Meeting the BamTino

A few weeks ago, StubHub announced a free signing with former Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez at their NYC location. I was fortunate enough to grow up during the Yankees last dynasty (World Champs in 1996; 1998-2000 plus a World Series appearance in 2001). There’s no question that the BamTino was a huge reason for New York’s success in the late 90s and was one of my favorite Yankees growing up.

Martinez has two legendary moments from the Yankees last run:

A go-ahead Grand Slam in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series and…

A game-tying, 2 out, 2-run HR in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series.

He also returned to the Yankees in 2005 and memorably hit 5 home runs in 5 straight games (and later 8 HR in 8 games). Martinez even has a plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.

The downside to this signing was the time. It was scheduled from 5:00 – 6:30 PM with wristband distribution beginning at 10:00 AM. I decided to take the gamble that wristbands would be available later in the day and, thankfully, they had a little less than 30 wristbands left just before noon. One of the employees at the store warned me that no one was guaranteed to meet Martinez past 6:30, a similar line I’ve heard at other StubHub signings.

Fast-forward to 6 PM. I hauled ass to W39th and Broadway and didn’t see a line of people outside the store. I walked in and saw just three people waiting near the staircase but, as it turns out, they were “standbys” (people who didn’t obtain wristbands). An employee told me to head right downstairs as I had a wristband.

I entered the room and was relieved to see only ~15 people in front of me. I observed plenty of people getting extras, including someone who got a bat/ball/8×10 signed. I realized I had a ball at home signed by Tim Raines and Wade Boggs (’96 Yankees) and could’ve brought that to get signed but oh well. The ball is hardly a priority for me and isn’t a project I’m actively working on.

Anyways, I waited for less than 10 minutes (the standbys would quickly join me in line) before it was my turn. Martinez saw me coming and joked, “Ah all the big guys are coming now” and proceeded to stand for our photo op, which I greatly appreciated as he remained seated for shorter people. I thanked him for standing and he said, “No problem at all” and signed an 8×10. I thanked him for all the great memories he and the rest of those damn Yankees provided me. He said, “We were a good bunch of guys” and I told him it was a pleasure to grow up watching them. He responded, “Thanks man, that’s what we love to hear”

And that was that!


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