New York sports fans are sometimes hesitant to accept “outsiders” as one of their own. Specifically, Yankees fans.
There have been countless players who donned the Yankee pinstripes who have never been adopted by the fanbase: A-Rod, Line 1. Carl Pavano, anyone?
But on Nov. 13, 2008, a future Yankees fan favorite was born, when the effervescent, jubilant Nick Swisher found a home with New York; Brian Cashman acquired Swisher from the White Sox to start the 2009 campaign as the everyday first baseman.
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The signing of Mark Teixeira later in the winter somewhat deemed Swisher to be a spare part. Xavier Nady was named the starting right fielder for the Yankees out of spring training. Swisher would find himself in right field for the rest of the season after Nady was shelved with an elbow injury in April.
All that aside, Swisher was a massive part of the Yankees’ success in 2009.
Swisher got off to a torrid start in the Bronx, hitting .312 in April with seven home runs and an 1.144 OPS. It was especially poignant considering Teixeira’s rough April: He hit .200 with just three home runs in 19 games.
As far as the players the Yankees traded for Swisher?
— Jeff Marquez, a pitcher, appeared in just four games for the White Sox between 2010 and 2011, posting a 5.40 ERA. Marquez currently is a member of Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican Baseball League.
— Jhonny Nunez, another pitcher, threw seven games for the White Sox in 2009. He posted a 9.53 ERA with a 2.118 WHIP.
— Also part of the package was well-traveled utility man Wilson Betemit: Betemit would play in 20 games for the White Sox before being designated for assignment in June ’09. He hit .200 and played to a 53 OPS+ that year.
It’s not to say that any of these players were franchise cornerstones or future stars, because they weren’t. But Swisher’s tenure with the Yankees would be eventful, if nothing else.
It can’t really be understated how Swisher took the Yankee fanbase by storm. His excited-puppy demeanor toward fans and teammates combined with a bulldog-competitive mentality endeared him to Yankees fans — so much that it earned him a standing ovation in his first game back in Yankee Stadium after leaving following the 2012 season.
It’s equally impressive considering Swisher was never “one of their own.” As in, not a homegrown Yankee. Other former Yankees haven’t always been as fortunate.
While Swisher’s postseason performance in 2009 (and every other year) left something to be desired — hitting .128 in 47 plate appearances en route to the first Bronx Bombers’ World Series win since 2000 — his personality was instrumental to lightening the mood of a traditionally serious, buttoned-up Yankee clubhouse.
But just because Swisher departed in 2013 doesn’t mean he stopped giving back to the Yankees.
Since Swisher decided to return to his “Brohio” roots, signing with the Indians before the 2013 campaign, the Yankees received a compensation pick for the 2013 MLB draft. That pick was used to select Aaron Judge. The rest, as they say, is history.
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All in all, Swisher was a pretty good Yankee. In four seasons with the Bombers, he mashed 105 home runs, marked a 124 OPS+ and was insanely durable: He played in 598 of a possible 648 games (he played in 150 games in three of four seasons, and 148 in the remaining season).
Suffice to say, it was a trade that worked out pretty well for the Yankees, bro.