Yankees charmed Gerrit Cole with bottle of wine special to ace, wife
The New York Yankees pulled out all the stops in a charm offensive during the team’s dogged pursuit of Gerrit Cole, and the organization used some inside knowledge of the ace pitcher’s taste in wine to help seal the deal.
According to Cole, his discussions about wine with Lou Cucuzza Jr. — who runs the visitors’ clubhouse at Yankee Stadium — during the pitcher’s trips to the Bronx as an opposing player, aided the Yankees’ wooing of him.
“I am really good friends with Lou. He is just about as classy as it gets,’’ Cole said, per George A. King III of the New York Post. “There are clubhouse guys who are close to my heart and Lou is one of them.’’
Part of the Yankees’ free-agency pitch to Cole involved the utilization of a 30-pound, outrageous gizmo shaped like a home plate. Inside the contraption, there was an overwhelming amount of information about the Yankees organization … and a bottle of wine very meaningful to Cole and his wife, Amy, thanks to Cucuzza.
During one of their clubhouse visits, Cole shared with Cucuzza a photo of a meal he and his wife enjoyed as they celebrated an anniversary on a trip to Florence, Italy. Cucuzza asked Cole at the time what kind of wine the newlyweds were enjoying.
“I said it was Masseto. It is commonly acknowledged as the second-best merlot in the world outside of Petrus, which would be in France,’’ Cole said. “It’s definitely my favorite bottle. I did the ancestry thing and I am 35 to 37 percent Italian, so Italian’s top-notch bottle being Masseto, so it’s close to my heart.’’
Armed with that knowledge, the Yankees included a bottle of Masseto in the pitch package contained in the home-plate contraption.
“I was a little bit on my heels and couldn’t figure it out,” Cole said. “When I got home I asked Amy, ‘How did they pull it off?’ There are not many people in the world who know that is my favorite wine.’”
Cole ultimately figured out all the credit should go to Cucuzza.