Yankees Fan Feature Friday: Zach Releford

It's Fan Feature Friday! This week, I'd like to introduce Zach Releford. Zach recounts a moment in time no 90's Yanks kid will soon forget. It was the "Curse of the Boonebino."

Meet Zach Releford

When did you first become a Yankees fan? How old were you? What year was it? How did it come about?

I've been a Yankees fan for as long as I can remember. My dad was a huge fan and even though we lived in Colorado I never latched onto the Rockies the way I did the Yankees. My first live game was in 1993 (6 years old at the time) when my family took a road trip to Kansas City to watch them, and throughout the 90s and 2000s we took multiple trips throughout the country to watch them play. I still take trips myself to see them once every year.

Who is your favorite player of all-time? 

The Bern. Bernie Williams. I loved his playing style and he always seemed to hit a big home run whenever I was watching a game with my dad. He had a lot of clutch hits over the years and he was a great leader for the 90s dynasty.

Who is your favorite most underrated player? 

My favorite underrated player is Jeff Nelson. The bullpen was a huge part of the 90s dynasty and even though most of the credit goes to Rivera, Nelson would always get the big outs and get through tough parts of the lineup to set him up. Nelson also happened to be the man on the mound when the Yankees clinched the American League East in 1996. He went on to pitch 4.1 scoreless innings in three games of the World Series against the Texas Rangers that year.

What is your most memorable moment as a fan?

The Curse of the Boombino. During Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Aaron Boone blasted a walk-off homerun in the 11th inning, off of Tim Wakefield to give the Yankees the 6–5 victory over the Boston Red Sox, thus extending the "Curse of the Bambino." The New York Daily News dubbed Boone's walk-off the "Curse of the Boonebino".

It was such a hard-fought series and I had developed a genuine dislike for the Red Sox. The Yankees looked dead in the water, but they fought back to tie it. When Boone's homer left the bat, my entire family went ballistic!

What would you like to see in the 2023 season? 

I'd like to see the team be less reliant on analytics and find a way to curb the strikeouts by making contact and finding ways to get on base. The hallmark of the dynasty championship teams was that they would put pressure on the opposing team and wear the opposing pitchers down by grinding out at-bats.

If you could sit down with any former Yankees player, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you talk about?

I would sit down with "the Mick" Mickey Mantle. The world was so much different in the 50s and 60s, and I'd like to understand what kind of lifestyle the big-name players lived back then when salaries weren't as high as they are now and there was no such thing as social media.

"Well, baseball was my whole life. Nothing's ever been as fun as baseball." - Mickey Mantle to the New York Times (February 5, 1988)

Me too, Mick. Me, too.


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Jonna M. Perlinger