My encounter with Aaron Boone, before he was Yankees manager

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 20: (L-R) Former New York Yankees Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone walk onto the field to throw out the cermonial first pitch prior to the Yankees playing against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 20, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 20: (L-R) Former New York Yankees Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone walk onto the field to throw out the cermonial first pitch prior to the Yankees playing against the Texas Rangers in Game Five of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 20, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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Long before he was named manager of the Yankees, our site expert Mike Calendrillo, had an interaction with Aaron Boone that left quite the impression.

I have a funny story about the new Yankees skipper. I was walking around an outdoor mall in Century City, Los Angeles, a short time after Aaron Boone began his work on ESPN as a baseball analyst.

As I people-watched, because that’s what you do in LA, I noticed a familiar face sitting at a table with a woman and two children, on the patio of a semi-swanky Italian restaurant.

You guessed it, it was Aaron Boone. At first, I hesitated to go over and say something to the 2003 ALCS hero, I mean, the guy was waiting to enjoy a meal with his family.

But after a few moments of wrestling with my conscience, I gathered the nerve to approach him in the most gracious manner possible.

Of course, I started out by apologizing for interrupting his impending meal. As Boone stared at me, patiently waiting to hear what was about to come out of my mouth, I fanboyed, stating that I was a huge Yankees fan, originally from New York, and then detailed how his 2003 heroics off of Tim Wakefield was the first time I had ever seen my father cry tears of joy because of a baseball game — and how that moment would stick with me for the rest of my life.

A wry smile graced Boone’s face — his beautiful (understatement) wife smiled back.

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I then thanked him for giving me that moment in time. Boone responded, “Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate the kind words and I’m glad we could share that moment together.”

As I began to make my exit, I gave a kind of awkward bow before turning away. Just as I disappeared into the crowd of shoppers, Boone yelled, “Go Yankees.”

I smiled back and gave a big thumbs up like I was the Fonz (semi-embarrassed).

Little did I know, a few years later I’d have had a moment with the 35th manager in Yankees’ history.

Now just so we’re clear, I haven’t been pumping Boone up for the job, since it was first announced he’d be interviewed, solely because he was nice to me. I mean, sure, he could have told me to get lost. And to some extent, I would have understood.

Rather, watching Boone as part of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast, you were witness to his Albert Einstein-level baseball IQ. A student of the game, Boone comes from a long line of baseball professionals that understood the inner workings of a very difficult sport.

A charismatic leader that can relate to the entire 25-man roster is what the Yankees needed. One that has excelled in the biggest of moments while wearing the pinstripes.

I’m sure Hensley Muelens is an equally skilled tactician, but he never did the things Boonie did on the field. Even if Muelens did come with eight previous years of coaching, not managing experience, I’d put my money on a guy who’s proven his mettle on the biggest stage in sports before one that didn’t.

Next: Prospect Estevan Florial is for real

Whether it’s navigating the media, working with the front office or motivating a young roster, Aaron Boone was the correct choice to manage this club. If you don’t agree, that’s fine, but only time will tell which of us is correct. Let’s hope it’s me.