Yankees Nick Swisher: “I Don’t Want To Be Here” (Moosic, PA)
The Yankees found themselves with no choice but to release Nick Swisher from a minor league contract they had signed him to early last summer. A free agent now, he has yet to find a job with another team, and it is unlikely that he will. Here’s a glimpse into what it’s like for a man who cannot find his way out from a game he loves.
Former Yankees outfielder and first baseman, Nick Swisher, spoke those words to a reporter from the New York Post in a story that was postmarked Moosic, Pa.
It was the day that Swisher had just heard the news that Rob Refsnyder was being promoted from the Yankees AAA Scranton team to join the big club, leaving Swisher behind. Swisher rationalized his disappointment by saying, “I guess I just picked the wrong time to have a bad month.”
Nick Swisher believes he can still hit a baseball with authority. Maybe he can; maybe he can’t. But that’s not the story here. Because this is one of those baseball stories that grips you with intensity, because it’s a human interest story about a man who cannot walk away from a game he has played since he was six years old, a game he loves perhaps a little too much.
Because just this morning, I found myself writing a story about Mike Mussina, who walked away only a month after he had his first 20-game win season and never looked back. But for Nick Swisher, he still has dreams, and you can hear him in those dreams:
"“I know I have the whole fan base, the whole city behind me,” Swisher said. “I’m not doing it for the money. I just want to be on that field and hear that crowd again.”"
I can recall a time in 2007 when I saw a game at the Oakland Coliseum when Swisher was playing his last season with the A’s. And I kept looking over at the first base dugout during batting practice because there was one guy who, between every turn in the cage, would run over signing autographs for fans, posing for pictures, and chatting up a storm. That was Nick Swisher, the man who never stopped smiling when he was on the ballfield.
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He would spend four years playing for the Yankees, hitting 105 home runs and earning a World Series ring with the team in 2009. They were the glory years of his career, and he remembers well the times he revved up the fans in the bleachers for their traditional “Roll Call.”
He remembers it all. He wants more. But he’s not doing it for the money, heavens no. He could have stayed home last year collecting $20,000,000 from the Indians and Braves. He chose not to, and he sits at home now waiting for the phone to ring with a call from a team willing to take a chance, almost any chance.
Former Yankees hurler, Jim Bouton, closed one of his books with this sentence (paraphrasing), “You spend nearly all your life gripping a baseball, and then you realize it was the other way around” (because the ball was gripping you).
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Nick Swisher, god, love him and all Yankees fans do, needs (perhaps) to take a step back and smell the roses on other facets of his life, because the ball is apparently gripping him. When he played in the minors last season, his wife was home with their three-year-old, and she was expecting another child. We wish you the best, Nick. But, it’s time to move on.