ANAHEIM, Calif. — When Yankees ace Gerrit Cole pulls up to Angel Stadium for his start Wednesday, he won’t be behind the wheel of a glittery luxury SUV. There won’t be leather seats or reverse cameras. It won’t have a push start button.
Instead, Cole will step out his very first car, the only thing he drives around here: a white 2006 Toyota Tacoma with 82,000 miles on it.
“It’s the car I drove to everything in high school,” Cole told NJ Advance Media before a 6-4 loss to the Angels on Tuesday. “It’s funny. I get in there and I think about all the youth baseball things I grew up going to in that truck.”
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Cole signed a $324 million deal with the Yankees in December 2019.
Kelley Blue Book estimates the truck would fetch him about $7,836 if he sold it today. (Would have been worth $8,616 if it had four-wheel drive.)
So … why would Cole keep it around?
Well, why wouldn’t he?
“It works, first of all,” he said. “Super reliable. This isn’t a Toyota commercial, but, man, I really haven’t had any issues with it. I’m not here a whole lot. So when we go to the beach or when we lug around Christmas presents or things like that, it comes in handy.”
There’s more to it than that.
The car was a birthday gift from Cole’s father, Mark, when Gerrit was growing up in Newport Beach. Mark Cole had bought it new about 18 months before and used it before passing it on.
Gerrit Cole then took it everywhere. He drove it throughout high school and while at UCLA. After the Pirates drafted him first overall in 2011, Cole drove it to spring training in Bradenton, Fla., and for a while through the minor leagues. He drove it to Pittsburgh.
“It’s got sand in it, I feel like, from almost every beach in Southern California,” Cole said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to roll it down the hill and take the kid to the beach and it’s probably small enough to where you can find a parking spot and you can put a bunch of stuff in the back. Umbrellas and everything.”
It’s mostly the same as when he first got it. He’s fixed up some scratches and dents here and there with original parts. It gets 21 mph per gallon in the city and 26 on the highway. While he fondly remembers burning CDs filled with songs downloaded off LimeWire and bumping them in the truck, he’s since ripped out the factory-installed stereo and replaced it with a Pioneer sound system with Apple CarPlay.
On his way to Tuesday’s game, he brought with him a piece of memorabilia he received while visiting the old Yankee Stadium in 2008. He keeps it with his Tacoma keys.
“I showed (Brett Gardner) the lanyard, actually,” Cole said. “I was like, ‘I got this in 2008. I’ve had this as long as you’ve been in the big leagues.’ He gets a little edgy when you make old jokes on him sometimes.”
Since Cole’s father passed the truck down to him, would Cole pass it along to his own son? Cole and his wife, Amy, had Caden in June 2020.
“If it lasts that long,” Cole said. “It would have to make it another 16 years. There will probably be some new safety features that his mom wants on the car. Two airbags and no reverse cameras or cruise control. It might not be the best.”
But for now, it still rides smoothly for Cole, whom the Yankees hope won’t break down any time soon.
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Brendan Kuty may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.