Yanks trainer Gene Monahan to retire

Updated: May 12, 2011, 8:09 AM ET
By Matt Ehalt | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- When he completes his 49th season with the New York Yankees organization at the end of the year, head athletic trainer Gene Monahan is trading it all in for a new life with a dog, a pickup truck, a garden and a new home down in North Carolina.

The Yankees announced Wednesday that Monahan, the longest-tenured employee in the Yankees organization, will retire at the conclusion of the 2011 season. Monahan, 66, has been with the team since 1962.

"Until that last pitch is thrown this year, wherever that is, hopefully it's deep into October, early November, we'll see, I'll be there being the biggest fan these players ever had each inning I'm out there," Monahan said. "It's been a wonderful ride. I've got some other things I need to do. I'm looking forward to the future and I'm looking forward to staying a member of this family."

[+] EnlargeGene Monahan
John O'Boyle/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireYankees trainer Gene Monahan joined the club as a bat boy and clubhouse attendant at spring training in 1962.

Choosing his words carefully and speaking with an open heart, Monahan said his age and his battle with cancer are the main reasons he will retire. He also mentioned his family and children.

Monahan joked that he got old fast, although he said that he doesn't feel old and his job helps keep him young. He called his bout with throat and neck cancer a "huge wake-up call" that affected him and he said he didn't want to be sick to the point where it took him away from his profession, adding that he was thankful the cancer hadn't done that. He thanked all of the people who helped him along the way.

Monahan said he made the decision to retire at the end of the season in November and talked with general manager Brian Cashman in January to map the year out. He's now moving down to North Carolina, halfway between the New York metropolitan area and his home in South Florida. He likes the pace of life in the South and plans to name his dog Schrader after his friend and NASCAR driver Ken Schrader.

"I knew that day was coming but I thought I'd be prepared because this is what I've done my whole life," Monahan said. "It's what I love obviously, I have a passion for it and I have a passion for the game and I really have a passion for what I do. I knew this day was coming but I didn't realize it was coming this soon."

While Monahan didn't go into too many particulars, he spoke positively of his relationships with former Yankees Thurman Munson, Bobby Murcer, Sparky Lyle and Catfish Hunter. He also said that he and former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner helped each other out along the way.

Monahan has been the Yankees' head athletic trainer for the past 39 years, working his way up the organizational ladder. He started out as a bat boy and clubhouse attendant in 1962 while he was a senior in high school, started working as an athletic trainer in 1963 before becoming head trainer for Double-A Columbus (Ga.) and Binghamton (N.Y.) in 1965. From 1969 to 1972, he worked with Triple-A Syracuse before getting the call up to the big leagues in 1973.

"Gene Monahan embodies all the very best virtues that this organization strives to uphold," Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a news release. "His devotion to his craft, passion for the game of baseball and tireless work ethic are only a few of the qualities that have made him a bedrock within this franchise for nearly 50 years. Gene has made a lifetime's worth of sacrifices and contributions in order to best serve the Yankees, and our entire organization will always be grateful."

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, in his 17th season with the Yankees, had only positive things to say about his head athletic trainer.

"What he means to this organization, it's been tremendous. The job that he has done to take care of us and have us ready for games, there's absolutely no price for that," Rivera said. "This guy has done everything in his power to make sure that we are ready for the games and you appreciate that. I definitely appreciate that knowing he's always there for us. The dedication, the passion, the love, kindness he has through all these years, not only with us but with everybody he treated. He's a wonderful human being and I've been blessed when you have a guy like that in life. That's Gene Monahan."

Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor