KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin stayed on the plane, as did most players.
Austin Romine was an exception, doing his best to grab some shut-eye in a cushioned chair in a lounge near the gate.
But pretty much all in the Yankees traveling party, stranded at Dulles International Airport in Virginia Wednesday night, felt similarly.
It could have been worse and, in fact, in their lives in the minor leagues, they had experienced worse.
“I’ve sat on a bus for 14 hours going from Charleston to Lakewood [New Jersey],” Judge said Friday afternoon of his days with the Class-A Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League. “I really didn’t think much of it. I had a seat to myself, had plenty of leg room. I was fine.”
Austin also played with Charleston. “I’ve definitely had some worst trips than that,” he laughed. “Trying to sleep on a bus and driving all night as opposed to not moving and being on a plane. It [Wednesday night] wasn’t the worst thing.”
The Yankees’ Delta flight was supposed to take off to Kansas City from Dulles at about 10 Wednesday night after the team’s suspended and regularly scheduled games against the Nationals were postponed by rain. The traveling party of roughly 60 arrived at the airport a little after 9, and general manager Brian Cashman said “a perfect storm” of circumstances conspired to keep them there.
There was an initial engine problem with the airplane and difficulty locating a replacement. There continued to be storms in the DC area, and aviation regulations that limit how many hours a crew can work in a single shift — in this case the pilot’s was the main issue — came into play.
Area hotels were at or near capacity Wednesday night and, despite a slew of calls made by traveling secretary Ben Tuliebitz, rooms could not be found, so Yankees players and staff hunkered down at the airport.
The vast majority of the group stayed on the plane, though some 12 individuals tried to get comfortable in a lounge area.
“Not a lot of sleep to be had,” said Austin, who estimated he got about an hour of sleep in a recliner. “Thank God we had an off day [Thursday]. If we would have had to play that night it would have been rough. But it’s nothing we’re not used to, going through the minors where [you might have] 14-hour bus rides. It’s all part of it. It keeps you humble.”
“It was a little bit different but there’s nothing you can do,” he said. “You just have to roll with it. You can’t get mad about it or get angry because that doesn’t make the circumstances any better.”
Austin reflected on the engine trouble.
“I’d rather find out the plane is messed up on the ground than in the air,” he said. “Big picture, obviously you don’t want that [sleeping at the airport] to happen, but happy we found out the plane was messed up before we took off.”
Aaron Boone, who said he got “six or seven hours” of sleep on the plane, was pleased with his team’s reaction.
“The best part about it was the way the guys handled it,” the manager said. “They were pros about it’ there wasn’t a lot of griping. I think the guys just kind of laughed it off. Proud of the way they handled it. The most important thing is we got here safe. We’re fortunate to have the day off on the back side of it. So hopefully it’s something we’ll look back on and laugh at.”