Mark Teixeira was set to join the Red Sox, as Boston’s response to a busy winter for rival Yankees who had committed more than $243 million to free agents CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett.
Teixeira and Boston seemed like the perfect marriage, a decade after the Red Sox selected the switch hitter in the ninth round of the Amateur Draft straight out of high school (although the slugger decided to go to college, before being drafted by the Rangers three years after). After a productive 2008 season that split Teixeira between the Braves and Angels, the first baseman was ready to spend the rest of his career at Fenway Park.
But… that never happened. Talks between the two sides stalled, prompting majority owner John Henry to announce that the Red Sox had dropped out of the Teixeira bid. To the surprise of few, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had been selling his team on the possibility, claiming that Teixeira was the “missing piece,” prompting club owner Hal Steinbrenner to agree to another big deal. .
Never mind that the Yankees already had a first baseman, having traded for Nick Swisher a few months prior. Cashman told Steinbrenner that he would address that, promising to move Xavier Nady’s $6.5 million contract and shift Swisher to right field. Nady sustained a season-ending injury to his right elbow in April, creating an opportunity for Swisher to become a fan favorite.
Teixeira, too, endeared himself to the Bronx crowds. Slotted into the No. 3 spot by manager Joe Girardi, Teixeira’s powerful swing from both sides of the plate offered balance to a stacked lineup, and his Gold Glove-caliber defense provided a noticeable upgrade over what had been provided by predecessor Jason Giambi.
“It felt like home,” Teixeira said. “When I was in Atlanta and LA, I didn’t know if I was going to be there forever, so I just kind of felt like I was passing through. You sign an eight-year contract, you’re in. Knowing I was going to spend the next eight years at this beautiful new stadium was a great feeling.”
After a slow start in April (Teixeira injured his left wrist during the second game of the regular season at Baltimore’s Camden Yards), Teixeira joined the fun in May, enjoying his most productive month of the regular season by batting .330 with 13 home runs and 34 RBIs.
From May 8 — when Alex Rodríguez returned to the lineup — through the end of the season, Teixeira batted .310 with 34 homers and 107 RBIs in 131 games, helping the Yankees go 88-43 over that span. His 43 doubles were the most by a Yanks first baseman since Don Mattingly had 53 in 1986.
“Would I have liked to get off to a better start? Yeah,” Teixeira said. “But then you hit 13 home runs in May and I’m in the best month of my career. Then it’s like, ‘All right, all good.’ The fact that we got off to a bad start as a team was more worrisome for me. I knew I was going to be fine.”
The Angels and Nationals were still in talks on the afternoon of Dec. 23, when agent Scott Boras approached the Yankees with a proposal — eight years, $180 million, no-trade clause and no exits from the pact. After weeks of receiving various “no’s” from the organization, Cashman finally convinced management to say yes.
“I knew if I didn’t go to the Yankees, I would always wonder what would have happened,” Teixeira said in 2018. “When you go to the best team, the club with the most history, there will never be any regrets. No offense to the rest of the 29 teams, but you never say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I never played for the Rays.’”
The Yankees already had a first baseman after acquiring Nick Swisher via trade months ago. Cashman told Steinbrenner he would work that out, promising to move Xavier Nady’s $6.5 million contract and move Swisher to right field. Nady suffered a season-ending right elbow injury in April, leaving the way open for Swisher.
Teixeira endeared himself to New York. Seized with the third spot in the lineup, awarded by manager Joe Girardi, Teixeira’s powerful swing from both sides of the plate offered balance to the lineup, along with his Gold Glove defense, offering a considerable improvement over his predecessor, Jason Giambi.
“I felt at home,” Teixeira mentioned. “When I was in Atlanta and Los Angeles, I didn’t know if I was going to be there forever, so I saw it as part of the journey. When you sign an eight-year contract, it’s something else. Knowing that I would spend the next eight seasons in this beautiful stadium was a great feeling.”
After a slow start in April (Teixeira injured his left wrist during Game 2 of the regular season at Baltimore’s Camden Yards), Teixeira joined the fun in May, hitting . 330 with 13 home runs and 34 RBIs.
From May 8 — when Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup — until the end of the year, Teixeira hit .310 with 34 homers and 107 RBIs, helping the Yankees to an 88-43 record during that stretch. His 43 doubles were the most by a Bombers first baseman since Don Mattingly had 53 in 1986.
“Would I have liked to have had a better start? Yes,” Teixeira said. “But when you hit 13 homers in May and you’re having the best month of your career, you’re like, ‘Well, it’s all good.’ The fact that we started badly as a team worried me more. I knew I was going to be fine.”
Called up as the starting first baseman for the American League All-Star Game, Teixeira completed the regular season batting .292/.383/.565, hitting 39 home runs and joining Babe Ruth (1920) as the second player to command or tied for the AL home run lead in his first year as a Yankee.
He marked the path of the Young Circuit with 122 RBIs, 31 RBIs to put his team on top and a total of 344 bases reached. Twenty-four of his total homers that year came at home, leading the Majors.
Having played just four postseason games before arriving in New York, Teixeira made an immediate impact on the Yankees’ path to their 27th World Series championship. Facing the Twins’ Venezuelan José Mijares, Teixeira hit a walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the American League Division Series – the first of its kind in his career and his only one until he hit his 409th and final big league hit in 2016, a grand slam off Joe Kelly of the Red Sox.
“I’m still bristling,” Teixeira said of the ALDS walk-off home run. “I thought it would be a double. If you look at the first pitch, I was trying to get her out of the park – I think I missed it by like three feet. I had to calm down and think, ‘Yeah, you’re trying to hit the ball hard. You want to get it up and do some damage, but you have to look at the ball.’”
Brought to New York as the final piece of what was expected to be a championship team, it made sense that Teixeira would get the last out of the 2009 World Series from Robinson Cano to retire Shane Victorino and seal the deal. game 6
Teixeira put the ball in his back pocket and proceeded to celebrate on the field. He then awarded the ball to Steinbrenner.
“I could have retired that day and I would have been happy,” confessed Teixeira. “You work all your life and dream of hosting a World Series. You talk to your teammates every year, about what it would be like to win that last game and be world champions. Looking back, it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done in baseball.”
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Teixeira completed the Yankees’ “blunderbuss”