Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

How Yanks' Holliday Fits In

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

How Yanks' Holliday Fits In

Article excerpt

TAMPA, Fla. - Matt Holliday can still picture his grandfather, inside the kitchen of the family's Oklahoma home, an ear bent to the crackle of a small radio tuned to a Yankees game.

"He could barely hear what was going on but he was dialed in every night, listening to that," Holliday said of that boyhood memory.

Don Holliday was signed by the Yankees, but any professional career he might have had was interrupted by service in World War II.

"I was pretty young, I didn't know really much about it at the time," Matt Holliday said of his grandfather's Yankees connection. Don Holliday died well before his grandson's interest in baseball might have led to a conversation about those pre-war days, "but in hindsight, I wish I would have (asked)."

At age 37, after 13 years - seven of them All-Star seasons - spent almost exclusively as a National Leaguer, Holliday occupies Alex Rodriguez's old corner locker spot at Steinbrenner Field, dispensing hitting knowledge to his youthful Yankees teammates.

But filling a leadership void is an offshoot of his primary role as the Yankees' likely cleanup hitter and regular designated hitter.

"From what I've seen he's not slowing down," Chase Headley said of Holliday, who slashed .293/.380/.494 over the past nine seasons in St. Louis. "His bat speed looks great. He's got a lot left in the tank."

And yet, it's no coincidence that Holliday's locker resides next to burgeoning fellow right-handed hitting slugger Aaron Judge, and within close proximity to Gary Sanchez.

Along with Greg Bird, "(those) guys are really just starting to take off. I feel like it should be a pretty exciting offense," said Holliday, who might find himself batting between Sanchez and Bird, forming a new heart of the Yankees order.

"There's guys here that I think have another level, another step," Holliday said. "And then you look at guys like Didi (Gregorius) and Starlin (Castro) who are still really young that are just coming into their prime. …

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