Cole, who signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees earlier this month, was captured during Game 6 in the 2001 World Series as a fan when he was holding a sign which read, “Yankee Fan Today. Tomorrow. Forever.”
Nearly two decades later, he brought a similar sign to the press conference.
“I’d like to start with something that’s pretty special to my heart,” Cole said, according to the New York Post. “I’m here. I’ve always been here.”
Cole had initially spurned the Yankees early in his career. New York selected him in the first round of the 2008 draft but he chose to go to UCLA to play college baseball instead. He then played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros before signing his mega-deal with the Yankees.
“Because it was my dream,” he said. “I had a second opportunity to chase it and it’s the best organization, in my opinion, in the league. There’s a process here that [general manager] Brian [Cashman] spoke to and that he just alluded to a couple of minutes ago, about trying to bring the best people at each individual position to surround everybody with the best opportunity to succeed.”
New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, left, and pitcher Gerrit Cole hold up a jersey as Cole is introduced as the baseball club’s newest player during a media availability, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 in New York. The pitcher agreed to a 9-year, $324 million contract. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Cole finished his two-season tenure with the Astros one game away from winning a World Series. He led the American League with a 2.50 ERA and led the majors with 326 strikeouts. He finished second in the American League Cy Young award voting to former teammate Justin Verlander.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.