Girardi's debut had Hollywood ending

Catching for Cubs, Yanks manager singled in first at-bat, got engaged after game

Girardi's debut had Hollywood ending

BOSTON -- In the wake of second baseman Rob Refsnyder's Major League debut on Saturday night, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked about how his own debut unfolded. As it turns out, his first day in the big leagues sounds more like a movie script than an anecdote.

On Opening Day 1989, Girardi went 2-for-3 as the Cubs' catcher, including a single in his first big league at-bat, and then got engaged to his wife, Kim, later that night.

"So a busy day," Girardi said.

The proposal, he said, was planned once he discovered he'd made the team.

"It's kind of a life-changer day," Girardi said. "We're still married 25 years later, so pretty good."

The Cubs held on to beat the Phillies, 5-4. Chief among Girardi's memories from that day is the range of emotions -- anxiety, elation, restlessness -- that coursed through him, along with his sense of accomplishment on the field.

"I got a hit my first [at-bat], and my last [at-bat]," he said. "So I knew it was time to retire."

Of course, the lighthearted stories that get retold with old teammates years later linger just as much.

"I always joke when I see Rick Sutcliffe. He told me, 'Don't worry, kid, I got these guys, we're facing the Phillies. Bobby Dernier never swings at the first pitch,'" Girardi said. "And the first pitch he hit a single into right and I'm going 'Oh my gosh, here we go.'"

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.