We are in a world where traditional publishing is becoming more and more of a dinosaur. However for some brands, strong ones with deep followings that may skew a bit older, the old hard copy of a book or a magazine is still going strong. One example is Yankees Magazine, a 300 hundred plus page monthly publication that is published by the club about all things in and around the Yankees brand. From the traditional stories on players and traditions now and past to features on those who come and visit, from Notre Dame football head coach Brian Kelly to author Mary Higgins Clark, the publication is much more informational than propaganda, and is still a great read for due hard and casual sports fans when most teams have stopped putting the time and effort into such books. Of course there are companion video and digital pieces, but for a monthly publication, Yankees Magazine is still a big piece of the Pinstripes’ media arsenal.
We caught up with senior director of publications Al Santasiere to find out more about how he got to the club and what it’s like assembling such a massive book in this digital age.
Yankees Magazine is such a powerful brand. How did you get started with the team?
I began as a media relations assistant in 2003, after I completed internships in the media relations departments of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Baltimore Orioles and the Miami Dolphins. A few months after I began with the Yankees, the senior editor of publications position became available, and I moved into that role. I was promoted a few times in my first few seasons in publications, and I ultimately became the department head and editor-in-chief of Yankees Magazine in 2006.
What are the elements of your job you enjoy the most?
I enjoy conducting interviews and writing feature stories the most. I have had wonderful opportunities to cover so many great Yankees for exclusive stories. And I’ve had the opportunity to interview just as many icons in and outside of sports for our Art of Sport Q&A piece, including Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and my all-time favorite athlete, Dan Marino. It’s hard to top those experiences.
We live in such a digital world, yet the publication continues to do really well. What are some of the things you do to keep a monthly magazine relevant?
We publish the most in-depth coverage that you will find on any professional sports team in North America. In every issue of Yankees Magazine, there are features that take our fans into our players’ lives, and many times, into their current-day homes or hometowns.
You have been a part of many memorable moments, what are the one or two that stand out? Of course, the 2009 World Series and the parade two days later will always be a special memory. Besides that experience, Derek Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium, the final game of his career, which took place at Fenway Park, and Mariano Rivera’s final game, really stand out.
What is a typical publication cycle like for you?
It’s about a three-week cycle. There’s a lot to do on every one of those days from planning out the issue, writing the stories, editing the stories, reviewing designed stories and then signing off on final proofs and printing the issue.
Do you have to be a “fan” of the team to do what you do?
Not necessary, but it does help. I’m passionate and knowledgeable about the Yankees, and I think that comes out in what I write.
You also teach at St. John’s University, how are you able to fit that into your schedule and why?
It’s difficult, but it’s something that I enjoy immensely, so I make it work. I find myself preparing for my class after games or late at night. Fortunately, the Yankees have allowed me to miss the regular season games that conflict with my class — which is held one night a week. If we are in the postseason, I have to skip those classes.
What advice do you give young people today looking to break into sports media?
Try to gain as much professional experience as you can while you are in college or graduate school. It’s a competitive field, and the best way to help yourself land that elusive first full-time job is to show employers that you have more practical experience than everyone else who has applied. Also, always act professionally. There’s no reason for one silly tweet or Facebook photo to take away progress that was made through hard work.