Remember September? When warmth fades and a chill sets in as dusk overtakes tall, green Jersey pine trees, shading smooth suburban pavement. The smell of cold air striking fresh woods conjures up back-to-school days, wooly sweaters, Saturday afternoon football and wild pennant races leading up to the World Series.
New York Yankees right fielder and power slugger Gary Sheffield has just pulled up to his Alpine, New Jersey house in his slinky black BMW 645Ci.
He turns off the car, cutting the up-tempo music he listens to after the game—Jay-Z (with the clean lyrics, of course) or old school jams, like Guy and Silk. With broad shoulders built to destroy fastballs on his 6-foot, 215-pound frame, he moves around his driveway like a ballplayer, steady and sure with a side-to-side sway.
Despite New York City’s hustle and bustle, Sheffield, a true Florida man, is not in a hurry. “I get a good 15-minute drive straight to the ballpark and back,” he explains in a smooth drawl. “Being on this freeway here, I can open it up a little bit and see what I got under there. I like living at least 15 to 20 minutes away from the park. It gives you time to think about what you gotta do when you get there, and kind of a wind down situation after.” Which suits him well, because in the world of baseball it’s important not to dwell on losses for too long. “You’ve just got to look at it and have a short memory and say ‘I’ll do well the next day,’ because people want you to do well all the time and it’s almost impossible to do that in baseball.”
Sheffield easily shifts gears to talk about other things he fancies—family, his wife Deleon’s gospel Grammy winning music, watching Randy Moss run the ball, Shaq on the court, and his long affair with mouth-watering cars. “You have a speed car, a convertible, a middle car like a big car, and a truck,” he explains. “I used to always look at the magazines and wish I had money to be able to afford to buy them.”
Growing up in Tampa, his father sparked his early inclination toward autos. “My dad is a big racecar fan,” he reminisces while sitting comfortably on his living room couch, Deleon at his right side and his three-year old son Jaden climbing about. “That’s where I think I got it from about cars, because he used to always be under the hood, fixing cars and making sure they were running right.” When it came to driving, Sheffield’s father taught his son in a Jeep, priming Sheffield for his mother’s Nissan 300ZX.