Yankees GM helps Santa manage Grinch
Heights & Lights: Yankees GM rappels Landmark Building for holiday show
STAMFORD -- As the Grinch dangled from the face of the Landmark Building, Brian Cashman began his descent, stopping halfway down to pull off a red tunic and reveal a blue-and-white New York Yankees jersey that drew roars of approval from Bombers fans who jeered the Grinch's Boston Red Sox garb.
Once safely on the ground in Latham Park, Cashman, the Yankees general manager, said a stronger-than-expected wind compounded his fear of heights during his daredevil cameo, though he came away invigorated after sliding down the second-tallest building in the city.
"It was the most awesome experience to be a part of," said Cashman, who lives in Darien. "This is the place to be tonight and it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of Stamford's rappelling team ... I just hope the audience enjoyed it because it was about putting on a show."
Cashman joined Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph and the Grinch as a guest elf at the Stamford Downtown Special Services District's Heights & Lights celebration Sunday, making a 22-story descent of the Landmark Building before taking part in a procession up Bedford Street to light a tree in Latham Park.
Looking on, Yankees fan Mike Lockwood, who attended with his 11-year-old son, Zack, and girlfriend, Georgia Monahan, said he was happy to cheer on Cashman, particularly after he presided over the weekend re-signing of Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter to a three-year $51-million deal.
"He's great in my book now that he signed Derek Jeter," said Lockwood, a Stamford native. "Jeter is the New York Yankees' modern day Lou Gehrig and he deserves whatever he gets paid."
Zack Lockwood said besides enjoying the sight of front-yard light displays, he enjoys getting together with his family on Christmas Day itself.
"Getting all the families together for the Christmas meal is great," Zack said.
In Latham Park, children and parents clapped as Dan Micciche, a 25-year-old Stamford native and professional singer, belted out Christmas carols alongside fellow Broadway performers, including "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."
Dylan Bauer, 7, and his younger brother, Colin Bauer, 5, of Stratford, said the high point of the event would be getting to see Santa Claus.
Colin Bauer said he wants Legos for Christmas, and Dylan wants a Donkey Kong Returns game cartridge for his Wii game system. Colin said he particularly enjoys the daily Christmas ritual of eating chocolate from his advent calendar.
"That's the best part of getting ready for Christmas," Bauer said.
After the tree and a menorah were lit in Latham Park, Cashman, still clad in tights and an elf cap, took questions from New York sports writers about the upcoming winter trade meetings in Orlando, Fla., and possible off-season free agent acquisitions, including pitcher Cliff Lee.
After having spent the latter part of this week hammering out a contract with Jeter and preparing for his role as an elf, Cashman said he still has a lot of work to do.
"The past four days have been really busy," Cashman said. "If I had to pick a favorite part I'd say all of it. I'm really glad that I was able to do this without missing a beat on my job."
Jeff Van Orsdel, the professional rock climber who oversaw Cashman's training for the event, said the preparation work was done at the Reebok Sports Club in Manhattan during a short window of time in Cashman's schedule.
"The main things is getting comfortable handling the ropes and he did great," Van Orsdel said.
Staff Writer Martin B. Cassidy can be reached at email@example.com or at 203-964-2264.