The N.Y. Yankee
Brett Gardner, Class of 2005
photography by Mike Ledford
Fans call him BRETT THE JET because he can run from home to first in 3.9 seconds and is considered the fastest player in the entire New York Yankees organization. Brett Gardner ’05 represents a shift in baseball culture – a return to players defined by their athleticism, speed and grit on the field.
Gardner was not recruited out of his high school in Holly Hill, S.C. However, by the end of his first season as a walk- on at the College of Charleston, he had worked his way into the starting lineup. In his senior year, Gardner tied for the most hits in all of college baseball and had the third-best batting average in the country. But the essence of his game was speed.
The Yankees drafted him in the third round and he advanced steadily through the minor leagues. In the summer of 2008, he was called to the Big Apple, where his third big-league hit was a dramatic ninth-inning single (Yankees beat division rival Boston Red Sox). That same season, Gardner made history when he scored the final run in Yankee Stadium, for which he received a signed game ball from the entire team.
No stranger to adversity, Gardner’s philosophy is to live in the Now. When he goes to sleep at night, he knows that he has done everything he can to be ready for tomorrow. But he still savors one particular moment from Game Six of the World Series. He looks to one side of the infield at Mark Texiera and Robinson Cano, then to the other at Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Jorge Posada is behind the plate and Mariano Rivera is on the mound. The Yankees are two plays away from clinching the World Series. “That, by far, has been my best professional moment.”