Hometown Yankee Harrison Bader sharing postseason moments with family: ‘Feel a part of it’

Louis Bader was in his home office in Bronxville when he heard his son’s phone ring upstairs. The trade deadline was bearing down on everyone, and the retired tax attorney had felt something big could happen for his boy Harrison, who had returned to rehab a foot injury that was taking forever to heal.

A few minutes later, the St. Louis Cardinals center fielder headed downstairs to share something with his first coach.

“Hey Dad,” Harrison said.

“I guess you were just traded to the Yankees, right?” Louis interrupted.

“What?” the stunned ballplayer said.

“Isn’t that what you were going to tell me?”

The two men fell into each other’s arms. One of them wanted to be Mickey Mantle or Roger Maris — take your pick — and the other wanted to be Derek Jeter, at least until some choppy local infields chased young Harrison from shortstop to center.

“It was thrilling for an hour or two, like, ‘Oh my God. I can’t believe it. Wow, wow, wow,’ ” Louis told The Post by phone. “But then we remembered it’s a business, and people get traded, and just being sent to the Yankees isn’t enough. This doesn’t mean anything. Now you have to get healthy. You’ve got to perform. Will you even play this year?”

Though he grew up in Westchester County adoring the same Yankees adored by his 66-year-old father, a Rockland County guy by way of Spring Valley, Harrison loved playing for the Cardinals. He would’ve been perfectly happy spending his entire career in St. Louis, one of America’s great baseball towns.

“It’s a challenge to play in New York, with an enormous amount of pressure,” Louis Bader said. “Harrison wasn’t sure if or how he could handle it. It was almost good that he was hurt when traded.”

Bader was walking around in a boot while the pitcher he was dealt for, Jordan Montgomery, was lighting it up for the Cardinals. Though fans were crushing general manager Brian Cashman, Bader used the down time to watch and learn what it meant to be a big-time athlete in the big-city cauldron. He absorbed a towering study in grace in the form of Aaron Judge, and soon enough the plantar fasciitis relented enough to allow Bader to join Judge in the outfield and to escort the big man back to his natural position in right.

Seven weeks after the trade, Harrison Bader debuted with two hits and three RBIs on the wildest night of the season — Judge hit homer No. 60 in the ninth before Giancarlo Stanton’s walk-off grand slam gave the Yankees a 9-8 victory over Pittsburgh on Sept. 20.

“I had to say to Harrison after his first couple of games, when he said how great the fans are in an interview, ‘Yeah, they’re great … until they’re not great,’ ” Louis Bader said. “I told him many times that until 1961 Yankees fans routinely booed Mickey Mantle. If you are one of the greatest players who ever lived and fans routinely boo you, what does that tell you? Harrison knows this and understands it.”

So that’s why late Tuesday night, Bader said that he tried to show as little emotion as possible after becoming the first player to hit his first home run as a Yankee in the postseason. Bader cited his parents — his mother, Janice, was a talented youth basketball player and Sports Illustrated marketing executive — among those who have helped him, in his words, “Channel that energy appropriately,” and remain as close to room temperature as he can.

With his parents, sister Sasha and at least 100 other relatives and friends in the Stadium for the opening Division Series victory over Cleveland, Bader made a game-changing, run-saving defensive play in the top of the third when he cut off Jose Ramirez’s double. He then made a game-changing, run-scoring offensive play in the bottom of the third when he ripped Cal Quantrill’s full-count sinker over the left-field wall.

From his seat on the first-base side, Louis was wishing his own father Harry, a Ruth-Gehrig-DiMaggio guy who owned the old Bader’s Hotel in Spring Valley, was still around to see his grandson make big October plays for the Yanks. Louis was filled with pride as Harrison rounded the bases, but quickly remembered those boos for Mantle. “And then I tried to temper it,” he said, “and keep an even head.”

Much easier said than done. When Harrison was a boy, his father would return from his Verizon job in the evenings, grab a bucket of 30 baseballs and drive around in search of an open field in Eastchester, Yonkers or The Bronx. Harrison wore a helmet and his old man stood 35 feet away and threw to him, before dodging the lethal liners coming back his way. Sometimes Louis intentionally hit his son with pitches (below the shoulders, of course) to prepare him for higher-velocity impact in competition, and Harrison got angry.

Harrison Bader believes he was meant to be Yankee: ‘Happened for a reason’
“If you want to be good, you can’t be afraid to be hit,” Louis told him. “You’ll thank me for this one day.”

Harrison did later thank him for the old-school lessons, and for all the Yankee games that Louis and Janice treated him to during the Jeter/Mariano Rivera years. Harrison also loved his skiing trips out west with his dad; the kid was a better skier than baseball player and was fearless in his approach. Louis believes his son could’ve grown into an Olympian, but he was worried about the dangers of the sport even before Harrison navigated his way through two avalanches.

“Baseball was the much safer route,” Louis said. “When he finishes his career in 11 or 12 years, I hope I’m healthy enough to ski with him again.”

Meanwhile, a decade after starring for Horace Mann in The Bronx, Bader has a shot to win a World Series title a little more than 5 miles down the road. Funny that his manager is Aaron Boone. In the crowd for Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, gearing up for the bottom of the 11th after Rivera had pitched three innings, Louis turned to Janice and said, “Boone had better effin’ hit a home run now, because Mo is done.” One pitch later, Boone made history.

Now the Baders watch their son try to do the same. Louis was thrilled when Harrison cleaned up his St. Louis look to meet Yankee standards. “I hated that hair and beard,” he said. Louis was just as thrilled to sit next to Roger Maris Jr. in Toronto.

But the best part, so far, is this part: Harrison is spending the postseason in his old bedroom in Bronxville, reunited with his parents, sister and beloved Goldendoodle Riley. “He hasn’t forgotten about us,” Louis said. “We feel a part of it.”