Results tagged ‘ Red Ruffing ’
For the second straight night, the previous game’s hero was on the bench. Mark Teixeira switched places with Tyler Austin Thursday night. Tex was getting rest after his thrilling grand slam with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night to climax a huge comeback for the Yankees, who avoided elimination from the American League wild card chase with a 5-3 victory over the Red Sox, who nevertheless clinched the AL East title.
Teixeira’s walk-off salami off Boston righthander Joe Kelly was the retiring first baseman’s first career regular-season walk-off home run. He hit one in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the AL Division Series in 2009 against the Twins. It was Tex’s 409th career home run. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Teixeira’s 408 homers were the most in major league history by a player who had never hit a regular-season walk-off home run.
It was his fifth career walk-off hit and first since May 24, 2011 against the Blue Jays. It was the ninth walk-off grand slam in Yankees history, the first since Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth April 7, 2007 against the Orioles’ Chris Ray. Teixeira also became the third Yankees hitter to slug a walk-off salami against the Red Sox. He joined Charlie Keller Aug. 12, 1942 off Mike Ryba and Red Ruffing, the Hall of Fame pitcher, April 14, 1933 off Bob Weiland.
The only other walk-off grand slam this season was by the Athletics’ Khris Davis May 17 against the Rangers. The grand slam was the 12th of Teixeira’s career and his second this year. He also connected with the bases loaded at Yankee Stadium Sept. 9 off the Rays’ Blake Snell. The only active -layer players with more career grand slams are the Phillies’ Ryan Howard (15) and the Angels’ Albert Pujols (13). Teixeira’s 206th home run with the Yankees moved him past Dave Winfield into 13th place on the all-time franchise list.
Teixeira’s salami got James Pazos his first major-league victory. Pazos was the 22nd different pitcher to earn a winning decision for the Yankees this year, which matched the club record set in 2007. Tyler Clippard earned victories for the Yankees in both seasons (1-3 in 2016, 3-1 in 2007). The Yankees can break the record if either Jonathan Holder and LHP Richard Bleier gets a victory over the final four games. The Yanks’ 22 winning pitchers are tied with the Dodgers for the third most in the majors behind the Braves (28) and the Angels (23).
Mariano Rivera returned to the Stadium Thursday night to be part of a tasteful ceremony celebrating David Ortiz, who like Teixeira will call it a career at the end of the Red Sox’ season. Yankees fans showed class by holding back the boos and giving the Red Sox designated hitter a standing ovation before his first at-bat. They cheered even louder when CC Sabathia struck Ortiz out.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will salute the ballplayers who served during World War II and honor the contributions of a modern baseball pioneer’s legacy with two special recognitions during the annual Awards Presentation at Hall of Fame Weekend Saturday, July 25, in Cooperstown, N.Y.
The Hall will recognize all the players who served in World War II, with United States Navy Secretary Ray Mabus speaking on behalf of all military branches as America marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. More than 500 major leaguers joined the military during World War II, including Hall of Famers such as Bob Feller, who enlisted in the Navy just days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941; and Hank Greenberg, who re-enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 after being drafted and serving in the Army in 1941 before being honorably discharged Dec. 5, 1941.
Thirty-six Hall of Famers – more than 11 percent of all Hall of Fame members – served during World War II, including eight players with the Yankees: Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Johnny Mize, Phil Rizzuto, Red Ruffing and Enos Slaughter. Other Hall of Famers with Yankees connections who served during WWII were executives Larry MacPhail and Lee MacPhail and manager Bob Lemon.
The rest of the Hall of Fame roster of World War II veterans were Feller, Greenberg, Luke Appling, Al Barlick, Willard Brown, Nestor Chylak, Mickey Cochrane, Leon Day, Larry Doby, Bobby Doerr, Charlie Gehringer, Billy Herman, Monte Irvin, Ralph Kiner, Ted Lyons, Stan Musial, Pee Wee Reese, Robin Roberts, Jackie Robinson, Red Schoendienst, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, Bill Veeck, Ted Williams and Early Wynn.
The Museum will also pay tribute to the legacy and contributions of former Reds, Cardinals and Senators outfielder Curt Flood, whose test of the reserve clause via the United States Supreme Court in 1970 laid the groundwork for the advent of free agency several years later. Major League Players Association executive director Tony Clark will speak on behalf of Flood’s challenge of the system and contributions to the Supreme Court case that led to free agency.
A three-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner in center field, Flood petitioned the Court to allow him to choose his employer instead of being subject to a trade. Flood sat out the 1970 season. That year the Court ruled against Flood in a 5-to-3 decision. His efforts inspired pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally to pick up the fight five years later when they challenged the reserve clause through the players’ right to binding arbitration in 1975. Flood passed away in 1997.
These two special recognitions will join the Museum’s annual presentation of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing. Dick Enberg, the television voice of the Padres, will receive the Frick Award. Tom Gage, who covered the Tigers for the Detroit News for 36 seasons, has been selected the Spink Award winner by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Now in its fifth year, the Awards Presentation takes place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 25, at historic Doubleday Field, the day before the 2015 Induction Ceremony.
Admission for the Awards Presentation is free. The one-hour ceremony precedes the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends, featuring Hall of Fame members in a Main Street parade through Cooperstown.
The Class of 2015 at the Hall of Fame features Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez and John Smoltz, who were all elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA in January. More than 50 Hall of Famers are scheduled to be in Cooperstown to honor the Class of 2015 at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 26, at the Clark Sports Center, which is one mile south of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
For more information on Hall of Fame Weekend, please visit http://www.baseballhall.org/visit/hall-of-fame-weekend.
Things were looking so bad for a while there Friday night for the Yankees that it appeared they might not win a game started by Mark Buehrle. The lefthander, who has not beaten the Yankees in 10 years, looked as if he might end that streak over the first six innings.
Then came the seventh and then went Buehrle. He was working on a four-hit shutout entering the inning but faced four batters without getting an out and left the game in his usual circumstance against the Yankees — trailing.
The five spot the Yankees put on the board in the seventh meant that Buehrle would fail to get a winning decision in his 16th straight start against them, the second such losing streak only to a 19-start stretch by Slim Harriss.
Brian McCann, who came within inches of winning Thursday’s game at Detroit that became a tough loss for the Yankees, got the seventh inning started for the Yanks with a double off the right field wall. Buehrle then gave up his first walk, to Carlos Beltran.
Brett Gardner might have been expected to bunt the runners over, but manager Joe Girardi had him swinging away, and it paid off. Gardner ripped a double to left that scored McCann, and Beltran followed him home on an errant relay by second baseman Steve Tolleson that gave the Yankees the lead.
Matters just got worse for Buehrle, who gave up an infield single to Ichiro Suzuki and after leaving the game watched his catcher, Dioner Navarro, try to pick Gardner off third base and throw the ball into left field.
Jacoby Ellsbury hit a rocket over the right field wall for his 14th home run and a 5-1 Yankees lead. It came off lefthander Aaron Loup, the first he had ever yielded to a left-handed batter in the major leagues. Ellsbury continued his torrid trip in which he is batting .440 with a 1.000 slugging percentage, one triple, four home runs and nine RBI in 25 at-bats.
The Blue Jays made it 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, but the Yankees went on to win, 6-3, with Chase Headley adding a bomb of a home run to right-center in the ninth. It was an impressive victory for the Yanks coming off Thursday’s low ebb. They moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the Blue Jays and dropped Toronto back to .500 at 67-67.
Buehrle’s career record against the Yankees fell to 1-13. Only one other pitcher in major-league history was worse against them, Red Ruffing, who was 1-16 during his years with the Red Sox. Ironically, he was traded to the Yankees and became one of the franchise’s great aces and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967. It was also Buehrle’s eighth straight loss this season. He had a 10-1 record as of June 1 and is now 11-9.
Chris Capuano finally got his first victory with the Yankees. He gave up a home run to Juan Bautista in the fourth but stayed close with Buehrle into the seventh. Errors by Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner were responsible for one of the two runs Capuano gave up in the seventh.
Lefthander Josh Outman, the reliever the Yankees obtained from the Indians Thursday, made his first appearance and allowed a pinch-hit single to Munenori Kawasaki, but David Robertson got a four-out save to get the Yankees an uplifting victory to start the Labor Day weekend.
This time he means it.
Andy Pettitte knows what retirement is all about. He experienced it in 2011 but decided to come back and pitch again in 2012. Friday he announced his retirement again for good.
“I was 100-percent convinced coming into the season that this would be it,” Pettitte said. “I came back last year and broke my leg, which put a wrinkle in that. I just felt now was the time. There was nothing that would happen during the season that would change my mind.”
Petttite had lunch with Mariano Rivera while the team was in Toronto earlier this week. Mo told Andy he needed to make an announcement to the fans. Pettitte said he was reluctant to take away from Rivera’s special day Sunday when the Yankees plan a ceremony in the closer’s honor. The Yankees’ starting pitcher that day will be Pettitte.
Rivera insisted this was the best time. And it seems to work out perfectly all around for Pettitte because his final start of the regular season will be next weekend in Houston not far from his Deer Park, Texas, home against the Astros for whom he pitched for three seasons, including that franchise’s only World Series appearance in 2005.
“I’m announcing my retirement prior to the conclusion of our season because I want all of our fans to know now—while I’m still wearing this uniform—how grateful I am for their support throughout my career,” Pettitte said. “I want to have the opportunity to tip my cap to them during these remaining days and thank them for making my time here with the Yankees so special.
“I’ve reached the point where I know that I’ve left everything I have out there on that field. The time is right. I’ve exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and that’s exactly how I want to leave this game. One of the things I struggled with in making this announcement now was doing anything to take away from Mariano’s day Sunday. It is his day. He means so much to me, and has meant so much to my career that I would just hate to somehow take the attention away from him.”
Pettitte, 41, has a 255-152 (.627) career record with a 3.86 ERA in 3,300 innings over 529 games (519 starts) inn 18 seasons with the Yankees (1995-2003, ’07-10, ’12-13) and Astros (2004-06). At 103 games over .500 in his career, Pettitte is the only active pitcher—and one of 26 pitchers in baseball history—to post a record of 100-or-more games over .500. Of the 25 other pitchers to accomplish the feat, 18 have been enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I don’t think about the Hall of Fame unless I’m asked about it,” Pettitte said. “I feel blessed that people will bring my name into that conversation. Have I been a pitcher who dominated? Every game has been a grind for me. I’d continue to pitch if [the Hall of Fame] was a desire of mine. I wouldn’t have retired in the first place.”
Originally selected by the Yankees in the 22nd round of the 1990 First-Year Player Draft, Pettitte has played 15 seasons with the club, going 218-126 with a 3.95 ERA and 2,009 strikeouts in 445 games (436 starts) and 2,780 innings. He is the franchise leader in strikeouts and is on pace to finish his career tied with Whitey Ford (438) for the most starts in Yankees history.
Pettitte trails only Ford (236 victories, 3,171 innings) and Red Ruffing (231 victories, 3,168 innings) in winning decisions and innings pitched with the Yankees and ranks fifth in franchise history in appearances. He appeared in eight career World Series (seven with the Yankees) and won championships in 1996, ‘98, ’99, 2000 and ’09.
Andy is the all-time winningest pitcher in postseason history with a 19-11 record and 3.81 ERA (276.2IP, 117ER) in 44 career starts totaling 276 2/3 innings. He also ranks first all time in postseason starts and innings pitched and is second with 183 strikeouts. His personal career postseason victory total is more than that of eight other franchises (Royals 18, Diamondbacks 17, Mariners 15, Brewers 14, Padres 12, Rays 11, Rockies 9, Expos/Nationals 7).
With the Yankees in postseason play, Pettitte is 18-10 with a 3.76 ERA (251.1IP, 105ER) in 40 career starts and 251 1/3 innings. While winning his final World Series with the Yankees in 2009, he became the first pitcher in baseball history to start and win the clinching game of all three series in a single postseason (ALDS vs. the Twins, ALCS vs. the Angels and World Series against the Phillies).
This season, Pettitte has gone 10-10 with 3.93 ERA (169.1IP, 74ER) in 28 starts and 169 1/3 innings. He struck out the Red Sox’ David Ross Sept. 6 to become the first Yankees pitcher in franchise history to reach 2,000 strikeouts with the club. With his 10 wins in 2013, he has earned at least 10 victories in 14 different seasons for the Yankees, surpassing Ford (13) to set a club record.
Pettitte will finish his career as one of 12 players to spend at least 15 seasons with the Yankees. He joins teammates Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera with 19 apiece, Todd Helton (17 with the Rockies) and Paul Konerko (15 with the White Sox) as the only active players to have spent at least 15 seasons with their current team. Pettitte has earned the victory in games in which Rivera also earned a save 72 times, the highest victory-save combination for any pair of pitchers since saves became an official statistic in 1969.
The Louisiana-born, Texas-raised lefthander was a three-time All-Star (1996, 2001, ’10) and the 2001 ALCS Most Valuable Player. He is the only pitcher in major league history to pitch at least 17 seasons (1995-2010, ’12) without having a losing record. Pettitte also posted a winning record in each of the first 13 seasons of his career (1995-2007), the third-longest such streak to begin a career, trailing only Hall of Famers Grover Cleveland Alexander (17) and Cy Young (15).
“The only regret I have in my career is my time with HGH,” Pettitte said in reference to his admission of using the performance-enhancing drug to overcome an injury. “I never tried to cheat the game. I hate it that if any young person would think that I cheated the game. I would like to be remembered as a great teammate who took the ball every day and gave it all I got.”
I ran into an old pal on the way into Yankee Stadium Wednesday for what was the beginning of a long day with a split-admission doubleheader courtesy of Tuesday night’s rainout. None other than Tommy Lasorda had come to the Stadium to make the Yankees-Dodgers match-up official.
In his 21 seasons as manager of the Dodgers, Lasorda was a baseball writer’s best friend. He enjoyed the byplay with the press and filled out notebooks with material while he preached bleeding “Dodger Blue.” Still hearty at 85, Lasorda was looking forward to a day at the Stadium. In the lobby of Gate 2, he watched a video of Hall of Fame pitcher Red Ruffing pitching against the New York Giants in the 1937 World Series.
Lasorda, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1997, and I have worked together on a couple of Veterans Committees for the Hall. We were on the committees that elected managers Billy Southworth and Dick Williams and third baseman Ron Santo. Tommy and I campaigned hard for former Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges, but he fell three votes short.
Tommy is also a major proponent for the election of former Yankees manager Ralph Houk, the only major-league skipper to win pennants in his first three seasons on the job (1961-63). “He was a great manager,” Lasorda said. “Unfortunately, he was here when the franchise was going through a transition, but Ralph was an important link in the years between Casey Stengel and George Steinbrenner.”
Lasorda was involved in my favorite singular memory of spring training. The year was 1990. The Yankees still trained in Fort Lauderdale and the Dodgers in Vero Beach in those days. The Yankees were in Vero, and Tommy invited me and three other New York writers – Moss Klein, Bill Madden and Joe Donnelly – to have dinner with him after the game.
I got stuck in a lengthy interview with former Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry, who was in his first spring with the Dodgers, and told the other writers that I would catch up with them later. We would need a designated driver anyway for the 2 1/2/-hour trek home, so I volunteered.
By the time I joined them, Tommy had explained that then Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley was throwing a luau for a contingent from Mexico and that he wanted the manager to stay on the premises.
“You can invite the writers to the luau,” O’Malley told Lasorda.
We were delighted. Vin Scully joined us, and we sat on a veranda with plenty to eat and drink (coffee for me) and listened to two of the great story tellers in the major leagues for several hours. Spring training doesn’t get better than that.
Don Mattingly’s return to the Stadium was celebrated by the bleacher creatures who added the Dodgers manager to the roll call in the first inning. Donnie acknowledged them with a tip of his cap. He did so again in the second inning when a video of his Yankees career was shown on the center field screen.
There was a sizeable number of Dodgers fans in the afternoon crowd, many cheering Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, who started for Los Angeles in an all-Asian pairing with Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees’ Japanese righthander. Yankees fans got their first chance to drown out Dodgers fans in the bottom of the second when Lyle Overbay doubled over center fielder Andre Ethier’s head for a two-run double.
Yankees fans also got their first view of Cuban right fielder Yasiel Puig, who is off to a strong start in the majors. In the first two innings, Puig evoked the memory of two former Brooklyn Dodgers favorites from the 1940s and ‘50s, Jackie Robinson and Carl Furillo.
Puig singled with one out in the first and bolted for second as center fielder Brett Gardner fielded the ball. Puig was out trying to stretch the hit into a double, but it took a perfect throw from Gardner and a perfect tag by shortstop Jayson Nix to get him.
Thomas Neal led off the New York second with a single to right. Again not taking anything for granted, Puig noticed Neal jogging to first and rifled a throw there that skipped by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez but no advance for Neal. That was a favored ploy of Furillo, particularly when pitchers got a rare hit and occasionally would get a 9-3 putout.
This is the sort of stuff long promised by inter-league play but rarely on display.
Whitey Ford never did it. Red Ruffing never did it. Ron Guidry never did it.
A.J. Burnett did do it.
Strike out four batters in an inning, that’s what.
That is what Phil Hughes did in the fourth inning Thursday night at Yankee Stadium against the Blue Jays. Obviously, one of the batters reached base, which is how it can happen. The second strikeout victim, Adeiny Hechevarria, reached first base on a passed ball by Russell Martin. Hughes struck out J.P. Arencibia before Hechevarria and Anthony Gose and Brett Lawrie after that for a four-K inning.
Hard to believe that it was only the second time in franchise history the feat was accomplished. Perhaps even harder to believe that the first time was just last year, by Burnett June 24 in the sixth inning of a 4-2 loss to the Rockies at the Stadium. The victims were Chris Iannetta, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Nelson (who reached base on a wild pitch) and Todd Helton.
The good, old Elias Sports Bureau, the keeper of all of baseball’s numbers, came up with another gem after the Yankees’ 4-0 victory over the Reds Friday night at Yankee Stadium in which Andy Pettitte was the winning pitcher and Raul Ibanez hit a home run.
Pettitte and Ibanez became the first 39-year-old teammates to post a victory as a starting pitcher and hit a homer in the same game, respectively, for the first time since Detroit’s Kenny Rogers and Gary Sheffield, a couple of former Yankees, did it Aug. 18, 2008.
It was also the first time two Yankees did so in the same game. Elias was quick to point out, however, that three Yankees pitchers won games in which they also homered after their 39th birthday – Red Ruffing in 1945, Spud Chandler in 1947 and Sal Maglie in 1958.
Jack Benny, the late comedian who never admitted to beind older than 39, would have loved all this.
Friday marked the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, so it was appropriate that the Yankees were the visitors as they were a century go in the last season in which they were known as the Highlanders. The Yankees’ public relations staff with the assistance of the Elias Sports Bureau put together the following list of memorable games at Fenway in the American League’s most heated rivalry. Which is your favorite? It is pretty tough to top that 1978 playoff game. On the downside, those losses in Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 AL Championship Series were the Yanks’ worst moments.
January 3, 1920: The Yankees purchase the contract of Babe Ruth from the Red Sox for $125,000 and a $350,000 loan against the mortgage on Fenway Park.
September 28, 1923: The Yankees get 30 hits in a 24-4 victory. The hit total remains the most in a nine-inning game in Yankees franchise history. The run total marks the second highest by the club in a road game and the Yanks’ most at Fenway.
September 8, 1925: Babe Ruth hits his 300th career home run, off Buster Ross in a 7-4 Yankees victory.
June 23, 1927: In an 11-4 Yankees victory, Lou Gehrig becomes the first player in franchise history to hit three home runs in one game against the Red Sox. The feat was matched by Mark Teixeira May 8, 2010 at Fenway.
September 5, 1927: The Yankees lose, 12-11, in 18 innings in the second longest road game in franchise history (in terms of innings played). It was the first game of a doubleheader. The Yanks score two runs in the top of the ninth to send it to extra innings. Both teams score three runs in the 17th. Red Sox starter Red Ruffing pitches 15 innings.
September 24, 1929: On Babe Ruth Day, the Yankees win, 5-3. Ruth has 2-for-3 with a double.
July 3, 1932: The Yankees defeat the Red Sox, 13-2, in the first Sunday game at Fenway. Due to the park’s proximity to a church, the Red Sox had played Sunday games at nearby Braves Field until the law was changed.
June 6, 1934: Myril Hoag becomes the first Yankees player to go 6-for-6 in a 15-3 victory in the opener of a doubleheader. The feat was matched by Johnny Damon June 7, 2008 against the Royals.
September 22, 1935: The Yankees sweep a doubleheader from the Red Sox, 6-4 and 9-0, in front of 47,267 fans – the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game at Fenway Park.
April 20, 1939: The Yankees beat the Red Sox, 2-0, on Opening Day. Red Ruffing throws a complete game shutout, allowing seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts. Bill Dickey hits a solo home run. An ailing Lou Gehrig goes 0-for-4 in his final Fenway appearance. Ted Williams has 1-for-4 in his major league debut in the only game to feature both players.
July 9, 1946: In the All-Star Game, Yankees right fielder Charlie Keller hits a two-run home run in the first inning of the American League’s 12-0 victory.
April 18, 1950: On Opening Day, the Yankees overcome a 9-0 deficit to win, 15-10. They score 11 runs (without any home runs) over the final two innings.
April 14, 1955: Elston Howard becomes the first black player in Yankees history, making his major-league debut in an 8-4 loss. Ellie has an RBI single in his only plate appearance.
September 21, 1956: In a 13-7 Yankees loss, Mickey Mantle hits what is considered the longest known homer to straightaway center field in Fenway Park history. The second-inning blow off Frank Sullivan carries approximately 480 feet before striking one foot below the top brick barrier located behind Section 36.
July 21, 1961: The Yankees score five runs in the top of the ninth for an 11-8 victory. Johnny Blanchard’s pinch-hit grand slam off Mike Fornieles seals the game.
September 11, 1966: Johnny Miller makes his major league debut, homering in his first plate appearance in the second inning off Lee Stange. Bobby Richardson’s two-run homer in the 10th gives the Yankees the 4-2 victory.
April 6, 1973: The Yankees’ Ron Blomberg becomes the major league’s first designated hitter, batting in the top of the first inning. He walks with the bases loaded off Luis Tiant and finishes the day 1-for-3 with 1RBI in a 15-5 loss.
October 2, 1978: The Yankees defeat the Red Sox, 5-4, in only the second one-game playoff in AL history. Trailing by 14 games in mid-July, Bucky Dent caps the Yankees’ comeback with a three-run, seventh-inning home run.
June 19, 2000: The Yankees defeat the Red Sox, 22-1. Five different Yankees homer in the game, including Jorge Posada, who also scored four runs. The Yankees score 16 runs over the final two innings, including seven in the ninth off Tim Wakefield.
September 2, 2001: Mike Mussina comes within one out of a perfect game before Carl Everett singles with two outs in the ninth.
October 16-18, 2004: The Yankees win Game 3 of the AL Championship Series, 19-8, to go up three games to none. Boston wins the next two nights at Fenway Park with consecutive extra-inning, walk-off victories and goes on to become the first baseball team to overcome a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-7 series.
August 18, 2006: The Yankees and Red Sox play their signature marathon game with the Yanks winning, 14-11, in 4 hours, 45 minutes in the second game of a doubleheader. It marks the longest nine-inning game in baseball history in terms of time.
April 22, 2007: In a 7-6 loss, Yankees starter Chase Wright yields four consecutive home runs in the third inning (to Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek). The lefthander becomes only the second pitcher in major league history to allow four consecutive home runs in an inning, joining Paul Foytak, who did so July 1, 1963 for the Angels against the Indians.
September 28, 2009: On the final day of the season – and what turns out to be his final career outing – the Yankees’ Mike Mussina becomes a 20-game winner for the only time in his 18-season career, in a 6-2 victory in the first game of a doubleheader.
I have come full cycle with Old Timers Day, one of the great traditions at Yankee Stadium where it all began with a day to honor Babe Ruth in 1947. The first one I attended was in the late 1950s and getting to see Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez, Tommy Henrich, Red Ruffing and other stars of my parents’ generation’s youth. My father was actually a Giants fan when they still played in New York, but my mother’s family was all Yankees fans.
When I started covering the Yankees in the 1980’s, Old Timers’ Day was a favorite because I would not only get to see the Yankees stars of my youth such as Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Hank Bauer and Moose Skowron but also to talk to them. Bauer was one of the best interviews ever; blunt, outspoken, colorful.
One of my favorite stories came from Bauer’s old platoon partner, Gene Woodling. (Bauer, by the way, was not crazy about Casey Stengel, who platooned him early on in the outfield before he became the regular right fielder.)
Back to Woodling; he talked of a time when players were so worried about keeping their jobs that he played for about a week with a broken bone in his heel. It swelled so much, Woodling said, that he cut out the back of his cleat and spread black shoe polish on the heel so no one would notice and stayed in the lineup. Finally, Dickey, the Hall of Fame catcher who was then Casey’s first base coach, saw Woodling’s shoe with the big hole in it in his locker and told him that he needed treatment.
Think of something like that happened today when disabled lists are almost as big as rosters!
At Sunday’s Old Timers’ Day, I was reminded of the passage of time when I encountered so many players whom I covered when they broke into the majors – Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and David Cone in my years on the Mets and Bernie Williams, Pat Kelly and Kevin Maas during my time with the Yankees. I had them as rookies, and now they’re Old Timers, so what does that make me.
Don’t answer that.
This was Bernie’s first Old Timer’s Day, and he was one of the big hits of the afternoon. He got a rousing ovation from the crowd during the introduction ceremonies. Fans were on their feet again when he doubled to the warning track in left-center in the two-inning Old Timers’ game. Then the Stadium really exploded when Bernie’s old teammate, Tino Martinez, popped a two-run home run to right off Cone, another old teammate.
I teased Bernie around the batting cage before the game after he had told writers that he still did not consider himself retired. “But I think that’s closer now,” he said.
I told him that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America was in the process of putting together the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot that will go out to voters in December, and that he would be on it; in other words, like it or not, Bernie, you’re retired.
He was asked during the press conference what his favorite memory from his playing career was. Williams could not limit it to just one and gave a very thoughtful answer.
“I would say that three things stick out – winning our first World Series championship in 1996, winning the batting title in 1999 and being on the field before the last game at the old Stadium,” he said. “I got announced after Yogi, which was pretty cool.”
Bernie officially joined the pantheon of Yankees legends Sunday, and he sounded proud of it.
“It’s a really big thing for me,” he said. “If you take the word ‘old,’ I think I’d be a little uncomfortable with it. But when I was playing, I looked forward to these days. To me, it was a reminder of the fact that we’re part of a family that has been going on for 100 years, and thinking I was part of something that was bigger than myself. And now I’m on the other side, being in the same situation, so it’s good. It’s great. I’m just really proud of this organization. When I chose to stay and have my whole career as a Yankee, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Also back for the first Old Timers’ Day appearance were former managers Lou Piniella and Joe Torre. “Sweet Lou,” who served the Yankees in nearly every category there is (players, coach, manager, general manager, broadcaster) put on the pinstripes for the first time since 1988. He had been busy elsewhere after that, winning a World Series with the Reds in 1990 and helping to build the Mariners into a viable franchise.
The pinstripes looked good on Torre, too, even while wearing a sling after recently undergoing right rotator cuff surgery. The man who won six American League pennants, four World Series and had the Yankee in post-season play all 12 of his seasons as manager had been invited before but was unable to attend because he was managing the Dodgers. Joe is now vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner’s office, but it is not really a desk job as he gets to spend a lot of time in ballparks.
With Jack McKeon (Marlins) and Davey Johnson (Nationals) back in big-league dugouts, I was curious if that gave either Lou or Joe the itch to return.
“There comes a time when you have to walk away, and I knew last year was that time for me,” Piniella said. “It was the same when I was a player. I was never one who wanted another at bat.”
“I was shopping with my wife recently,” Torre said, “and she told me how strange it was that here we were in the middle of a baseball season together and I wasn’t stressed out. I don’t miss all that stress.”
Both proudly wore rings linking them to their Yankees careers – Lou the World Series ring of 1977 and Joe of 1996. Those were the first championships for each.
“You never forget the first time,” Joe said on a day at Yankee Stadium that never gets old.
When Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera made their 2011 debuts Thursday, they also continued to make history. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that they are the first trio of teammates in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League to play together in each of 17 consecutive seasons, extending the record they established in 2010.
Jeter, Posada and Rivera have been teammates since 1995. Mo is the senior member of the trio. He came up in May of ’95 and pitched in 19 games, including 10 as a starter. He gained nation-wide attention for his outstanding work in that year’s first Division Series against the Mariners (0 runs, 3 hits, 8 strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings).
Jeter played in 15 games in May and June as a replacement for injured shortstop Tony Fernandez and hit .250 in 48 at-bats. Posada played behind the plate in only one inning of one game as a September call-up and did not bat.
The previous pro sports record for consecutive seasons by three teammates was 15 by the Brewers’ trio of Jim Gantner, Paul Molitor and Robin Yount from 1978 through 1992. Tied for the second longest trio of Yankees who played 13 years together: Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing from 1930 through 1942 and Whitey Ford, Elston Howard and Mickey Mantle from 1955 through 1967.