third with no previous managing or coaching experience at any level, joining Mike Matheny of St. Louis and Craig Counsell of Milwaukee. But Matheny spent two seasons as a special assistant in player development that included spring training work as a catching instructor, and Counsell was a special assistant to the Brewers’ general manager from 2012-15.
Boone is the third new manager among the 10 teams that reached this year’s playoffs after Boston’s Alex Cora and Washington’s Dave Martinez.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)