Wrigley's nice, but Girardi loves the stability with Yankees

Wrigley's nice, but Girardi loves the stability with Yankees
May 20, 2014, 6:30 pm
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Tony Andracki

"Stability" is not a word often thrown around with the job description for a big-league manager. Especially when it involves the New York Yankees.

But that's exactly how Girardi describes his tenure with the Yankees in the midst of his seventh season. The Peoria native graduated from Northwestern and got drafted by the Cubs, connections that again linked him to the job when Theo Epstein fired Dale Sveum. But Girardi ultimately chose to stay in New York.

"It was a place that we wanted to be," Girardi told a huge group of reporters in the visiting dugout at Wrigley Field. "It's a place we considered home. It's a place my kids considered home. So for us, it was just making sure the Yankees wanted us back.

"It worked out. It's not too often a manager gets to say 'I've spent 10 years in one city and I've raised my kids there.' That's really, really unusual. It gives stability to all of us and I like stability."

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In his return to Wrigley Field on Tuesday, Girardi looked at ease in front of the Chicago/New York media, even with a couple dozen cameras and microphones shoved in his face. He had no problem admitting if he didn't know the answer to a question and handled each inquiry with patience, showing why the Cubs felt he checked all the boxes for what they were looking for in a manager.

Even Derek Jeter's last trip to Wrigley, Alfonso Soriano's return or Masahiro Tanaka's first North Side appearance couldn't completely overshadow Girardi's week-long stop at home in Chicago. He will head to U.S. Cellular Field for a four-game set with the White Sox beginning Thursday.

"This is where I grew up, going to games as a kid, a college kid," Girardi said. "I played here. It's always nice to come back. I still have family and friends here.

"When you think about everything that's happened here [at Wrigley] - 100 years - it's special. ... The place looks great."

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Girardi looked back fondly on his time at Wrigley, where he spent seven years over two different stints. He said his happiest game at "The Friendly Confines" was his first game, on Opening Day in 1989.

But one day that will always stick with him is the day Darryl Kile passed away while the St. Louis Cardinals were in town. The Cardinals pitcher died unexpectedly in his hotel room on June 22, 2002. Kile was only 33 years old.

Girardi, a union rep, addressed the crowd on the field. Through tears, he said there would be no game that Saturday afternoon.

"That was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in the game," Girardi said. "It was harder than taking my uniform off, just because I couldn't imagine what his wife and children would go through, that day and for the rest of their lives.

"The game seemed pretty trivial. I know we played the next night, but I didn't think we should've played that night, either.

"The effect on the Cardinal players, his family, the front office and everyone involved. It was a strange day."