Legendary Yankees broadcaster John Sterling called him “The Sanchize,” while fans in the Bronx and beyond simply consider him the future.
In less than a month, Yankees rookie catcher Gary Sanchez has taken over the baseball universe, getting off to one of the hottest starts in MLB history and re-energizing a fan base that hasn’t had a whole lot to cheer about in recent years. A Sanch-sation? Oh, you better believe it.
Only 23 years old, Sanchez has played 22 games with the Yankees this season, but he’s done a whole lot in a very limited time. He went 2-for-4 with a double in the Yankees’ loss Sunday, and has hit safely in six straight games. He won American League player of the week honors and, after hitting a home run Saturday, Sanchez became the quickest player in major league history to hit his first 11 homers — 23 career games. He also hit those 11 homers in a span of 53 at-bats, more than one home run in five chances.
“Gary, man, he just goes out there and works,” said fellow Yankee rookie Aaron Judge, who played with Sanchez in the minor leagues. And, unlike everyone else, Judge isn’t all that shocked by what his buddy has been able to do. “I’ve seen this for many years,” he said, grinning widely. “It’s just fun that now he’s doing it on this stage and everyone gets a chance to see it.”
And the fans love it. Sanchez got the loudest cheers when his name was announced before the game, and “Gar-y San-chez” chants seem to be the primary mode of communication at Yankee Stadium. His jersey — No. 24 — was listed as the top seller on Yankees.com on Sunday, ahead of Derek Jeter, Babe Ruth and every other Yankee icon with a plaque in Monument Park. Above all, he gives fans hope; this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Yankees, and instead, they’re in the thick of the playoff hunt.
Sanchez has insisted from the beginning that the extra attention won’t detract from his baseball.
“Having fun is part of the game you know and right now we’re going out there and giving 100 percent and good things are happening,” he said Friday through an interpreter. When asked Sunday if it was difficult to stay focused, he shrugged it off. “I’m not changing anything,” he said, “just keeping things simple.”