NEW YORK (AP) -- Yogi Berra talked to the prize free agent about tradition. Joe Torre told him about the clubhouse atmosphere. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani teased him about tearing up opposing pitchers.
Turned out Jason Giambi didn't need much convincing. He'd always wanted to play for the New York Yankees.
After weeks of anticipation, Giambi and the Yankees made it official Thursday: The slugging first baseman signed a $120 million, seven-year contract.
"This is my best fit," Giambi said. "This was the team I was hoping would come after me."
"It's humbling," he said. "There's a man out there (Barry Bonds) who just broke Mark McGwire's record, and they're going, 'No, we don't want him, we want you."'
Giambi, the clean-cut, former wild child from Oakland, seemed a bit overwhelmed by it all. And when he briefly choked up on the Yankee Stadium podium, Torre reassured him.
"It's OK," the manager said. "We're used to that."
Yet even on a team that's won four of the last six World Series championships, Torre and the Yankees are not accustomed to seeing a power-packed player such as Giambi.
The 2000 AL MVP, Giambi was runner-up for the award this season after hitting .342 with 38 homers and 120 RBIs for Oakland.
Giambi, 30, also led the league in on-base percentage (.477) and slugging (.660) last season.
"Jason Giambi has a star quality that fits in New York," Giuliani said.
"He'll add a dimension to the Yankees that's terrific as a slugger, the way Reggie Jackson did and Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth -- all left-handed power hitters."
The mayor was among several luminaries who recently called Giambi, trying to lure him to New York. Torre, Berra and Roger Clemens also phoned, and former Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly wrote him a letter.
"I'll tell you one of the things I said to him: I told him that right-handed pitchers are going to be worried about coming to Yankee Stadium two weeks before they arrive there, thinking about the fact that they have to face him," Giuliani said.
Giambi said Giuliani's call may have meant the most.
"He's such an incredible man and such a Yankees fan," Giambi said. "He talked to me forever."
Giambi also grew up rooting for Yankees. As a kid in California, he idolized Mantle.
Unable to wear the No. 16 he sported in Oakland -- the Yankees have retired it to honor Hall of Famer Whitey Ford -- Giambi put on his new uniform with the No. 25.
Giambi picked the number because the digits added up to the Mick's No. 7.
"Well, pop, it's not 7, but it's pinstripes," he told his dad.
His father, John, sat a few feet away and could hardly stop smiling. Giambi's contract included a club option for an eighth year.
"You have the most incredible surroundings to win," Giambi said. "Besides the money, all the other things, the intangibles."
One thing that was very visible: a clean-cut Giambi, who said, "I wanted to make sure it was cut and shaved."
His hair was free flowing and hung almost to his shoulders when he starred for the Athletics. That's not the Yankees' style, and Giambi seemed comfortable with his hair well above the collar.
"I'm just very happy to have him," owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "He's one great kid and I know he's going to be a great Yankee."
After losing Game 7 of this year's Series to Arizona, New York swiftly made changes.
The Yankees traded for third baseman Robin Ventura and outfielder John Vander Wal and signed free agent Steve Karsay. They have reached preliminary agreements with outfielder Rondell White and pitcher Sterling Hitchcock.
"The Yankees are the Yankees," Boston general manager Dan Duquette said. "We have to compete against them, and I'm sure we will. But there isn't a team that has the resources to compete with the Yankees."
Giambi's left-handed power stroke is ideal for Yankee Stadium, with its short right field. He is a career .245 hitter at the park, with just one home run in 102 regular-season at-bats, but that was against New York's stellar staff.
The Yankees chased the A's from the playoffs in the last two seasons, both times in a decisive Game 5. Last October, Giambi went 4-for-4 while Oakland lost 5-3 in the final game.
Giambi takes over for first baseman Tino Martinez, who hit 34 homers.
"I know I'm replacing a great Yankee," Giambi said. "He's a winner. He's got World Series rings to prove it."
Torre said he was not sure where Giambi would hit in the lineup.
Last spring, Giambi turned down a $91 million, six-year extension offered by the Athletics because they refused to include a no-trade clause.
"The A's never moved where they stood," Giambi said.
On Thursday, Athletics co-owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann tried to explain how such a popular player got away.
"The Oakland Athletics made Jason a solid offer that would've paid him more than one-third of our team's annual payroll," they said in a statement. "This is just another example that the economic problems of major league baseball are out of control."
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