After the Yankees trade for or sign a new player, fans often subject the new arrival to a trial period, during which they decide whether or not to embrace the new guy as a Yankee who belongs in the Bronx. The trial period can be especially tough for big names and guys with strong ties to a different team.
But every now and then, a new player will win over the fanbase very quickly and the new player seemingly becomes a true Yankee overnight. This has been the case with Anthony Rizzo. He joined the team just one week ago, and already Rizzo has made a big impression on fans. In his first seven games as a Yankee, Rizzo is hitting .333/.452 /.708 with three home runs and six RBI.
At first base he’s turned a number of would-be throwing errors into outs, and his power as a lefty is tailor-made for Yankee Stadium. No wonder Rizzo has won over Yankees fans in a matter of a few days. Helping the team win and having a gregarious personality is the quickest way into Yankees fans’ hearts, and Rizzo is doing both. Rizzo’s ability to win over the New York fanbase is also notable because he has been a mainstay on the Cubs for nearly a decade. He was beloved in Chicago, and it seemed like the Chicago Cubs were a big part of his identity.
There are other examples of newly-acquired Yankees who connected with the fanbase right away. Let’s take a look at past Yankees who were embraced in the Bronx not long after being signed by, or traded to the team.
After the first half of the 2017 season, the Yankees needed better defense at third base and the benefit of another veteran presence whom the Baby Bombers could emulate. It didn’t take long for fans to embrace Todd Frazier after the Yankees traded for him and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, who all came from the White Sox. He connected with Yankees fans right away, and the infectious energy, local Jersey boy persona he brought to the Yankees clubhouse were a perfect fit for the team (fans also loved his photo as a Little League World Series winner standing next to Derek Jeter).
Despite his initial underperformance—he grounded into a triple play in his first at-bat in pinstripes—Frazier played an instrumental role in building the team camaraderie and rapport that defined the 2017 Yankees. The thumbs-down gesture he started continues to live on in memes and Yankees iconography.
After signing a $155 million, seven-year deal, many Yankees fans speculated whether Masahiro Tanaka was cut out for New York. Would he pitch as well in the Bronx as he did in Japan? Following his first press conference at Yankee Stadium, Tanaka left little doubt that he had all the qualities befitting a true Yankee. New York baseball writers described his demeanor as regal and remarked on how he carried himself with the confidence of a true ace.
He arrived in New York from Japan in a chartered Boeing 787—the kind of pageantry the Yankees love. More importantly? Tanaka lived up to the hype. By May of the 2014 season, Tanaka had already picked up his eighth win and was quickly establishing himself as ace of the Yankees’ pitching staff. Fans fell in love with the fierce intensity he displayed on the mound and his desire to pitch in high-stakes situations.
Swisher came to New York in 2009 via a trade for bench player Wilson Betemit and minor-leaguers Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez. At the time, the move was largely overshadowed by the Yankees’ signings of free agents CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira. Swish brought some levity to what many regarded as an overly-formal clubhouse. He took great joy in engaging the Yankees’ fanbase and used social media as a platform to connect with fans long before it was common for social media to be used in that way. Unsurprisingly, Swisher was especially fond of Yankees fans’ enthusiasm and brash attitude. Playing in right field, he shared a special relationship with the Yankee Stadium Bleacher Creatures, and fans even started a grassroots campaign to send Swisher to the All-Star Game by creating the website voteswisher.com.