Teary Harrison Bader thankful as he says goodbye to Yankees

DETROIT – Harrison Bader is excited to be joining a playoff race, but not before a tearful goodbye to the Yankees.

The center fielder was claimed off waivers by the Reds on Thursday afternoon, flipping him from the last-place Yankees into the NL Central and wild-card race.

The transaction ended an uncertain 48 hours after the Yankees placed the pending free agent on waivers Tuesday, though the unceremonious ending did little to sour his appreciation for playing in pinstripes.

“I never thought I’d ever play in the big leagues, let alone in the Yankees uniform,” the Bronxville native said as his eyes welled with tears outside the visiting clubhouse at Comerica Park, before flying to join the Reds.

“I have no idea what’s to come for the future and I certainly hope it’s in a Yankees uniform again, if that’s an option. We don’t know what the future holds. 

“With that said, it just means so much to me to be a New York City kid playing in The Bronx for the Yankees. Yeah, it’s just really special for a lot of reasons. There was just a lot of good moments. I’m just really excited, because regardless of the situation, no one can ever take the fact that I put that uniform on [after] growing up in that city, which means a lot to me and a lot of people who support the Yankees. I’m just very excited and thankful for the opportunity. 

“Man, that was special.”

Harrison Bader reflected on his Yankees' tenure.
Harrison Bader reflected on his Yankees’ tenure.

Harrison Bader
Harrison Bader will now patrol center field for the Reds.

Bader’s top moment with the Yankees came in the playoffs last year, when he crushed five home runs in nine games and lived out a dream.

“Being in the postseason as a New Yorker, I had nothing to lose,” he said. “Sept. 20 when I debuted as a Yankee and the first time I took the field, the game was about to start. On the line, I told myself, ‘Everything from this exact moment on is just a cherry on top.’ Because it’s all good.”

Bader had his share of highs and lows in parts of two seasons with the Yankees.

He arrived from the Cardinals at last year’s trade deadline for Jordan Montgomery in a walking boot, with plantar fasciitis delaying his Yankees debut until September before his memorable October.

Elly De La Cruz; Spencer Steet
Elly De La Cruz (l), Spencer Steer (r) and the Reds are trying to make the playoffs.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

This season, Bader landed on the IL twice for a strained oblique and a strained hamstring. When healthy, he provided terrific defense in center field but hit just .240 with a .643 OPS and 17 steals in 84 games.

He was best against left-handers, against whom he hit .343 with a 1.079 OPS this season.

Now, he is looking forward to diving in head-first with the Reds, who entered Thursday six games back of first place in the NL Central and one game back of the final NL wild card.

“I’m just excited to go out there and play meaningful baseball down the stretch,” said Bader, who has plenty of familiarity with the NL Central. “Playing meaningful baseball in September, that’s really important. It means a lot, because it’s a long season. So I’m just excited to join those guys. Some young players, I know [manager] David Bell. On that front, I’m very excited.”

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