Yankees’ Ben Rice shows 1B promise, reminisces about ‘special’ triple-homer outing

Ben Rice, player of the new york yankees
The Boston Globe
Amanda Paula
Monday July 8, 2024

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Two days after his remarkable performance, Ben Rice gave an interview with “Foul Territory” this Monday, reflecting on the day he made Yankees history as the first rookie to hit three home runs in a game.

“I mean, that day is one I’ll never forget. Just going out, hitting three homers, something you never really expect to do. And then the curtain call that you guys just mentioned was pretty funny,” Rice said.

Curtain call

On July 6, 2024. Ben Rice gets a curtain call from the crowd at Yankee Stadium after becoming the first Yankees rookie with three homers in a game.

Ben Rice dominated Boston’s pitching all afternoon. After his third blast, a three-run homer in the seventh inning, the crowd at Yankee Stadium demanded a curtain call. Rice, inexperienced in this scenario, struggled to find the correct exit from the dugout to tip his cap to the fans. His teammates humorously guided him, adding to the memorable moment.

“I was still coming off the high of hitting the home run and was just minding my business in the dugout. Then, I heard everyone yelling and pointing in different directions. Eventually, they inched me towards the steps, and I realized it was a curtain call. That was cool,” Rice recalled.

The anticipation

Ben Rice, player of the new york yankees

The anticipation was palpable as Ben Rice emerged for the curtain call during the seventh inning last Saturday. The rookie had just launched his third home run at a sweltering Yankee Stadium in a 14-4 blowout win over the Boston Red Sox. The crowd, desperate for a celebration amid a tough three-week stretch, clamored for Rice. Aaron Judge signaled for him to come out and receive the applause.

However, Ben Rice initially struggled to find the correct exit from the dugout. Teammates eventually directed him, and he finally emerged, igniting a roar from the crowd as he doffed his helmet with a broad smile.

“Thankfully, I got it right,” Rice, 25, said. “That was pretty awesome.”

A remarkable achievement

Ben Rice, player of the new york yankees
FOX News

Having been a major leaguer for only three weeks and four days, Ben Rice, who grew up a Yankees fan in hostile territory outside Boston, became the first rookie in franchise history to hit at least three home runs in a game, dating back to the days of the Highlanders.

Ben Rice recounted his historic day in the interview on “Foul Territory.” He shared, “First off, thanks for having me on, fellas. It’s cool to be here again. That day is one I’ll never forget. Hitting three homers, something you never expect. And the curtain call was funny. I was a bit confused, but I found my way to the steps eventually.”

Boosting the Yankees’ Morale

Ben Rice’s remarkable achievement provided a much-needed boost for the Yankees, who had dropped 14 of 18 games before Saturday, snapping a four-game losing streak after a devastating 10-inning loss the previous night.

“Obviously, we’re going through it,” said Gerrit Cole, who allowed four runs across 4⅓ innings in his fourth start of the season. “So we’ll take any success. It’s a historical, magical day. I’m thankful to be on the lineup card because I know Rice will remember it forever.”

Rice served as the Yankees’ leadoff hitter for the third straight game, highlighting his sudden importance to the team. He ignited the offense with a leadoff blast off Josh Winckowski in the first inning and added three-run shots in the fifth and seventh innings, both against Chase Anderson.

“Definitely a day I’ll never forget,” Rice reiterated.

From Ivy League to Major Leagues

Ben Rice, player of the new york yankees
The Dartmouth

Days like these are rare for Ivy Leaguers. Ben Rice, who grew up in Cohasset, Massachusetts, and was drafted in the 12th round out of Dartmouth as a catcher in 2021, burst onto the major league radar last season with impressive minor league stats. He continued to excel at Double-A this season before being called up to Triple-A, where he hit .333 with three home runs and a 1.059 OPS in 11 games.

After Anthony Rizzo broke his arm on June 16 at Fenway Park, Rice made his major league debut at first base and has continued to succeed. After Saturday’s performance, Rice is batting .294 with a .971 OPS and four home runs in 17 games.

Rice was never considered a top national prospect, but Yankees manager Aaron Boone was confident in Rice’s hitting ability. Boone believed Rice could produce at the highest level, even as the gap between Triple-A and major league pitching continues to widen.

The Yankees’ confidence in Ben Rice

The Yankees’ confidence in Rice, combined with a lack of productive options, is evident in how he’s been used. Rice has started games against both righties and lefties, despite still learning to play first base. He was promoted to the leadoff spot on the Fourth of July, replacing Anthony Volpe, and hit his first career home run.

“You see the calm at-bats he takes,” Boone said. “He understands the strike zone. He doesn’t flinch at much. Easy takes. You see the pull-side power he has. He combines strike zone control with barrel awareness and the ability to get the ball in the air pull-side.”

On Saturday, Rice swatted three pitches over the right-field wall, etching his name in Yankees record books and solidifying his place in the lineup.

Up next

The Yankees prepare to face Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field this upcoming Tuesday at 6:50 PM EST.

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