NEW YORK — Aaron Boone has already helped the Yankees advance to one World Series. Now they want him to lead the franchise to its next one. Boone has been selected as the 35th manager in franchise history, two sources confirmed to MLB.com on Friday evening, concluding a managerial search that began on October 26 and spanned five weeks. The Yankees have not made an official announcement.
The author of one of the most memorable moments in Yankees postseason history, a deciding home run off Tim Wakefield that defeated the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series, Boone will assume the prestigious position without any previous coaching or managerial experience.
“I feel like I am the guy that can hopefully help these guys go to another level as players,” Boone said after his Nov. 17 interview. “Obviously, they were able to accomplish a lot. A lot of guys not only established themselves this year, but established themselves as stars. Hopefully I can be a part of helping them take it to another level.”
General manager Brian Cashman cited “communication and connectivity” as important prerequisites when the Yankees parted ways with Joe Girardi after a decade with him at the helm. Those are challenges that the affable Boone should be able to handle as he begins to familiarize himself with the team’s young roster.
A popular clubhouse presence during his playing career, Boone has been a television analyst since his retirement in 2009, giving him considerable exposure to the ocean of advanced statistics that have become vitally important in overseeing a big league game.
“I find myself managing games all the time and thinking about strategies and how I would handle different situations,” Boone said. “Certainly, it’s fair to question my experience in actually doing the job, but I would say in a way I’ve been preparing for this job for the last 44 years.”
A corner infielder who batted .263 during his 12-year Major League career, Boone played part of the 2003 season with the Yankees. He spent seven seasons with the Reds and also appeared with the Indians, Marlins, Nationals and Astros.
Cashman said on Friday morning that the team was ready to move on from the interview process, having brought Yanks bench coach Rob Thomson, former Indians and Mariners manager Eric Wedge, Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens, Boone, Dodgers third-base coach Chris Woodward and recently retired slugger Carlos Beltran to Yankee Stadium for lengthy interviews.
As such, Cashman said that he was prepared to make his recommendation to managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, which turned out to be Boone. Thomson, who had been in the Yankees’ organization for 28 seasons, plans to accept a bench coach position with the Phillies, while Beltran has said that he is looking forward to spending time at home with his family.
Boone’s grandfather, Ray, father, Bob, and brother, Bret, all played in the Majors, and his father managed the Reds (1995-97) and Royals (2001-03).
“I’ve been going to the ballpark since I was 3 and 4 years old, and in a way, managing the game from a very young age,” Boone said. “My dad was in the big leagues from the time I was born to a senior in high school. Being around great teams, great players, I’ve kind of lived this game.”
Boone remains a fan favorite in New York — and, like Bucky Dent, will always carry an alternative middle name in Boston — because of that one big swing in the 2003 ALCS. He injured his left knee while playing basketball during the following offseason, setting off a sequence of events that led to the Yankees’ February 2004 trade for Alex Rodriguez.
Boone said on Nov. 17 that he believes his brief time with the Yankees will help him prepare for the challenges of managing in the New York spotlight.
“It’s just understanding what it is to be a Yankee, what it is to play here and just understanding the expectations that go with it,” Boone said. “Certainly the expectations now will be ramped up even more after such a successful season and when you look at the roster that we’re going to potentially have out there. I know what I would be signing up for.”
By Bryan Hoch