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New Yankees excited for their first roll calls

04/01/2013 8:44 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Kevin Youkilis drew a large cheer from the Bleacher Creatures during roll call on Opening Day. (Kathy Willens/AP)
Opening Day at Yankee Stadium means a new season not only for the players, but also for the die-hard fans in Section 203 who perform "Roll Call" after the first pitch of every game.

It's an experience that's unique to the Yankees, and in 2013, the "Bleacher Creatures" have a handful of new names to add to that roll; Vernon Wells and Kevin Youkilis got their first experience on Monday, and Lyle Overbay, Brennan Boesch, Ben Francisco, and perhaps even Travis Hafner have the chance to get their names chanted by the faithful behind the right field wall.

Over the years, many Yankees have personalized their roll call responses. Brett Gardner does a double muscle pose a la Hulk Hogan, Curtis Granderson does a little hop-step and wave, and ex-Yankee Nick Swisher became famous for his "Swisher Salute." So as the season progresses, the question is this: how will those newcomers react to "Bald Vinny" Milano and the gang chanting their names?

For Youkilis, who spent nearly a decade earning the derision of the Bleacher Creatures while with the Red Sox, the daily roll is something he relishes the chance to experience from the other side.

"We had roll call at Army, you know," Youkilis said before the game. "But this is the big one, and it's cool. I've always thought it's a great tradition they have here, and it's very special. It's unique and no other ballpark does it, so I'm proud to be a part of it."

Youkilis was caught in the midst of some action as the Bleacher Creatures chanted for him in the Opening Day roll call. His position at first base came up right as Jacoby Ellsbury popped out to shortstop for the first out. When he finally was able to acknowledge the Creatures after a few seconds, Youk gave them a lengthy tip of the cap, which earned him a large cheer.

That slow tip of the cap was the same salute given by left fielder Vernon Wells, who admitted prior to the game that he didn't know what he was going to do, but he was just very excited to do it.

"I don't know yet; whatever comes naturally I'll do it," Wells said. "But I want to take it in, that's the biggest thing, so maybe I'll listen to it a few times and let it soak in before I respond."

Wells did just that, waiting a moment before tipping his cap to a right field crowd that he later admitted was, despite how it may have seemed on the surface, actually a group of friendly rivals.

"I've always had a great relationship with (the Bleacher Creatures) actually, because I'd play along with them," Wells said. "We'd go back and forth, and by the end of the game it was like, 'Hey Vernon, we'll see you tomorrow.' It was fun, and that's what this game is all about."

That said, he's still happier to be on the right side of roll call. He may eventually add a personal salute like Gardner or Granderson.

"I'm going to be hearing a lot more kind words instead of words I can't repeat, so I'm looking forward to it," Wells said. "As time goes on and we get more familiar and get to know each other, maybe I'll become a little more personal with it."

Lyle Overbay is one of the newcomers who didn't get the chance to soak in a roll call on Opening Day, as he didn't enter the game until pinch-hitting for Jayson Nix in the sixth inning. Overbay will likely get that experience for the first time when the Yankees and Red Sox meet again Wednesday, and he admitted that it might overwhelm him at first.

"I think I'll be like, 'whoa, what's going on here?' at first, then it'll sink in," Overbay said. "I've always enjoyed listening to it when I've been here; it's a cool tradition, and one I look forward to being part of." As for how he'll respond?

"I'll probably soak it in," Overbay said. "I'm not going to make them chant forever, but I want to (let them chant) a couple times so I can soak it in, because it's going to be very cool."

Brennan Boesch was of the same mindset as Wells, saying that he'll figure out his roll call response when the time comes.

"I haven't really thought about it," Boesch said. "Maybe just a nod or wave or something, but I don't have anything crazy in mind. No Swisher Salute or anything." Then again, as both Boesch and Overbay can certainly attest to, a lot can change in a hurry, so don't be surprised if you see a "Boesch Bow" or something of the like when he makes his first start at the Stadium.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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