When Gerrit Cole was 11 years old, he traveled with his family from their home in Southern California to Phoenix for Games 6 and 7 of the World Series. Cole, though raised in Orange County, was brought up as a Yankees fan by his Syracuse-born father and showed up at Game 6 wearing a Yankees hat and pinstriped jersey.
Newark Star-Ledger photographer William Perlman snapped a photo of the young Cole leaning out over the wall with a sign that read “Yankee Fan Today, Tomorrow, Forever.”
Now Cole is more than a Yankee fan. He’s a Yankee player, having signed the richest deal ever for a major league pitcher (nine-year, $324 million). At his introductory press conference on Wednesday, Cole brought out that very same sign.
“I’d just like to say: I’m here, I’ve always been here,” Cole said.
Though the sign’s color has faded over time, you can tell it’s the same one from 2001 by the shape and spacing of the letters.
This close-up photo from Yankees radio analyst Suzyn Waldman shows just how much the sign has aged over the years.
Cole told Bob Lorenz and Jack Curry on the YES Network after the press conference that the sign had been stashed in his closet at his parents’ house and that his father brought it over when the family had a dinner to celebrate Cole’s new contract.
If we had known Cole saved the sign, we probably could have guessed he was going to the Yankees.