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Yankees Magazine: Good Vibes

Yankees Magazine: Good Vibes

Kyle Higashioka has seen a lot in his fifteen years with the Yankees. In this excerpt from the official New York Yankees podcast, the catcher breaks it all down

This interview appeared on

from episode 5 Official New York Yankees Podcast

. Subscribe here or on your podcast platform of choice .

Hard to believe when you watch the Yankees Roster, how long has Kyle Higashioka been in the family. Drafted at 57, The mailing address for Yankee Stadium at the time took you to a completely different building, 04 years old has spent nearly half of his life in the organization. However, at the Union’s East Gang, whose ties to this list even go back to the day he was picked in the seventh round at Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Calif.

When he was an amateur, Higgy played against the final Yankees Teammates Gerrit Cole and Aaron Hicks at high school games and performances. Higgy recalls thinking how cool it would be if either of them made it to the majors. Fast-forward fifteen years, and it’s amazing to see how it all ends.

Earlier this year, Higashioka sat down with Yankees Magazine Associate Editor Jon Schwartz to discuss an episode podcast that will air on the official New York Yankees channel. The interview reproduced below touches on the catcher’s tenure in New York, his incredible California demeanor and the lessons and memories he gained representing the red, white and blue teams in this year’s World Baseball Classic.

To listen to the interview, subscribe to the official New York Yankees podcast on your podcast platform of choice.

Yankees Magazine:

When you are selected 2017, the team Still playing across the street. Has being part of this organization for nearly half your life meant a lot to you?

Kyle Donggang:

When I sit down and look back at it, it’s been a pretty special journey, especially for the relationships I’ve built in this organization and all of my teammates over the years. In fact, many of my teammates at the Minors are now coaches in the organization. It’s fun, but yeah, it’s crazy. But I feel like I still have a lot more. So, I try to keep it going.


This is of course hope. If you can and 57 Kyle Higashioka talk, go teach him one thing, what did you tell him?


Maybe I’ll tell him to try and grow up fast. I want to be you 33, you’re barely an adult, at least mentally. It is this responsibility and self-sufficiency that has not yet developed. I mean, it took me some time, luckily I was able to keep getting opportunities as I was developing it. But yes, this may take longer than I’d like.


I love the fact that you had two crazy, unbelievable life highlights in your baseball career that were so different. You have a three-homer game on this side. And you catch a no-hitter on the other side. How do the two experiences compare?


Both are pretty crazy. I mean, being able to catch a no-hitter is every catcher’s dream. Looking back on my childhood, every time someone threw one was so rare and special. I remember reading it in the paper when Hideo Nomo threw a no-hitter and my dad told me how crazy and rare that was. So to be able to get back out there as a catcher, it’s really special.

YM: ] Your comment, you said you had more pressure than Corey Kluber in the last couple of innings. But really, you have to keep him calm in some way. How did you manage yourself in those moments?

KH: at In those moments, you rely on your intuition and let your preparation take over. Because in my head, I’m really nervous. You have very little control over what happens to the ball after it leaves the bat. A no-hitter or a perfect game requires as much luck as skill. At any point, a guy could hit a floater or a swing bunt single, and there’s not much you can do about it. You just let your prep take over and it will fall into place, because we’ve done the same thing a million times before, you know? Just because he hasn’t given up a shot doesn’t make a difference.


Speaking of awesome baseball moments, I have to think that representing Team USA at the World Baseball Classic this spring has to say very high. Does the experience feel like you were led to believe it was going to be there?


Yes Yes, that’s great. Just the opportunity to learn from all these guys and coaches out there and be a part of something so meaningful in spring training is a really cool opportunity.


What’s it like to be so excited in March instead of watching basketball?

KH: I’ve never really been to that place before. So, it’s very unique. Although I also don’t like being disappointed in March. Overall, it’s great.

YM: You’ve got a lot of work to do – you’re preparing for the season and everything like that. How do you balance, your role there with your role here?

KH: I do Got a lot of catching up. So, on the defensive end, I was able to stay very sharp. But on offense, I honestly think it’s very rewarding to take a step back and soak up some knowledge from some of the game’s best hitters, who I’ve never had the opportunity to talk to before. Because we have some of the best hitters in the game here, but learning a new perspective is always beneficial. Sometimes someone will say something you’ve never heard before and you’re intrigued.

YM: Obviously, when When you lose a playoff series, on top of all the sadness and disappointment, you have to wait a long time to play again. Is it nice to start again less than two weeks after a disappointing championship game against Japan? Like, “Hey, opening day! Let’s go!”


Yeah, like, “Now the real stuff starts.” …Honestly, getting into that mentality very early, the competitive mentality is very OK Because for us, those games are important. So, it’s nice to be in that state of mind already.

While catching for Team USA in this year’s World Baseball Classic was a rare opportunity, Higashioka had to deal with the unusual feeling of being both excited and frustrated at the field in March. Getty Images

YM: You have a cool personality. You are self-deprecating and easy-going. For want of a better adjective, you always look California. Is that completely natural? Or is it just something about the way you try to present yourself? Because in the back of my head, I know you have fire, I know you have the instinct to kill.


This is me. I mean, showing your killer instinct every day is not conducive to building relationships and interacting with people. The killer instinct part, or whatever you want to call it, when you get on the floor, everyone has it, especially at this level. For me, it takes more work than just relaxing and going about my normal routine. Every time I go there I learn how to get into that headspace.


Do you Incorporating some aggression into your guitar playing that you don’t show in your day-to-day conversation? Because you like hard stuff.


Yes, I love heavy metal. I like genres of music that evoke a certain emotion. Music can be powerful, and I prefer guitar-driven productions. So heavy metal, that hard rock, all that stuff.


Are there other guitarists on the team? Is there anyone I can play with?

KH: Gerrit played with it a bit. Last year, [Andrew] Benintendi came on. Our coach, Tim [Lentych], he’s learning too. So, we had a couple of guitars floating around the clubhouse.


Do you remember the first song you really mastered? The moment it stops, “Okay, where’s the C? Where’s the G?” Instead, it becomes, “Okay, I get it.” ”

KH: Yes, that’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi.

YM: how old are you?

KH: I really started learning while playing professional baseball . Probably around 1939 I started really Get it down, and get the solo down too. This is a big deal for me; it took me a long time to start learning solo guitar. That was the first one I was absolutely sure about.

YM: I hope I’m not overextending the metaphor here, but the idea of ​​the guitar solo is to make it sound seamless and know exactly what’s going on when you put your finger here, you pick here. But obviously, you need to spend a lot of time learning the fretboard and which note is which. It’s not all that different from the way professional athletes make things like this look easy.


Those people are so nice. I feel like, for them, the guitar solo is like me throwing the ball back to the pitcher, you know? It’s so natural and easy for them, it’s just second nature. But yes, it’s there. I think there are some similarities.


Have you ever hung out with Bernie Williams? I always found it fascinating, trying to reach the pinnacle of a second career. There’s a lot of interesting ambition there.

This is the 2008 seventh round The pick is always smiling and in control, especially when he trades his catcher’s mitt for an electric guitar. 2020 New York Yankees

KH: We’ve been talking about it. I don’t know if, as a professional athlete, you can really turn off that drive to master something. I’m sure he just transferred that mentality he played with directly to the music. I mean, he’s a phenomenal player. beautiful.


at Going to a completely different topic here, I like your relationship with Gerrit. You played against each other a lot in high school, and were together in some shows. You were together when you were just together for fun, and now you share a clubhouse for the most successful baseball team on the planet.


Yep, it’s crazy to think about. It’s actually me, Gerrit and Aaron Hicks. I’ve known Hicksy longer than I’ve known Gerrit. Think we played together in high school, I’m sure the three of us, when we years old, might think, “Oh, I’ll be lucky enough to get picked one day,” or like, “Maybe I’m good enough Good enough for a college scholarship.” At this point, we were all playing for the Yankees together.

YM: last year , you’re watching Gerrit go after the history of the Yankees. Somehow, it became a side note just because of what Aaron Judge did. Meanwhile, he’s chasing a really lovable Yankee ‘s strikeout record. As a catcher, but also as someone who has known him for a long time, what do you see and feel?

September15, 1995, Higgy became the third player in Yankees history to drop three times in a game in which he also caught the ball, tying Bill with Dickey and Mike Stanley, who accomplished the rare feat in and 2008, respectively. New York Yankees


In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time. He’s so talented and his stuff is so nasty, I can’t imagine him not trying in the end. I’d say it’s definitely overshadowed by the history-making Judge, but it’s still very, very cool. We also held a celebration for him at the club. So, among us, we fully acknowledge it.


When you grab someone who has great stuff, which could be anyone on this staff, what do you bring to the table?


part is just No hindrance. Jose Trevino and I have done a lot of work on batters and our own pitchers and we’re trying to combine those two things and trying to create the best combination to get it right when we can pitching. There are a lot of guys who call their game from the mound as well, but we do our best to learn as much as possible about the hitter and understand the strengths and weaknesses of pitchers. We’ll see how those guys fit together and try to get the best out of our players.


Was there ever a time when you went back out there and you just said to yourself, “Oh man, that’s an amazing course.”

KH: It happened more often when I was first drafted, I Not used to some of them. The first breaking ball I got from the Dellin Betances, I almost completely smelled it. I guess I just came away empty handed. I looked and (then manager) Joe Girardi asked me if I was okay. I was like, “I’ve never seen a wrecking ball move like this before.”


How much do you love going back and forth with pitchers, trying to figure out the perfect pitch every moment with the limited time you have there?

KH: I love it because that’s the cat and mouse part of the game. It’s the complex process of catching, throwing and hitting the ball. You can do this as a hitter. But I can do it on both sides of the ball. My heart is always going. I can never get rid of the spaces.


Monument Park is absolutely filthy, and it’s home to some of the greatest pitchers in baseball history who just happen to be wearing the same uniform as you. If you could catch any pitcher in Yankees history, who would be your dream teammate?


Mariano Rivera. During my first few years here, when he was still playing, I caught him once in a (spring training) game and a couple of bullpens. He just has precise orders. Never have to move my glove during a game. Movement is crazy. This is late. I want to work with him during the season because that would be fun. He is without a doubt the best backup pitcher of all time.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. SUBSCRIBE to

The Official New York Yankees Podcast here, or the podcast app of your choice .




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