Brendan Ryan remembers his first trip to New York as a major league ball player.
It was a nightmare.
As a rookie with the St. Louis Cardinals, Ryan hoped any attention that he received would be for his play on the field, not for a calamity of events trying to get to the ball park.
Ryan slept in that fateful morning, which would be just the beginning of his problems, with his day turning into into a real-life comedy.
A flustered Ryan hopped into a cab and told his driver to take him to Shea Stadium.
“We ended up a block from Yankee Stadium, and we’re in gridlock so I look up and I don’t even know what to think,” Ryan said. “I’m super panicked, and now we have to get over the bridge to make it there, I made it to the field five minutes, maybe, before stretch, which is unheard of.”
His teammates took exception to that, and with Ryan being in the majors for less than ten games, his teammates felt it was time for a reminder that rookies need to toe the line.
“I got my clothes frozen,” he said.
Slugger Albert Pujols graciously gave Ryan a shirt to wear home, but the rookie made the mistake of leaving his still frozen shirt on top of his fielding glove. By the next day the shirt had thawed, leaving his mitt soaking wet.
“A half-hour before game time when I first picked up my gamer, my glove was 25 pounds or more because it (the frozen shirt) thawed out into my glove. So I had to blow-dry my glove and I blew a fuse in the bathroom and we lost electricity in the clubhouse.”
That day, he went 3-4 with a walk, two runs, two RBI’s and an extra-innings go-ahead home run –his first as a major leaguer– to help the Cardinals get the win.
“It was a nightmare up until the game actually happened and maybe it all happened for a reason. But, you know, it’s a day I’ll never forget,” he said laughing.
Today, Ryan is wearing Yankee pinstripes. He was acquired from Seattle to help fill the void after Derek Jeter, the Yankees captain and every day shortstop, re-aggravated his ankle on Sept. 7.
On Wednesday night, Ryan doubled and scored on a Robinson Cano single, part of a four-run eighth inning that propelled New York to a come-from-behind, 4-3 win over Toronto.
He wasn’t brought across the country for his bat, however, as he hit a dismal .192 with the Mariners this season. But he does represent an upgrade in the field in lieu of the adventurous Eduardo Nunez, who has committed 12 errors in just 74 games while playing shortstop this season.
However, since Ryan was acquired after August 31, he’s not eligible to play in the postseason, should the Yankees make it that far.
His sole purpose is to help the Bronx bombers make it to the playoffs.
Following the season he’s set to hit free agency, but Ryan is focused on enjoining his time in New York.
“It stinks that it’s going to be so brief but I’m just trying to live it up as much as I can because not too many people get to call themselves a Yankee, so it’s been an awesome and fun change of pace.”
A week ago, Ryan was a member of the Seattle Mariners, a club that hasn’t seen October baseball since 2001, and isn’t making any strides.
For now, he’s still trying to take in the atmosphere around him: a room full of veterans hungry for the postseason.
“It was so out of nowhere, to get a crazy, awesome, opportunity to play for a storied franchise like this one.
“I kind of got blindsided by it, but I couldn’t be more ecstatic about the opportunity,” he said. “I was very humbled to be called upon to kind of fill in here and just very blessed to get this opportunity.
“A team that goes out of your way to get you, that feels awesome in itself. But then to be in a playoff race, right in the thick of things, is even better.”
For the next month at least, Ryan won’t be making trips to New York, he’ll be living there.
But his cab will take him to work every day in hopes that he can aid his team to the playoffs for an 18th time in the last 20 years, even if it means continuing without him, and he’s completely OK with that, as long as he doesn’t get lost on his way to the ballpark.
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