11/06/09 7:15 PM EST
Yankees savor raucous celebration
Over three million turn out to salute World Series champs
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
If the gleaming keys to the city waiting to be picked up at City Hall weren't enough of an indication, a raucous parade for the ages should have put the message through in bold-faced type.
The Yankees own New York.
In double-decker buses and parade floats, the Bombers rolled through lower Manhattan celebrating the 27th World Series title the organization has thirsted for, waving wildly through the financial district on a chilly November morning.
"You feel like you're the president, you know?" Derek Jeter said. "You wish you could thank every single fan individually, but you can't. I know they know we appreciate it."
The Yankees carried the World Series trophy over Broadway from Battery Place to Chambers Street, where they were welcomed to the podium at City Hall by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for what he called "the biggest party in town."
"It's a really awesome spectacle," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Just to see the amount of people that are out there -- I was trying to explain to my son what three million people were. It's like 60 of our stadiums. It's mind-boggling."
Less than 48 hours after dispatching the Phillies and sending the five boroughs into ecstasy, the Yankees were ready to keep the energy flowing well into the winter.
"It's like nothing I ever saw before," Alex Rodriguez said. "We've waited a long time for this. I've never seen so many people collected in one place. The excitement, it just seemed like they were as hungry as we were. The fans really wanted this."
"Andy [Pettitte] told me that it was going to be a mob scene," CC Sabathia said. "It's amazing, the amount of people who are out there celebrating what we do. Look at all of the kids out of school today here. It's a great feeling."
The celebration may have been old hat for the remaining 'core four' from the Bombers' last championship team in 2000, but even those with a fifth World Series ring for the thumb couldn't play it cool to the jammed sidewalks flooding with Yankee love.
The roars were so loud, Jeter and Jorge Posada couldn't even hear each other from across their shared float. Jeter said it was like being at Yankee Stadium with two men out -- for an entire morning.
"They don't get old. It was amazing, to tell you the truth," Posada said. "So many people with Yankees stuff on. It was good to see. It was nice."
"It was up there," Mariano Rivera said. "It was wonderful, beautiful. The city of New York has great fans. You can't put it into words. It's magnificent."
The Yankees got a kick out of what greeted them along the parade route. Plenty of fans were already turning the clock ahead to 2010, urging Girardi to get the ball rolling on championship No. 28.
It was a cue they must have taken from George M. Steinbrenner himself, who told the skipper on Friday morning, reminding him that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in 96 days and to "be ready to defend it."
Mark Teixeira was stunned by what he called "a sea of heads" flooding every street the parade floats rolled by.
"That was really cool," Teixeira said. "You see 50,000 a night and obviously they're into it, but when you see millions of New Yorkers, it just makes you proud that you play for such a great city."
Johnny Damon even tried for a while to send every fan home with a souvenir of the parade, but realized that is far too much work for one man to accomplish.
"I can't believe people were trying to get autographs, because if you sign one, you've got to sign three million," Damon said. "I had to nip that in the bud right away."
The best thing Posada saw all morning, he said, was a poster that showed World Series MVP Hideki Matsui spanking a baby. The infant's superimposed face was none other than the Phillies' Pedro Martinez, whom the Bombers beat in Game 6.
"That one stuck in my head," Posada said, laughing.
Celebrities and dignitaries hitched a ride with the Bombers, ranging from Jay-Z to Rudy Giuliani, but there was one notable absence.
Jete in the elite
Reggie Jackson's thoughts were with the man who made him a Yankee three decades ago, allowing him to get his taste of what these younger players were feeling on a clear, sunny morning.
"You think about the Boss a lot. I wish he was here," Jackson said.
With Dad watching on from his Tampa, Fla., compound, Hal Steinbrenner was leading the ownership charge through the city blocks, and he said sharing the day with the Yankees' fans jogged his memory back to the last dynasty.
"After nine years, you forget," Steinbrenner said. "It's just incredible. A magical day, it's hard not to enjoy that. New York has the best fans in the world."
The youngest and newest Yankees may be spoiled by their sudden arrival on the city stage, greeted by the tolling bells of Trinity Church on a course map last used to fete the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
"I told them, 'You'll never see anything like this again,'" Jeter said. "I can't think of any parades like this. We were a part of the Thanksgiving Day parade a couple of years back, but it's not even close."
Should they come to expect this type of grand celebration every year -- well, that would be just fine with the Yankees.
"Awesome. Everybody tells you what it's like, and then you go through it," Joba Chamberlain said. "It was tremendous how many people came out and supported us all year, and then came out to celebrate that one with us."
"Everyone hanging out the windows, all the paper coming down, screaming -- it was crazy," Dave Robertson said. "I didn't think it would be this many people. I thought it'd be big, but I didn't think it would be this grand."
Nick Swisher said that he had to set his alarm clock for 6:30 in the morning, an unwelcome occurrence for any ballplayer. But this time, that bleary-eyed buzzer sounded great.
"Let's think about it," Swisher said. "It's not hard to wake up if you know someone's going to be cheering you all day."
For some, the end of the season still has not set in. The Yankees have gone through the process of hoisting the championship trophy over the infield at Yankee Stadium, bathed each other in hundreds of bottles of champagne, and now squinted into the sunlight amid a rain-shower of shredded paper.
Yet it won't be until these 2009 Yankees scatter to the winds for the winter that the finality will really become clear.
"It'll probably take two or three [days] to really think about what we accomplished here as a team," Rodriguez said. "I wish we could continue to just show up and play for no reason. No umpires, no scorers. Just show up and have fun."
There are probably about a million New Yorkers who would have absolutely no problem with that.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.