Before Todd Frazier debuted at Yankee Stadium as a Yankee Tuesday night, he frantically polled the clubhouse for suggestions.
Not about what to expect or how to secure tickets for the family and friends driving up from Toms River, New Jersey. Nothing like that. Frazier was most concerned with how to respond when the Bleacher Creatures’ roll call reached him at third base.
“I was the most nervous for that,” he said afterward. “I was asking everybody what to do.”
As tradition goes, fans in the rightfield bleachers begin chanting the Yankees’ fielders names after the first pitch, moving sequentially from one position to the next. The players then acknowledge the fans — some more creatively than others — in between pitches.
Frazier ultimately settled on a mini-squat, angling his body so he could point out to the rightfield bleachers and pretend to shoot a pistol a la Shooter McGavin from Adam Sandler’s 1996 film “Happy Gilmore.”
“I just gave the Shooter thing,” he said. “A couple guys liked it, so I guess I’ve got to go with that from now on.”
Frazier’s dilemma has been shared by many, though with varying amounts of anxiety.
When Tyler Wade made his first Yankee Stadium start on July 5 against Toronto, he forgot to prepare in advance. He said he knew about the tradition, but some time between his teammates telling him to be ready and first pitch, he forgot to think of a response.
He said he only remembered when the Bleacher Creatures chanted his name. So he improvised on the fly, turning to face the bleachers, pounding his chest with his right hand and pointing to the fans.
“I’m keeping that,” he said. “It’s simple for me.”
Chase Headley also chose the spontaneous route. When he started July 23, 2014, against Texas, Headley more or less waved toward the bleachers.
“I didn’t really plan it, and I did the first thing I thought of,” he said. “Once you do it a couple of times I feel like you have to stick with it. My wife makes fun of me about it, says it’s terrible, but at this point I don’t think it’s changing.”
The Yankees acquired 26-year-old first baseman Garrett Cooper from the Brewers during the All-Star break and opened the second half with an 11-game road trip. With Cincinnati starting a pair of righthanders in the Yankees’ first home series since the break, the righthanded-hitting Cooper began both games on the bench.
So he has had plenty of time to ponder his options.
“I’ll be a little more prepared than [Wade],” he said, laughing. “We’ll see how it goes when it happens.”
Brett Gardner’s flex consistently came up as the players’ favorite response. The 33-year-old outfielder said he could not take credit for the move, though.
“Johnny Damon, that’s what he told me he wanted me to do, so that’s what I did,” said Gardner, who made his first Yankee Stadium start on June 30, 2008. “I’ve just been doing it ever since. As long as I’m here, I’ll keep doing the same thing.”
Reds centerfielder Billy Hamilton said visiting players enjoy watching roll call from their dugout. Before Tuesday’s game, he said he was particularly excited to see Frazier’s move. As luck would have it, Hamilton had a long at-bat, enabling roll call to make its way to his former Reds teammate at third base.
The pitch after Frazier signaled toward the bleachers, Hamilton grounded out to him.
“I was thinking about it [Monday] night like what is he going to do when they yell his name because that’s one big thing here,” Hamilton said. “Everybody knows about Yankee Stadium roll call. You come here and know there’s going to be roll call.”