Then 11, Cole was caught on camera holding up that message in the seats at Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Phoenix. The lettering of the tape he used has faded from blue to tan in the years since.
He spurned the Yankees when they drafted him 28th overall in 2008, choosing to enroll at UCLA. He signed with Pittsburgh three years later after he was selected first overall. Now as a free agent, he finally was fitted for pinstripes. Financial terms were not disclosed when the Yankees announced the nine-year contract with a player opt-out after the 2024 season, but ESPN's Jeff Passan has reported the value of the deal is $324 million, a record amount for a pitcher in both its total and its average annual value of $36 million.
"It was my dream. I had a second opportunity to chase it," he said.
Cole put on a No. 45 jersey, the number that had belonged to first baseman Luke Voit.
Voit said in a tweet that he will be wearing No. 59 in honor of his brother, who wore the number while playing football at West Point.
The 29-year-old Cole's beard was newly shorn to comply with Yankees team rules.
"He cleans up nice, doesn't he?" Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
The right-hander had been known for a scruffy look.
"I've experienced razor burn now for the first time," he said.
Boone said he was "blown away" by "his passion for what he does, his ability to articulate that passion."
New York hopes Cole will lead a young core that includes Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres to the Yankees' first title since 2009.
"We need to win some world championships," owner Hal Steinbrenner said. ''Plural."
Cole was 20-5 with an AL-leading 2.50 ERA and a major league-leading 326 strikeouts for Houston last season.
His wife, Amy, the sister of San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford, watched the news conference from the dais.
New York forfeited its second- and fifth-highest draft picks, roughly No. 62 and No. 164 overall. Houston gets an extra pick as compensation, approximately No. 74.
To clear a roster spot, the Yankees designated right-hander Chance Adams for assignment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Cole brings childhood sign to signing day with the Yankees
Gerrit Cole brings out a sign he made and brought to a Yankees World Series game as a kid back in 2001 to his introductory press conference.