It's Fan Feature Friday, and this week, I'd like to introduce you to Scot Burkholder.
Scot grew up in Jersey in the 80's making big trips to the city to watch his beloved Yankees with his dad. Today, he enjoys passing that tradition on and sharing those memories with his own children.
Meet Scot Burkholder...
When did you first become a Yankees fan? How old were you? What year was it? How did it come about?
I have been a Yankees fan ever since I can remember. Although I grew up watching games on WPIX with Scooter announcing, my first and most vivid Yankees memory was when I was in elementary school in the early 80's and went to the old Yankee stadium for the first time. I went with my dad on a work-outing to a mid-week night game in the Bronx. We had to take the train from Jersey and the subway. It was such a memorable night filled with new and crazy experiences (to a kid). I rode the subway for the first time, one of my dad's work buddies got "lost" at some point in the evening, which I later learned was booze-related, the Yankees won, and still, the biggest take away for me was the way the old stadium looked coming out of the narrow tunnels from the bleachers entrance of the old building. I remember my dad—who is no longer with us—looking at me more than the field throughout the game. From that night on, I was hooked. We started attending games regularly after that, although, my mother and the family would accompany us. I'm pretty sure my mother had some questions about the fun we had on the trip with his buddies.
Who is your favorite player of all-time?
Easy. Donnie Baseball. I'm tempted to say Jeter or Mo because of who they were to the dynasty teams when I was in college, but even in your 40's, you never forget your first favorite ballplayer. I met Jeter late in the 1995 season and the feeling of watching him as a hyped kid starting out to becoming an all-time Yankee legend was really awesome. Growing up in the 80's, Rickie, Dave Winfield, Pags, Balboni were all memorable guys on those teams I grew up on, but Donnie just looked like he was made to play ball. The swing, hitting them over the porch, the 'stache, diving for balls...I wanted to be just like him, even though I was a righty. For years, people would ask why I wore #23 for every sport, and most assumed it was for Michael Jordan. For me, #23 was always, and still is, Mattingly.
Who is your favorite most underrated player?
For me, it is Bernie Williams. Bernie was a key ingredient to those dynasty years. He had so many critical hits, home runs, and great plays in center. He was a player and is a guy with so much class. I know he is seen as a great player, but as the years move on from those who watched those teams live, it always seems the press and younger generation of fans want to highlight the core four, and seem to neglect Bernie.
What is your most memorable moment as a fan?
Besides those childhood memories, I have three Yankee memories that will always be put above all others. Chronologically, the first was the 1996 championship. That playoff run meant so much after so many heartache moments as a fan, including Donnie being eliminated the previous year in 1995.
Having been born in 1977, the late 70's championships were discussed in our house, but I was too young to fully appreciate those years. Most of my early memories (the 80's), we came up short. In 1996, I was a college student at WVU. Some friends and I were at the WVU-Miami game the night they won. We taped the game on an old VHS thinking we would watch it from the beginning when we got home that night, however, my roommates (all Jersey-native diehard Yankees) and I had to tune in live to see what was happening. We turned it on just one pitch before the pop up outside of third to end it. I'll never forget that feeling standing there with my childhood buddies experiencing one of those World Series Championships for the first time.
My second most memorable moment was Game 5 of the 2001 ALDS. We had tickets to Game 5, and after losing the first two, it wasn't looking too positive. This was also roughly a month after the 9/11 attacks, and the city still had a raw feeling, desperately hoping for a reason to smile again. Coincidentally, Game 5 also fell on my birthday, and I was once again watching with those same buddies I grew up with and witnessed that first 96 Championship with. It was such a coming together moment for the whole city. It felt like so much more than a baseball game. It was a feeling I will never forget.
Lastly, and the best of all, is being able to share in my kids' first experiences seeing the city, the stadium, and the Yankees up close through their eyes. It is such a full circle, amazing, experience. I know how they are feeling because it is the same way I felt when I experienced my first game with my dad.
What would you like to see in the 2023 season?
I would like to see the Yankees return to finding a core of players who are well-rounded at the plate. The dynasty teams didn't lead the league in home runs every year. They had guys who moved runners over, worked the count, and tried to create rallies which put pressure on the opposing pitcher. Our pitching was better than expected this year, and with some guys coming back from injuries, I think things look positive. We need to find more DJLM's. Whether we go out and sign them or allow our farm to develop. We struggle in the playoffs because we live and die by the home run. We're either winning by 10 or losing by 2 or 3 hits. Every year. Enough. We need more well-rounded players, especially if they are changing the shift rules.
If you could sit down with any former Yankees player, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you talk about?
This is probably too much of a chalk answer, but for me it would be Mickey Mantle. My dad and my best friend's dad (who was also at the Game 5 in 2001 with us) always talked about those golden era Yankees, especially Mickey. Years later we also started hearing about all of the fun they had off the field as well. The Mick may have denied any claims of being a role model, but man would I like to sit down with him and hear some of the stories of those teams that didn't make the Yankeeography's. I would also love to sit down with Billy Martin and ask him about his conversations with the Boss.
"To play eighteen years in Yankee Stadium is the best thing that could ever happen to a ballplayer." - Mickey Mantle
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