Book Summary: Some say that the New York Yankees were looking for the pieces to their next championship in 2014 when Captain Derek Jeter decided to hang them up. Little did the fan base know the pieces were already there and maturing, returning their team to unimaginable success in just a short period.
I’ve been a Yankees fan since 1996. I was fortunate enough to live through the dynasty years of 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000, with two other close encounters with the championship in 2001 and 2003. After that, the franchise I hold near and dear to my heart went into some dark days with only one beat of light since 2000, a single championship in 2009. A lot of money went into that championship, and the fanbase knew that one of the world’s most valuable franchises was going to spend and stay in contention.
Buying a championship has a whole boat of consequences that don’t show their true colours a year or two after, but many down the road. Long after the champagne had dried up, the Yankees went from being the toast of the baseball world to the team the decade forgot.
Pricey veterans get old, and rookies who played their first games in the mid-2000s also got old. To stay competitive and strive for a World Series ring every season, the Yankees needed to dig deep and rebuild on the fly. Through scouting, faith, and trust, the Yankees organization’s brain trust was able to keep the team on the field competitive with an eye on the future.
Bryan Hoch did a fantastic job taking us down memory lane, revisiting the end of the dynasty with Jeter’s final game and how the franchise was able to turn the corner after their legendary Captain stepped away. It was 2014, and the Yankees already knew what was coming. Behind the scenes, players were being scouted and signed to help bring the Bronx Bombers back to the promised land.
Scouts were out there in California looking at a 6’8″ prospect named Aaron Judge. Some international scouts were pursuing heat thrower, Luis Severino. Eyes were on other team prospects like Chicago’s Gleyber Torres and Cleveland’s Clint Fraizer. Those teams would eventually meet in the 2016 World Series, but a handful of Yankees were vital in making that matchup happen. Even though the Yankees were on the outside looking in, they had grabbed those franchises’ best assets for themselves. Meanwhile, the scouting department had their gem, Greg Bird, the future power-hitting infielder supposed to take the mantle.
Those are the five names you will find in The Baby Bombers: The Inside Story of the Next Yankees Dynasty. Hoch takes us from diamond to diamond; whether it was in the United States or South America, each vital cog’s stories in the future Yankees engine got very in-depth coverage. It was intriguing to follow the player’s struggles and then find their footing with each promotion.
As a die-hard fan, I follow the players and their statistics on the ball diamond. I love the history of the game and don’t usually venture deep into people’s personal histories. I don’t care how you did in Double-A or Triple-A; I only care what you do for the New York Yankees. I’ve slowly begun to venture into people’s stories, and some of them are fascinating.
Fans will know that superstar Aaron Judge is adopted, which makes his personal life quite inspiring. Severino came from a poor neighbourhood and could throw 100 mph. Gary Sanchez was a young father, struggling to make it in the minor leagues before his hard work gave him behind the Stadium plate. My favourite back story in the entire book was Clint Frazier.
At no time have I ever hopped into the massive debate on whether or not the Yankees should keep or trade Red Thunder. I am very indifferent to his play on the field, he won’t be the reason we win, and he won’t be the reason we lose. He is, however, an extraordinary human being. Fraizer grew up on the farm and saw firsthand his parent’s struggle, so the first thing he did with his signing bonus money was to buy them a new truck for the farm. Out of seriousness, from all the backstories I’ve read so far, Frazier’s is one I’ll never forget. That has to be one of the most unselfish things a son can do for their parents. Sure these things happen in basketball and football, which the media is always on hand to plaster all over Sportscenter every draft season. I never heard this story, and it wasn’t posted on every social media platform to showcase the lifestyles of the rich and famous. That’s what made this story so memorable. It felt natural and genuine.
As the book builds up to the 2017 season, we see how all the planning and training paid off. The Bronx Bombers were not supposed to be there, one of the final four teams left standing at the end of it all. They were “rebuilding,” and the book details almost every game of the season that showed the Pinstripes were back and ready to contend. Experience the highs and lows as the young kids learn the ropes and surprise even the most knowledgeable pundits.
The Yankees came to a few outs away from advancing to the 2017 World Series, all on the power of Judge’s bat, Severino’s arm, and Sanchez calling the pitches. The pieces were coming together faster than anyone could ever imagine, and the results were better than they were supposed to be.
It took me most of the baseball season to pick up this page-turner. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. This Baby Bombers book was a great link from the past to the present. Any fan of the current team can relive all the moments that got us to where we are in 2020 and 2021.