Scott Boras (L) and Hal Steinbrenner (L-C) look on as Gerrit Cole holds a sign from his youth with Amy Cole as the New York Yankees hold a press conference introducing their new pitcher Wednesday at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Photo by Bryan Smith/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The New York Yankees introduced former Houston Astros star pitcher Gerrit Cole in a press conference Wednesday.
In the introductory news conference, Cole brought along a sign that he took to the 2001 World Series when he watched the Yankees play the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. Then 11, Cole was caught on camera holding up a sign that read "Yankee fan today, tomorrow, forever."
Skeptics quickly questioned the authenticity of the sign, but Cole confirmed it was the exact one he held up 18 years ago. The lettering of the tape faded from blue to tan in the years since.
"It's the same one," Cole told reporters. "It's 18 years old. I had it on my wall for a few years and I think that's why it faded. I tucked it in my closet and my folks brought it down. I think after we came to terms, at least initially when everyone else found out about it, we went to dinner and they dropped the sign off. I just decided I should probably bring it to New York."
Cole, who agreed to a nine-year, $324 million contract with New York on Dec. 11, grew up a Yankees fan because of family in upstate New York. He said the sign was created on a concierge level of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Phoenix, where his family was staying for Games 6 and 7 of the World Series.
"I actually didn't make it," Cole said. "There was another family that was there. We were staying on the same floor. There's a little club area where you can get yogurt parfaits or something like that. They'd actually set up a little arts and crafts area and they'd made a sign, and they brought the sign to one of the games earlier, and then they didn't have tickets.
"So they left the sign with me since we were kind of all hanging out at the park. I wish I could remember their names. I talked to my dad this morning to see if he could remember, but we couldn't. I kept the sign [and] I love the sign."
In that 2001 World Series, Cole witnessed the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees 15-2 in Game 6 and 3-2 in Game 7.
Cole, who will wear No. 45 with the Yankees, posted a 20-5 record and an AL-leading 2.50 ERA with the Astros last season. He led MLB with 326 strikeouts.