A simple game of pick-up basketball by Aaron Boone led the Yankees to acquire one of the greatest players of our generation, Alex Rodriguez.
It is astounding how a simple pick-up basketball game changed the outcome of Yankees history. Imagine if Aaron Boone decided not to play a quick basketball game in the offseason after the 2003 season. The 2003 ALCS hero would have come back to the Yankees for the upcoming season with an intact ACL. If Boone decided to work out a different way, then Alex Rodriguez would not have been acquired.
However, the Yankees current manager is not a genie. There was absolutely no way that he could have known he was going to get hurt on the courts in Newport Beach, California. Sadly, deciding to play a game of basketball that day ended his playing career in pinstripes indefinitely.
In fact, Boone was with his trainer that day and did not do his routine of cardio prior to playing the pick-up game. This career-altering moment plays off in his brain routinely.
The Yankees manager was catching a pass from his teammate on the court and an opponent wiped him out on his side in a violent manner. Boone, who disobeyed the terms of his contract with the Yankees by playing basketball, knew that this injury was serious.
Boone was eventually released by the Bombers fourteen days after the incident and ended up missing the entirety of the 2004 season. After recovering from the gruesome injury, he ended up playing five more years with four different clubs. The Yankees knew that they were going to have to go out and get a third baseman after losing Boone, so Brian Cashman took initiative and conducted arguably the biggest trade in franchise history by acquiring Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers.
Rodriguez ended up having a successful, yet controversial career with New York. Despite getting popped for steroids twice in pinstripes, Rodriguez was still a top performer in the MLB.
The Yankees would not have won the 2009 World Series without him. He batted .365, hit six dingers, and drove in 18 runs during the postseason that year. Rodriguez also hit home run number 600 in pinstripes, becoming only the eighth player in baseball history to do so. He ended up having two MVP seasons in the Bronx, too. In 2005, he batted .321, hit 48 homers, and drove in 130 RBI. It was an impeccable year for Rodriguez, especially when he just edged out former rival David Ortiz.
In 2007, he put up even bigger numbers. Going into the 2007 season, the Yanks discussed with Rodriguez about changing his attitude. Because of that, he put together arguably his greatest statistical season. He hit .314, with 54 home runs, 156 runs driven in, and a slugging percentage of .645. Finally, one of the greatest memories of Rodriguez in pinstripes was when he took Ryan Dempster deep in 2013 after getting hit in the back the at-bat prior. All night he was hearing it from the Red Sox fans, calling him a cheater and PED user. He did not let the fans get to him, and ended up having one of his best games as a member of the New York Yankees.
To this day, Boone does not regret playing in that pick-up game. The reason is if that incident never occurred, who knows if he would be managing the greatest sports franchise in history today. Although he ended up tarnishing his career in pinstripes, the Yankees and their fan base will always remember Boone’s heroic walk-off home run off of Tim Wakefield to send them to the 2003 World Series.