The 2009 season for the Yankees was certainly one to remember. It was the last time they hoisted the World Series trophy, marking their 27th championship title in franchise history.
But the road that got them there was even more special. And one story in particular resonates with those Yankees still today.
Alex Rodriguez' 34th birthday party was one for the ages, taking lace in Rye, NY which is just a few miles from Yankee Stadium. Rodriguez then-girlfriend Kate Hudson put together an immaculate spread that saw the likes of the entire Yankees roster -- including coaches -- and some big name celebrities.
In their new book, "Mission 27," Bryan Hoch and Mark Feinsand bring the night back to life with quotes from players that were there, and here's what we learned...
Jay-Z was the 26th man on the roster
Throughout the season, rapper and mogul Jay-Z was constantly supporting the Yankees, whether it was on or off the field. At A-Rod's party, Jay-Z was there mingling with the team, and it was a common theme for him. There were some that referred to him as the 26th man on the roster, and hitting coach Kevin Long even went as far as naming him an honorary captain.
"He was a part of the team," Long said. "I don't know if Jeet's going to take this the right way, but he might've been the team captain.
Jay-Z would develop a very close relationship with CC Sabathia, the Yankees' ace that season, and eventually sign him to his Roc Nation Sports agency.
The Pool Scene
The large estate that the party was held at had an Olympic-size pool in the center of the backyard. And while the tables of food were surrounding it, Sabathia and fellow starter AJ Burnett told themselves they'd be jumping in it before the night was over.
"Me and CC had a plan from the first minute: We're ending up in the pool," Burnett said. "It was just a beautiful spread: tables lined up around the pool, food, awesome. I was like, 'You know we're going to end up in there,' and he's like, 'Oh, for sure.' "
But they weren't the first ones in. It was the birthday boy that made the first splash.
After blowing out the candles to his cake, Rodriguez jumped right in, and the masses followed. Burnett and Sabathia were in immediately after him, followed by their significant others. Even manager Joe Girardi got the coaches involved by cannonballing his way into the pool.
"It got to the point of, 'Why aren't any coaches in here?' " Burnett said. "So Joe jumps in and starts grabbing people, grabbing coaches, grabbing teammates, chucking people in left and right. It was awesome. It was great bonding. If you would've told me that was the way that birthday party was going to end up, I probably would've been like, 'You're crazy, no way.' "
David Robertson: The Party Pooper
The trusty Yankees reliever was a rookie on the roster back in '09, so one would figure he would quickly jump in the pool to follow his elder teammates. But that wasn't the case.
Robertson didn't want to partake in the shenanigans because of the very expensive suit he was wearing. Rodriguez was actually the one that bought him the suit, and being a rookie with a lower salary than almost all of the players on the team, Robertson didn't feel like paying for a new one.
"I didn't want to get in the pool," Robertson said. "I didn't think I would be at a high-school party. I was past college and past high school and just didn't think it warranted it. I was wearing a brand-new suit because I had just been to an event with Johnny Damon. I had one suit and, yeah, I wasn't into it."
Oh, but Burnett -- the player that had been hazing Robertson the most since he stuck with the Yankees -- got him in anyway. Robertson was "pissed" at Burnett, and Sabathia recalls him jumping out of the pool and trying to chase down the righty.
"I think A.J. pushed him in," Sabathia said. "He was pissed at somebody. A.J. would haze D-Rob at that point in his career, always giving D-Rob s- -t. To see D-Rob turn around and actually be pissed, I remember he was chasing A.J. down."
Safe to say Robertson wasn't too pleased about that night.
"There were some people that almost got some blows thrown at them that night," he said. "It wasn't funny then, and it isn't funny to me now."
The Hangover Game
While Rodriguez' party was uber fun, it couldn't have landed on a worse night. The Yankees had a 1:05 start against the A's the next day, and the team was pretty banged up. Here's what the day's starter, Phil Hughes, had to say:
"I threw up on the way home and had to pitch the next day, a day game against Oakland," he recalled. "I was so hung over, I didn't know if I was going to make it through. I felt absolutely miserable."
Still, the Yankees were too hot at that time and managed to collected a 7-5 win, even with the team in the state they were.
Respect for Rodriguez
When all was said and done, many of the players saw a side to Rodriguez they hadn't before that night.
"I never played with him before, and I didn't know him, but I knew this wasn't the Alex I had heard about," Burnett said. "This guy's great; are you s--tting me? If you would've told me he was going to jump in that pool, I would've said, 'No chance.' You just saw his personality coming out as that year kept going on. I think everybody enjoyed seeing Alex like that."
But that's exactly what the party did: It opened the eyes to the true personalities of everyone on the squad, which only helped them grow their chemistry more.
"I had been with them for five years, and we had never done that before," Rodriguez said. "We all let our hair down and gave in to the moment."