The plan is for this to be something of a soundtrack for the next 15 or so years of Anthony Volpe’s life.
The plan is for the cheers to rise from the grandstand and the bleachers as soon as he is spotted on the field, for the cheers to become roars whenever he is introduced as a member of the starting lineup, and for thunder to follow each of his 2,700 or so career hits, some of them coming in the glorious heat of October.
That’s the plan.
The reality? Well, that will be the really fun part. Actually seeing Volpe develop will be the kick. It was easy to forget that about the player to whom Volpe is destined to be forever linked, Derek Jeter, because it all happened for Jeter in a rush. He had the big home run and the huge defensive play in the ’96 opener in Cleveland. He won Rookie of the Year. The Yankees won a World Series.
And so it’s hard now to remember a time when Jeter wasn’t full formed, when Jeter wasn’t Jeter, billboard-ready and supermodel-friendly.
Volpe’s tale will be told a little more deliberately, a little closer to the usual blueprint. There were 46,172 people inside Yankee Stadium Thursday afternoon, and in 15 or 20 years they probably won’t be able to tell you that they saw the Yankees whitewash the Giants on Opening Day 2023, 5-0. They’ll probably be able to summon Aaron Judge’s mammoth home run in his first at-bat of the year. They’ll recall Gerrit Cole was pretty good that day.
What they’ll remember — if the plan holds — is that they were there when Anthony Volpe took his first big-league swings, when he drew his first big-league walk and stole his first big-league run, when he turned his first big-league double play and handled all of his chances flawlessly.
Anthony Volpe during introductions before the Yankees’ Opening Day game against the Giants on Thursday.Robert Sabo for the NY Post
A fan with a “Volpening Day” sign during Anthony Volpe’s Yankees debut on Thursday.Robert Sabo for the NY Post
“It was probably the most fun day of my entire life,” Volpe said, a smile fastened to his face that wasn’t soon going to be extinguished. “I had goose bumps the whole day.”
The folks in the crowd — from his family up in Section 214 to the Bleacher Creatures who delighted in Volpe’s decision to kiss the interlocking “NY” on his jersey as a manner of tribute during roll call — seemed to share in the sentiment. They gave him the second-loudest greeting (behind mighty Judge) when he trotted out to the first-base line during pregame introductions. They stood and screamed when he took his first at-bat leading off the third.
“It felt like he was chasing 62 his first at-bat,” Judge quipped.
Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe throws out Thairo Estrada to end the fourth inning.Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post
Anthony Volpe on the bases during the Yankees’ win over the Giants on Thursday.Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post
That was funny. But it wasn’t wrong. Yankees fans certainly appreciate players who serve their baseball internships elsewhere before draping themselves in the pinstripes for the first time. From Babe Ruth to Roger Maris to Catfish Hunter to Paul O’Neill to Cole, they have happily adopted imports and treated them as their own.
But it’s different with the homegrown. It was different with Gehrig and DiMaggio and Mantle, different with Thurman Munson and Don Mattingly, different with Bernie Williams and the men of the Core Four, specifically Jeter. There is investment with those players. There is ownership.
You get to see their first games and their last games, and all the wonderful stuff that happens in between. Yankees fans last had that with Judge, back in 2017, when he exploded on the scene as a rookie and swatted 52 home runs. Now there is Volpe, and all that we might see across the next 15 years. All of it out there, a wonderful story just waiting to be told.
The family of New York Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe take cellphone photos as he takes his first at bat during the third inning.Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post
Anthony Volpe is all smiles as he waves to fans after his first postgame interview.Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post
Day 1 didn’t go as Jeter’s did — but, then, never forget the way Joe Girardi once described Jeter: “He’s a movie.” Not everyone is a movie. But that doesn’t mean Volpe didn’t look like he belonged, right from the first at-bat, when he took two borderline (but properly called) balls on 2-2, drew a walk, then swiped the base.
It’s a small step. But there was something else, too.
“He looked like he’d been here a while,” said Cole, who tossed six shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out 11.
Said Yankees manager Aaron Boone: “That’s who he is. And to do it on Opening Day with the team you grew up watching …”
Well, it’s almost a movie. Volpe will take that. So will the Yankees. And so will the 46,172 who were there for the opening credits.