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In Any Language, Victory is Sweet

George Rose '88 translates his way to a World Series Championship 

By Jaime de Leon '01

When George Rose's playing career ended after high school, he never thought that he'd wear a baseball uniform again, let alone the famed Yankee pinstripes. The idea of being fitted for a World Series ring was ridiculous. But both scenarios have come to pass in a highly unusual way.

Rose is the official translator for New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu. The Garden City, N.Y., native, who grew up an ardent baseball fan, spent most of 1998 in the clubhouse at Yankee Stadium next to his new buddy, Irabu. The road to the Bronx, however, was a bit circuitous, stretching from Worcester, Mass., to Japan, and back to New York.

Arriving at Holy Cross in the fall of 1984, Rose wasn't exactly sure where he was going or what he wanted to do. "I wasn't the most studious of students at the Cross. That's not a reflection on the teachers, but more a reflection of me at that time in my life," he said.

The decision to attend Holy Cross was made during an Open House weekend. Rose said he simply "fell in love with the campus." An English major, he studied with Professors Ed Callahan and Carolyn Wall. But, ironically, it was not until after Holy Cross that Rose learned the Japanese language.

After college, Rose was undecided about a profession. He ended up teaching in Brooklyn's public school system. But he felt restless and wanted to see more of the world. So he decided to go away.

Far away.

"I heard about a couple of friends I'd graduated with who had gone on this program to Japan, the JET program," said Rose. The Japanese Exchange in Teaching Programs gives recent college grads the opportunity to teach in Japan.

After teaching for two years in a Japanese high school, Rose returned home bilingual. He continued to teach in New York, and in the meantime worked at getting his M.B.A. at Columbia University. With just one more semester left before he completed the M.B.A., the Yankees job became available. It was then that Holy Cross "came through big time."

One of Rose's Holy Cross friends, Pat McGrath '88, happened to know Pete Fluenza, who had gone to college with then-Yankees assistant general manager Brian Cashman. Rose interviewed with general manager Bob Watson and Cashman in November of last year. Three months later, Watson had resigned, Cashman was the new general manager, and Rose was offered the job. The next day, Rose was flown down to Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., the Yankees' spring training facility. On Feb. 14, Rose was first introduced to Hideki Irabu.

If there was ever an ideal year to go to work for the Yankees, 1998 was it. The Yankees won 125 games and became a model of team chemistry. Rose worked out and practiced with Irabu on a daily basis and was the liaison between Irabu and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, as well as the other Yankee coaches. Although he was not able to travel to the mound with Stottlemyre, Rose was allowed to sit in the clubhouse and talk with Irabu between innings. He also sat in the bullpen between Irabu's starts and watched the other pitchers work.

"It's been fascinating being in the bullpen this year and watching pitchers," said Rose. "They constantly have to adjust and readjust their mechanics. Just seeing things like that and seeing them learn new pitches from Mel, who used to pitch for the Yankees, has been wonderful."

While the year was exciting, Rose is still interested in returning to school to finish his M.B.A. degree. Also, Irabu is quickly learning the language and, in the near future, may not need an interpreter. Irabu already has the quick wit that has helped him to fit in nicely with the Yankees. Rose tells of a story that took place during the beginning of spring training. The team was doing aerobics when manager Joe Torre called Hideki and him over.

"We're doing aerobics for all the players twice a week and they brought in an aerobics instructor. I strongly suggest that Hideki take part in these aerobics sessions," Torre told Rose. Rose translated for Irabu and Irabu replied, "Tell him (Torre) I'd like to, but I didn't bring my leotards."

Throughout the magical season that was 1998, Rose never lost sight of the fact that he was lucky to have come across his job, which he calls "the best job in New York City."  He also never lost sight of the fact that a Holy Cross connection is what got him there. "I'm just always glad I went to Holy Cross," he said. "I feel like I got a fine education there and I learned how to express myself clearly and how to write well. I also think that Holy Cross instilled a strong faith in me. My relationship with God is something that I take with me wherever I go, whatever situation I go into." 

 

 

George Rose '88 and Hideki Irabu
George Rose '88 and Hideki Irabu

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