Results tagged ‘ Graig Nettles ’
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez became the first rookie in major league history to win the Player of the Week Award in consecutive weeks Monday as he was named American League Player of the Week again for the period ending Aug. 28.
Sanchez batted .522 with seven runs, three doubles, five home runs and nine RBI over six games and 23 at-bats to claim his second straight weekly honor. He was the first player to win the award in successive weeks since the White Sox’ Albert Belle in 1998 (July 6-12 and July 13-19). Sanchez is the fourth Yankees player to win consecutive awards. The others were Don Mattingly in 1987 (July 6-12 and July 13-19), Dave Winfield in 1983 (Aug. 1-7 and Aug. 8-14) and Graig Nettles in 1974 (April 8-14 and April 15-21). Sanchez has already won the award as often as the only other Yankees catcher honored, Thurman Munson, another two-time winner.
Sanchez finished the period first in extra-base hits (eight), slugging percentage (1.304) and total bases (30); tied for first in home runs; second in batting average, on-base percentage (.607) and RBI; tied for third in runs; tied for fourth in hits and tied for sixth in doubles and walks (five).
Sanchez began his award-winning week last Monday night with a two-homer game against the Mariners at Seattle’s Safeco Field, his second career two-homer game after also hitting two jacks Aug. 16 against the Blue Jays. The Dominican Republic native became the first player in franchise history with two multi-homer games within his first 19 career games.
Saturday against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Sanchez hit his third home run in three days and the 11th of his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the right-handed-swinging, 23-year-old Triple A call-up became the first Yankees player since Tino Martinez (April 5-15, 2005) to club nine home runs in a 10-game span, dating back to Aug. 16.
In his 23rd career game, Sanchez became the quickest player in major league history to hit his first 11 home runs. Additionally, his 11-homer month extended his Yankees rookie record for home runs in a calendar month. The Brewers’ Ryan Braun was the previous bug-league rookie to launch 11 homers in a calendar month, in July of his 2007 National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award-winning season.
Sanchez was the AL Player of the Week for Aug. 8-15 when he had a slash line of .524/.600/1.190 with four runs, two doubles, four homers, six RBI, four walks and one stolen base in 25 plate appearances.
Teammate Starlin Castro (.370, 6 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI) was also in contention for last week’s award, along with Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (.391, 9 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI); Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 13 IP, 11 K), Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (.394, 13 H, 3 HR, 7 RBI); Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (.600, .643 OBP, 15 H, 2 SB); Red Sox pitcher David Price (2-0, 1.29 ERA, 14 IP, 15 K); Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (.435, .739 SLG, 10 H, 4 2B) and Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (.462, 5 R, 12 H, 2 HR).
A former teammate of Sanchez was also honored Monday. Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s Jonathan Holder was named International League Pitcher of the Week for Aug. 22-28 after posting two saves and striking out 16-of-20 batters over three scoreless appearances in which the righthander allowed two hits in six innings. In Sunday’s victory over Rochester that clinched a postseason berth for the RailRiders, Holder struck out 12-of-13 batters in four scoreless innings, including 11 K’s in a row. In 12 appearances at Triple-A, Holder is 2-0 with six saves and a 0.89 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman believes that once Derek Jeter retires, the captaincy of the Yankees should retire as well.
Speaking to the Taylor Hooton Foundation’s fifth annual “Give A Hoot” benefit in a luxury suite at Yankee Stadium Sunday, Cash was asked who should succeed Jeter as team captain after his retirement.
Cashman’s response was “I’m not that big on captains myself. More than one player can lead by example. DJ has had this remarkable career, and I think when this great player retires the captaincy should go with him, but that’s not my call.”
Actually, the Yankees once went more than 35 years without a captain and during that time the team won 12 World Series titles. Lou Gehrig had been the Yankees’ captain for 13 years when he was forced into retirement due to illness in 1939. Then manager Joe McCarthy proclaimed that the Yankees would never again have another captain.
The idea of another Yankees captain was not broached seriously until after George Steinbrenner purchased the club in 1973. Three years later, he recommended Thurman Munson for the role. Told in a meeting of what McCarthy had said 37 years earlier, the Boss said, “I am sure Mr. McCarthy would change his mind if he had met Mr. Munson.”
The catcher served in the role until his death in Aug. 2, 1979. Jeter has been the Yankees’ captain the past 11 years. The previous team captain was Don Mattingly, who retired after the 1995 season. Other former Yankees captains in the Steinbrenner years were Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry and Graig Nettles.
As Cashman pointed out, it is not his call. An owner or a manager or a group of players could well start a campaign for a captain at any time. I am with the GM on this one. You never say never, but I would not mind waiting another 37 years. Jeter’s shoes are just as great to fill as were Gehrig’s.
The Yankees trail in the American League Championship Series, 0-3, for the first time in 10 ALCS appearances since the advent of the best-of-7 format in 1985. It is the fourth time in 71 postseason series that the Yankees have trailed 0-3. The other times were all in the World Series, in 1922 against the Giants (which included a Game 2 tie), 1963 against the Dodgers and 1976 against the Reds. In each case, the Yankees lost in four games.
This is the fifth time in 27 ALCS under the best-of-7 drill that a team has taken a 3-0 lead in the series. The only team to rally from 0-3 to win the ALCS was the 2004 Red Sox against the Yankees. Each of the other three teams to go down 0-3 were swept in four games – 1988 Red Sox, by the Athletics; 1990 Red Sox, by the A’s; 2006 A’s, by the Tigers. . .In each of their six ALCS, the Tigers have won Game 3, with all six games coming at home: 3-0 against the A’s in 1972; 1-0 against the Royals in 1984; 7-6 against the Twins in 1987; 3-0 against the Athletics in 2006; 5-2 against the Rangers in 2011 and 2-1 against the Yankees in 2012. The Tigers have won five of their past six ALCS games in Detroit.
Tigers Game 3 starter Justin Verlander ran his consecutive postseason shutout innings streak to 23 before he allowed a run in the ninth inning of Game 3 on the home run by Eduardo Nunez. It was the first home run Verlander yielded in the ninth inning of his career, postseason included. Nunez was the 85th batter the Verlander has faced in the ninth inning in his career. The Yankees did not score in 20 straight innings before Nunez’s homer. They were also shut out in 20 straight innings in the 2000 postseason against the Athletics (ALDS) and Mariners (ALCS).
Robinson Cano ended his streak of hitless at-bats at 29 with a two-out single in the ninth inning. It was the longest postseason hitless stretch in franchise history. The MLB record is 42 straight hitless at-bats by Mariners catcher Dan Wilson. . . Eric Chavez has started the 2012 postseason without a hit in 14 at-bats, which ties the longest streak by a Yankees player at the start of a postseason. Graig Nettles began the 1981 postseason with 14 hitless at-bats. The major-league record for hitless at-bats at the start of a postseason is 22 by the Cardinals’ Dal Maxvill in the 1968 World Series against the Tigers.
Alex Rodriguez, who was on the bench in Game 3, was not the only player with 600 or more career home runs to sit out a postseason game for which he was eligible. There were three others – Ken Griffey Jr. (Game 2 of the 2008 ALDS for the White Sox against the Rays), Willie Mays (Games 1 through 4 of the 1973 NLCS for the Mets against the Reds and Games 4 through 7 of the 1973 World Series for the Mets against the A’s) and Jim Thome (Games 1 and 5 of the 2012 ALDS for the Orioles against the Yankees). Babe Ruth played in all four games of the 1932 World Series for the Yankees against the Cubs, the only postseason series of his career that came after he hit his 600th home run. Barry Bonds played in all 17 of the Giants’ postseason games in 2002 and all four Giants’ postseason games in 2003, the only two postseasons to come after his 600th homer. Henry Aaron and Sammy Sosa did not play on teams that advanced to postseason play following their 600th home runs.
Through eight postseason games this year, the Yankees are batting .200 in 290 at-bats. The previous low-water mark for the Yankees’ first eight postseason games was .207 in the 1921 World Series against the Giants, which was then a best-of-9. Only two Yankees teams have finished a postseason with lower batting averages, the World Series clubs of 1962 (.199 in a 7-game victory over the Giants) and 1963 (.171 in a 4-game loss to the Dodgers). . .Through eight postseason games, the Yankees’ team ERA is 2.25, which would be the 10th-best for a single postseason in franchise history. It is the lowest mark since the team’s 1.60 ERA in the Yanks’ 5-game World Series victory over the Reds in 1961.
Miguel Cabrera’s fifth-inning double extended his LCS hitting streak to 16 games, dating to the 2003 National League Championship Series for the Marlins, breaking the previous mark of 15 straight LCS games with hits by Pete Rose and Manny Ramirez. . . Cabrera has reached base safely in all 19 career postseason games with the Tigers. His streak set a franchise record, passing the 18-game mark of Hank Greenberg from Oct. 3, 1934 to Oct. 4, 1945. During the 19-game streak, Cabrera is batting .303 with seven doubles, four home runs, 13 RBI, 10 runs scored, 16 walks and one hit batter in 66 at-bats. Only one player in history began his postseason career with a single team with a longer streak of reaching base – Boog Powell, who reached base in his first 25 postseason games with the Orioles from 1966-71. Cabrera has failed to reach base in two of his 36 career postseason games with the Marlins and Tigers.
Delmon Young has five home runs over consecutive postseason series against the Yankees – the 2011 ALDS and 2012 ALCS. Young is one of only five players with a combined five home runs in consecutive postseason series against the Yankees. Duke Snider did it three times (4 HR in 1952 World Series, 1 HR in 1953 World Series, 4 HR in 1955 World Series, 1 HR in 1956 World Series). The others are George Brett (3 HR in 1978 ALCS, 2 HR in 1980 ALCS), Juan Gonzalez (5 HR in 1996 ALDS, 0 HR in 1998 ALDS) and David Ortiz (2 HR in 2003 ALCS, 3 HR in 2004 ALCS). Chase Utley (2008 World Series) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1995 ALDS) each hit five home runs in one postseason against the Yankees, but they have not faced the Yankees again in the postseason.
With each game it seems Derek Jeter reaches another milestone. He hit a pair of them in the first inning alone Monday night at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field in a four-hit game that was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing game for the Yankees. They blew leads of 3-0 and 6-5 with the White Sox using four home runs to construct a 9-6 victory as the Yanks’ lead in the American League East fell to four games over Tampa Bay.
Jeter led off the game with a single, which he does a lot. DJ is hitting .391 in 110 at-bats leading off games in 2012 and .355 in 872 at-bats for his career. The hit was career No. 3,252 for Jeter, who tied Nap Lajoie for 12th place on the all-time list. Jeter eventually scored on a two-out single by Mark Teixeira. That was career run No. 1,844 for Jeter as he tied Craig Biggio for 13th place on that all-time list.
It did not take Jeter long to break the tie with Lajoie with an infield single in the third for his 3,253rd career hit which left him only two behind No. 11 Eddie Murray. The Captain still has a way to go to catch the 12th-place guy in runs, Mel Ott, at 1,859.
Teixeira returned to the lineup after sitting out the weekend series at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox to nurse a sore left wrist. Curtis Granderson singled in a run in the second as the Yanks took a 3-0 lead against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, who was surrounded by base runners in his brief time on the mound.
Considering that Floyd allowed five hits, four walks and a hit batter, the Yankees should have done better than to just knock him out of the game one out into the third inning, but they stranded eight runners over the first five innings against Floyd and left-handed reliever Hector Santiago.
Freddy Garcia was cruising along until he hit a wall with one out in the fifth. After getting his eighth strikeout for the first out of the inning, Garcia put the next five batters on base. DeWayne Wise started Chicago’s comeback with a two-run home run off his former teammate. Wise had been a valuable utility outfielder for the Yankees before he was designated for assignment last month to create roster space for Ichiro Suzuki, who was acquired from the Mariners.
Garcia was replaced after loading the bases on a single and two walks. Manager Joe Girardi went to his bullpen using Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada and Joba Chamberlain, but after a force play and two singles the White Sox had taken a 5-3 lead.
Jeter led the Yankees’ comeback with a home run, his 11th, leading off the sixth, crawling one hit behind Murray. It was also Jeter’s 251st home run, which pushed him past Graig Nettles into ninth place on the franchise list. Ironically, it came on Nettles’ 68th birthday. The Yankees added two more runs on singles by Teixeira and pinch hitter Casey McGehee.
Chamberlain’s continuing troubles cost the Yankees the lead in the bottom of the sixth. He had given up a run-scoring single the previous inning and was taken deep by Gordon Beckham that tied the score again. Opposing hitters are batting .455 against Chamberlain, whose ERA swelled to 9.45.
Other relievers had problems, too. Boone Logan was touched for a two-run home run by Alexei Ramirez in the seventh inning and Derek Lowe yielded a solo shot to Adam Dunn in the eighth.
Jeter got even with Murray in lifetime hits when he doubled with two out in the seventh for his fourth hit of the game and 3,255th of his career. Cap leads the majors in hits with 167, five more than he had all of last year, and ranks third in the majors with 51 multi-hit games, six more than his 2011 total.
The good news is that the Yankees will have six players on the American League roster, four in the starting lineup, for the All-Star Game July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. The bad news is that several deserving players from the Yankees will not be making the trip next week to Arizona.
Let’s start with the positive. The Yankees will make up three-quarters of the AL starting infield for the third time in franchise history with second baseman Robinson Cano, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter.
The only other time the Yankees had three infielders elected to the starting unit was for the 2004 game at Minute Maid Park in Houston with Rodriguez, Jeter and first baseman Jason Giambi.
The Yankees also had three starting infielders in 1980 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, but only one – shortstop Bucky Dent – had been elected by the fans. Graig Nettles started at third base as a replacement for injured George Brett of the Royals. The Brewers’ Paul Molitor was voted the starter at second base but had to be replaced due to injury as well. The Angels’ Bobby Grich was added to the roster, but the Yankees’ Willie Randolph started the game at the position.
This will mark the 10th time that the Yankees have had at least three infielders on the All-Star roster. First baseman Mark Teixeira’s failure to make the squad this year cost the Yankees the chance to have four infielders overall for the third time. The Yankees had four infield All-Stars in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee (Jeter, Giambi, 2B Alfonoso Soriano, 3B Robin Ventura) and in 1939 at Yankee Stadium (1B Lou Gehrig, 2B Joe Gordon, 3B Red Rolfe, SS Frankie Crosetti). Giambi and Soriano were starters in 2004 and Gordon in 1939.
Other years in which the Yankees had three All-Star infielders were 1950 at Comiskey Park in Chicago (1B Tommy Henrich, 2B Jerry Coleman, SS Phil Rizzuto), 1957 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis (1B Moose Skowron, 2B Bobby Richardson, SS Gil McDougald), Game 1 in 1959 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh (Skowron, Richardson, SS Tony Kubek), Game 2 in 1959 at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles (Skowron, Kubek, McDougald) and 2006 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh (Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez).
Yankees catcher Russell Martin had led in the voting until the last week when he was passed by the Tigers’ Alex Avila. At least Martin made the team as an alternate. His handling of the Yanks’ pitching staff has been superb.
Mariano Rivera was an obvious choice for the staff despite his blown save Sunday, which ended a 26-save streak against National League clubs in inter-league play.
Now for the head-scratching stuff – why no Teixeira or CC Sabathia? And has anyone other than Yankees fans been paying attention to the season David Robertson is having?
Tex fell out of the balloting lead at first base last month behind the Red Sox’ Adrian Gonzalez, an admitted Most Valuable Player Award candidate, but still ran a strong second in the voting. The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera cannot compare with Teixeira defensively and trails him in homers, 25-17, and RBI, 65-56, but his .328 batting average is 80 points higher than Tex’s.
Now, here’s the rub. Teixeira has been invited to participate in the Home Run Derby. Nice. He can’t be on the team but he can fly all the way to Phoenix and take part in an exercise that could ruin his swing. Ask Bobby Abreu or David Wright about that? Say no, Tex.
All Sabathia has done is lead the AL in victories with 11 and posted a 3.05 ERA. Oh, that’s right. Pitching victories do not count anymore. I guess that’s why there was room for Felix Hernandez on the staff. The word is that CC pitching Sunday before the Tuesday night All-Star Game hurt his chances of making the team. Dumb reason.
To his credit, AL manager Ron Washington of the Rangers said nice things about Robertson when Texas was in town and that he was given him strong consideration. With so many other Yankees on the team, Robertson didn’t stand much of a chance, particularly since every team needs to be represented. When you see the Royals’ Aaron Crow in the pre-game announcements, think of Robertson. Crow, also a set-up reliever, is Kansas City’ lone representative.
It is a tough break for Robertson, but he is no more deserving than Sabathia, so it is hard to say he was snubbed. A lot of people don’t like the baseball rule about All-Star Games having to have players from each team, but I think it is a good thing. The 2012 game is supposed to be in Kansas City. It would be a shame if someone from the Royals was not on the team.
Each club no matter where it is in the standings has someone who deserves All-Star recognition. That the Yankees have so many is a testament to the terrific season the team is having.
Fans planning to attend Sunday’s 65th annual Old Timers’ Day are encouraged to get to Yankee Stadium early. Gates will open at 10 a.m. with the Old Timers’ Day ceremonies to start at 11:30 a.m., followed by the traditional, two-inning Old Timers’ Day game. The regularly scheduled inter-league game between the Yankees and the Rockies will have a first pitch of 2:20 p.m. The entire day’s activities will be cablecast on the YES Network.
Bernie Williams and former managers Lou Piniella and Joe Torre will be making their Old Timers’ Day debuts. “Sweet Lou” will be putting on a Yankees uniform for the first time since 1988. Torre, whose Yankees teams defeated Piniella’s Seattle Mariners in the 2000 and 2001 post-seasons, is still active in the game as Major League Baseball’s vice president for baseball operations.
They will be among 50 former Yankees on hand for the ceremonies. Other headliners among returning Old Timers will be Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage, plus the perfect game trio of Don Larsen, David Wells and David Cone. The Yankees will also hold a special tribute honoring long-time team trainer Gene Monahan, who will retire at season’s end after 49 years of service to the organization.
In addition, players and coaches from Yankees championship teams of the past will include Dr. Bobby Brown, Jerry Coleman, Moose Skowron, Luis Arroyo, Homer Bush, Brian Doyle, Cecil Fielder, Joe Girardi, Dwight Gooden, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Gene Michael, Jeff Nelson, Graig Nettles, Joe Pepitone, Mickey Rivers, Charlie Silvera, Darryl Strawberry, Mel Stottlemyre and Roy White.
Joining the Hall of Famers and other former Yankees on the baselines will be the widows of five legendary Yankees – Arlene Howard (Elston), Helen Hunter (Jim “Catfish”), Jill Martin (Billy), Diana Munson (Thurman) and Kay Murcer (Bobby).
Is there a question you’d like to ask a Yankees legend? Of course you have. Yankees Universe members will get the chance to pose a query to any of the former Yankees who are scheduled to attend the 65th annual Old Timers’ Day Sunday, June, 26, before the Yankees’ inter-league game against the Rockies at Yankee Stadium.
You can pick your favorite former Yankee from among a choice field, including Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson or Goose Gossage. Or maybe one of the pitchers who threw perfect games for the Yankees – Don Larsen, David Wells or David Cone. Or any one of a number of players who were on World Series championship teams for the Yankees over the years, from Jerry Coleman to Moose Skowron to Joe Pepitone to Roy White to Ron Guidry to Graig Nettles to Charlie Hayes to Bernie Williams.
Or maybe you’d prefer to ask a question of a manager. Take your choice among Lou Piniella, Joe Torre or Joe Girardi.
The Yankees will select questions and conduct interviews. The answers will be posted on the members-only section of yankees.com prior to July 15. Please submit your questions by 5 p.m. Thursday, June 23.
Are you ready to consider Bernie Williams an old timer? Well, get used to it. Bernabe will make his first appearance on Old Timers’ Day when Yankees alumni gather for the 65th annual event Sunday, June 26, at Yankee Stadium.
Also making their Old Timers’ Day debuts will be former managers Lou Piniella and Joe Torre. “Sweet Lou” will be putting on a Yankees uniform for the first time since 1988. Torre, whose Yankees teams defeated Piniella’s Seattle Mariners in the 2000 and 2001 post-seasons, is still active in the game as Major League Baseball’s vice president for baseball operations.
They will be among 50 former Yankees on hand for the ceremonies that begin at 11:30 a.m., followed by the traditional, two-inning Old Timers’ game. The current Yankees will play the Colorado Rockies in an inter-league game starting at 2 p.m. The entire day’s activities will be aired exclusively on the YES Network.
Other headliners among returning Old Timers will be Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage, plus the perfect game trio of Don Larsen, David Wells and David Cone. The Yankees will also hold a special tribute honoring long-time team trainer Gene Monahan, who will retire at season’s end after 49 years of service to the organization.
In addition, other players and coaches from Yankees championship teams of the past will include Dr. Bobby Brown, Jerry Coleman, Moose Skowron, Luis Arroyo, Homer Bush, Brian Doyle, Cecil Fielder, Joe Girardi, Dwight Gooden, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Gene Michael, Jeff Nelson, Graig Nettles, Joe Pepitone, Mickey Rivers, Charlie Silvera, Darryl Strawberry, Mel Stottlemyre and Roy White.
Joining the Hall of Famers and other former Yankees on the baselines will be the widows of five legendary Yankees – Arlene Howard (Elston), Helen Hunter (Jim “Catfish”), Jill Martin (Billy), Diana Munson (Thurman) and Kay Murcer (Bobby).
More than any other team in the majors, the Yankees make it difficult for a new player to receive his preferred uniform number. The main reason is that the Yankees have retired 14 numbers (including 8 twice, for both Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra), the most of any team. In the case of the three players traded to the Yankees over the weekend, two were able to get the numbers they had worn for their previous clubs, and none of the three numbers issued had been retired.
First baseman-designated hitter Lance Berkman received No. 17, which he had worn throughout his career in the National League with the Astros. Outfielder Austin Kearns got No. 26, the same number he had worn in his time with the Indians. Kearns’ preferred number would have been 28, which he wore with the Reds and the Nationals. He was unable to get it in Cleveland because it was worn by pitcher David Huff, now in the minors, and had no chance with the Yankees since 28 is the number of manager Joe Girardi.
Relief pitcher Kerry Wood, who made his Yankees debut in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Rays, was given No. 39, the first time he has worn a number in the majors other than 34, which he had with both the Cubs and the Indians. Number 34 was not available because it belongs to pitcher A.J. Burnett.
The matter of uniform numbers can get dicey. A lot of players have jewelry made up with their numbers, and the trinkets become useless if they can’t get their number with a new team. That was the case with Rickey Henderson when he came to the Yankees in 1985. He had worn No. 35 in Oakland, but Phil Niekro had that number when Rickey came to New York. Henderson took No. 24 and then continued to wear that number most of the rest of his career with eight more teams. The only teams he couldn’t wear No. 24 for were the Mariners, who had just traded Ken Griffey Jr. but wouldn’t give out the number, and the Dodgers, who had retired it for Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston.
Reggie Jackson did something similar. He had worn No. 9 with the A’s, but that was Graig Nettles’ number with the Yankees when Reggie reached the Bronx in 1977. Reggie switched to No. 44, which he later wore with the Angels and when he returned to Oakland. Both numbers were retired by the Yankees – 44 for Reggie and 9 for Roger Maris. The latter number was retired by the time Joe Torre, who had worn it throughout his career, came to the Yankees as manager in 1996. He wore No. 6 for 12 years.
Randy Johnson wore No. 51 in Montreal, Seattle, Houston and Arizona, but when he came to the Yankees in 2005 had to change because that number belonged to Bernie Williams. The Big Unit took No. 41, which was his age at the time.
Tino Martinez wore No. 23 with the Mariners, and the number was available when he came to the Yankees in 1996 because Don Mattingly, who had worn it, retired. In deference to Mattingly, a player he greatly admired, Tino declined and instead took No. 24, which is now worn by Robinson Cano. Robbie had worn No. 22 but gave it to Roger Clemens when the Rocket rejoined the Yankees in 2007. Cano then took 24 because it is the reverse of 42, now retired in perpetuity in honor of Jackie Robinson, for whom Cano was named.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it was a strange Old Timers’ Day Saturday at Yankee Stadium, and I had to agree with him except for different reasons.
“Obviously, two great Yankees are missing, so it will feel different,” Girardi said.
When I think of Old Timers’ Day, George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard do not come to mind. I do not recall the Boss being a central figure on that day, apart from the 1978 stunner when Billy Martin was announced as the future Yankees manager for 1980 not long after he had been fired.
Other than that, it seemed to be one day he stepped back and let the players of a bygone era have another day in the sun. Sheppard used to do the same as the Old Timers’ introductions were done on the field, for many years by Mel Allen and Frank Messer and more recently John Sterling and Michael Kay, who handled the duty again Saturday with Bob Wolff and Keith Olbermann providing comment on the exhibition game.
The ceremony Saturday, however, incorporated both Yankees icons who died last week. The Steinbrenner family was not present because they were attending a private service for the patriarch back home in Tampa, Fla. The day had a touch of elegance with the introduction of Mary Sheppard, Bob’s widow, among the celebrities.
Also absent from the proceedings was Yogi Berra, who took a tumble down the front steps of his home in Montclair, N.J., and could not participate. He broke no bones but suffered a nasty gash on his nose and some other bruises. “He appreciates all the well wishes and hopes to be up and about very soon,” was the statement from the Berra family.
Reggie Jackson, another Hall of Famer, almost didn’t come, either, but thankfully, he changed his mind.
“I’d rather not be here today,” Reggie said. “I’d rather pass. People in the leadership of the club thought I should be here.”
Yankees president Randy Levine urged Reggie to attend, and Mr. October put the day in perspective. Jackson knew both men well. His relationship with Sheppard was always cordial.
“Bob Sheppard was John Wooden-like just as John Wooden was Bob Sheppard-like in that you not only felt better when they were around but they had a similar concern for their fellow man, their family and their God,” Jackson said. “Bob worked with me on my Hall of Fame acceptance speech. He also told me on the day I received my [Monument Park] plaque that I could not keep my speech under two minutes. We made a 25-cent bet. I did the speech in 1 minute, 48 seconds, and Bob paid me the quarter. He was that voice in the sky. If they did make a movie about God and needed someone to do his voice, it would have to be Bob Sheppard.
Reggie’s relationship with Steinbrenner was to say the least complicated. They feuded a great deal during Jackson’s five seasons with the Yankees but developed a bond over the past 15 years that was severed so suddenly last week.
Recalling those “Bronx Zoo” years when George and Billy and Reggie provided more soap operas than a year’s worth of daytime television, Graig Nettles recalled, “I said, ‘Every boy wants to run away to the circus, and every boy wants to play major league baseball. With the Yankees, you can do both.’ George didn’t like that at the time. Each one wanted to be the boss and get all the attention. The writers would go past us to talk to George and Billy, but Reggie would trip some of them so they’d talk to him. That kept the rest of us out of the headlines. George put together the kind of team that could handle the chaos. Some later teams couldn’t handle it.”
“It was pretty tough when I heard about it,” Reggie said of Steinbrenner’s death. “I had just talked to him on his birthday [July 4]. It was a wonderful conversation. He was always positive. I knew his health wasn’t the same and the strength wasn’t there, but there was good conversation. So when I heard the news I just got caught off guard. I just got quiet for a couple of days.”
I tried to track Reggie down the day of the All-Star Game. I knew he was around somewhere. Frankly, he usually draws attention to himself at these events, but he was nowhere to be found.
“At the All-Star Game, I was supposed to be in the red carpet parade and on the field for some interviews,” he said. “I sat and watched the game for a few innings with [Angels owner] Arte Moreno and then with the commissioner. I didn’t want to say anything then because I could not have held it together very well.”
Jackson had trouble keeping his composure Saturday as well. He swelled up several times in talking about the Boss.
“He meant so much to so many people,” Reggie said. “His drive and desire to win brought the penultimate to the organization, the city of New York and the game of baseball. All his efforts were focused on winning regardless of the cost. Players see the difference in being a Yankee. Coming to New York, I had the career and success I did because of all the great players around me.
“How else could a .260 hitter [.263 actually] with more than 2,500 strikeouts [2,597] do some of the things I did. It was because of the way this ballclub was put together by Mr. Steinbrenner. We may have sprayed the ball around the fairway a lot, but we were putting it in the cup. If he said it once he said it a hundred times that letting me go was the biggest mistake he made. There are players who are tied with owners, and I am proud to be tied to him.”