Editor's note: This story originally ran on May 1, 2019.
When CC Sabathia was a free agent in the fall of 2008 and deeply skeptical about the idea of signing to play in New York, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recruited with the Steinbrenner family checkbook, but also with a personal appeal.
Sabathia was needed to improve the Yankees' rotation, of course, but Cashman also told Sabathia he viewed him as someone who could immediately walk into the clubhouse and change what the GM believed had become a staid and stiff culture. Cashman had heard all the stories about what an exceptional teammate Sabathia was, about Sabathia's instincts for drawing players away from potential cliques and pulling in those on the fringes.
Swayed by a record-setting offer, Sabathia did all that Cashman envisioned, dominating hitters as the Yankees went on to win the 2009 World Series and, at the same time, improving the working conditions for those who call the Yankees' clubhouse home by the way he treats others. This should be part of what will be an unconventional Hall of Fame résumé for Sabathia, part of the reason he will deliver an induction speech at Cooperstown one day.