The day before he made his Yankee Stadium debut as a Yankee, Todd Frazier pitched to his 3-year-old son, Blake, in the backyard of his Toms River, New Jersey, residence. He helped his 1 1⁄2-year-old daughter, Kylie, play with her pretend makeup. He had spaghetti for dinner.
Home sweet home.
“Couldn’t be more happier,” said Frazier, who the Yankees acquired in a trade with the White Sox last week. “It’s a homecoming. It’s something that you can only dream of, and now it’s really truly happening.”
Frazier had played nine games at Yankee Stadium before last night — three with the White Sox last season and six with the Reds.
The Yankees defeated Cincinnati, 4-2, in their return from an 11-game road-trip. Frazier started at third base, and went 1-for-2 with a walk in the No. 7 hole. He walked up to Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” before grounding into a standard 6-6-3-3-5-6, run-scoring triple play in his first at-bat. “It’s funny to laugh about it now, but at the time, I was pretty upset,” Frazier said. “Brett Gardner was laughing at me. I think somebody asked for the ball so they could have it.”
Each time Frazier has returned to the Bronx, a strong contingent of family and friends from Toms River, his childhood and current hometown, has made the trip of about 80 miles to see him. He said he heard 500 to 600 people were coming to see him make his debut.
“To see all these people come out today, it’s truly an honor,” Frazier said. “I’m playing not only for myself and my family but for them as well.”
Frazier has struggled this year. The lifetime .246 hitter has a .205 average and just three hits in 18 at-bats (.167) as a Yankee. He has homered 16 times in 87 games, though that pace falls shy of his 40 homers in 158 games a year ago.
“From a statistical standpoint, he’s a lot better than what the numbers say this year,” said Reds manager Bryan Price, who overlapped with Frazier’s two All-Star seasons in 2014 and 2015.
Frazier said the trade was rejuvenating. The White Sox are 39-58 and 13 games behind American League central leader Cleveland after falling to the Cubs earlier yesterday. The Yankees are 52-46 and hold the AL’s first wild-card spot.
“It’s awesome,” Frazier said. “Your mind-set changes like that. It feels like day one again right after spring training.”
As a 12-year-old, Frazier’s Toms River team won the 1998 Little League World Series. He was the star shortstop and pitcher. The Yankees honored the team following the championship, and Frazier stood next to Derek Jeter for what has become a famous photograph around the majors. “That was one of my favorite pictures of all time,” Frazier’s former Reds teammate Billy Hamilton said.
Before yesterday’s game, Frazier contemplated what he would have done as a 12-year-old armed with the fact that one day he would return to that infield as a Yankee. “I’d probably try to write a story about it,” he said. “A 12-year-old trying to write the story, so I could keep it forever.”
Todd Frazier got off to an inauspicious start when he hit into a triple play in his first at-bat as a Yankee at the Stadium, but at least a run scored on the play. It was only the seventh run-scoring triple play in baseball history.
Yankees July 25, 2017
Mariners May 27, 2006
Royals June 3, 1977
Padres June 13, 1973
Orioles Sept. 10, 1964
Orioles June 23, 1954
Cubs April 30, 1937