Nick Swisher looks back fondly on first return to the Bronx
On Monday, when the Yankees came to bat in the bottom of the first inning of the series opener with Cleveland, Swisher took the field at first base for the Indian and promptly heard something he had heard every day for four years while manning right field for the Bombers.
“YOOOOOOOOO, SWISH-ER!” screamed the leader of the crew out in Section 203, “Bald Vinny” Milano, before the Bleacher Creatures gave Swisher the roll call usually reserved for those in pinstripes.
“Oh man, it was great, it felt a little bit like old times again,” Swisher told MLB.com on Tuesday. “This place has been so amazing to me, I couldn’t thank (the fans) enough, and I’m blessed that I had the opportunity to do it.”
In kind, Swisher responded the same way he had from 2009-12: by turning and giving the right field faithful the “Swisher Salute,” an acknowledgement born from a legacy started by Johnny Damon years ago.
“I always kind of thought that the roll call had to be a signature move; most guys who have been here for a while just turn and do a little wave, but us outfield guys had to do something funky,” Swisher said. “Johnny had his little thing, Gardy (Brett Gardner) still flexes it up…you have to have something man, because that’s a unique thing, there’s only one ballpark in America that does (roll call) and it’s right here.”
Even though that’s his signature move, Swisher wasn’t the first to give the salute on Monday. Lyle Overbay, making his first-ever start in right field, gave the Creatures his own version in the top of the first, complete with a “Lyle Smile” – and Swisher jocularly responded to that once the series was over.
“He can’t steal my thing dude!” Swisher laughed, adding, “I’m sure some guys over there told him to do it. It’s all good.”
The good news for Swisher? Overbay admitted that his supposition was correct.
“It was all these guys, they made me do it,” Overbay said. “No disrespect, they just thought it would be fun so I obliged to their request.”
The bad news for Swisher is that he went 0-for-11 with two walks in the series and his new team got swept, but he admitted that he’ll never forget this return to New York for all the right reasons.
“My experience here was awesome, other than the games,” Swisher said. “Just to see everyone I haven’t seen in such a long time was great. This place was so amazing to me, and to be able to come back and relive that – because we only get to do it once a year – that was so great.”
And, he had one last bit of love for the beloved die-hards in Section 203.
“(The Bleacher Creatures) were so awesome to me the four years I was here, and they’re still awesome to me; I can’t thank them enough,” Swisher gushed. “New York was so amazing to me, and it pretty much put me on the map. Just to be able to live that Yankee lifestyle and be part of a World Series squad, I could not be more honored to have done it, and coming back here is always a pleasure.”
You can check out video of Swisher’s Monday roll call below, courtesy of MLB.com.