Todd Frazier’s first home at-bat with Yankees results in a triple play

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 25: Todd Frazier
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 25: Todd Frazier /

In his first at-bat in Yankee Stadium, the boy from New Jersey, Todd Frazier, hit into a triple play.

Todd Frazier grew up playing baseball in Toms River, New Jersey, which is about 84 miles south of Yankee Stadium via the Garden State Parkway and I-95 North. He had a legendary Little League career. Despite being just 5-foot-2 and 104 pounds, Frazier was the star of the Toms River East American Little League All-Star team that made it all the way to the 1998 Little League World Series.

The team cruised through the tournament undefeated and became known as the “Beast of the East.” They played against a team from Japan in the championship game and Frazier was the star. He played shortstop, hit a leadoff home run on his way to a 4-for-4 day, and struck out the final batter in the team’s 12-9 victory.

As Little League world champions, the Toms River team was invited by the New York Yankees to Yankee Stadium to be honored for their achievement. During pregame introductions, the players all ran out to their positions and stood next to the Yankee player who played their spot. The 12-year-old Frazier stood next to 24-year-old Derek Jeter, who was already well on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Sixteen years later, Frazier would make the All-Star team for the first time and was able to play against Jeter, who was making the last of his 14 career All-Star Game appearances.

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Frazier played for Rutgers University after high school, then was a first round draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds. He played five years with the Reds, where he established himself as a power-hitting third baseman with 29 homers in 2014 and 35 in 2015. He was traded to the White Sox prior to the 2016 season. In his first year in the AL, he hit 40 bombs. Last week, the White Sox traded him to the Yankees.

On Tuesday, almost 19 years after he stood next to Derek Jeter in Yankee Stadium as a triumphant Little Leaguer, Todd Frazier played his first game in front of the home crowd. He estimated there were about 500-600 people from Toms River attending the game, watching their boy. He wanted to make them proud.

Frazier stepped to the plate for his first home at-bat as a Yankee in the bottom of the second inning. It looked to be everything he could dream of. The bases were loaded with no outs in a scoreless game. Young Luis Castillo was on the mound. The count went to three-and-one. There was nothing Frazier wanted more than to launch a grand slam in his first at-bat in front of his new fans.

Alas, it was not to be. Frazier hit a soft line drive to short that Jose Peraza fielded on a hop. Peraza stepped on second for one out and fired to first for another. In the meantime, the runner who was originally on second base, Didi Gregorius, was stuck in no-man’s land between second and third. Reds first baseman Joey Votto fired the ball to Eugenio Suarez. After a rundown, Gregorius was tagged out for a triple play. It was not even close to what Frazier wanted to do in front of his hometown fans for the first time, but at least it was memorable.

The Yankees are in the middle of a pennant race battle with the Boston Red Sox for the AL East and competing with a half-dozen teams for an AL Wild Card spot. Their third basemen this season, primarily Chase Headley and Ronald Torreyes, rank 19th in MLB in FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement. They hope Frazier can use his right-handed power and solid glove to help the team reach the postseason.

Next: Yankees history: Ruth makes final appearance

Perhaps in response to the Yankees’ move, the Red Sox recently acquired utility player Eduardo Nunez from the San Francisco Giants for minor league pitchers Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos. A two-game winning streak by the Yankees combined with a four-game losing streak by the Red Sox has left the teams separated by just a single game, with the Red Sox still leading the AL East.