George Herman Ruth Jr. was born in 1895 at 216 Emory Street in Pigtown, a working-class section of Baltimore, Maryland, named for its meat-packing plants. Its population included recent immigrants from Ireland, Germany and Italy, and African Americans. Ruth’s parents, George Herman Ruth, Sr. (1871–1918) and Katherine Schamberger, were both of German American ancestry. According to the 1880 census, his parents were born in Maryland. The paternal grandparents of Ruth, Sr. were from Prussia and Hanover. Ruth, Sr. had a series of jobs, including lightning rod salesman and streetcar operator, before becoming a counterman in a family-owned combination grocery and saloon on Frederick Street. George Ruth Jr. was born in the house of his maternal grandfather, Pius Schamberger, a German immigrant and trade unionist. Only one of young George’s seven siblings, his younger sister Mamie, survived infancy. Many aspects of Ruth’s childhood are undetermined, including the date of his parents’ marriage. When young George was a toddler, the family moved to 339 South Goodyear Street, not far from the rail yards; by the time the boy was 6, his father had a saloon with an upstairs apartment at 426 West Camden Street. Details are equally scanty about why young George was sent at the age of 7 to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a reformatory and orphanage. As an adult, Babe Ruth suggested that not only had he been running the streets and rarely attending school, he was drinking beer when his father was not looking. Some accounts say that, after a violent incident at his father’s saloon, the city authorities decided this environment was unsuitable for a small child. At St. Mary’s, which George Jr. entered on June 13, 1902, he was recorded as “incorrigible”; he spent much of the next twelve years there.
Ruth was sometimes allowed to rejoin his family, or was placed at St. James’s Home, a supervised residence with work in the community, but he was always returned to St. Mary’s. He rarely was visited by his family; his mother died when he was 12 and by some accounts, he was permitted to leave St. Mary’s only to attend the funeral. How Ruth came to play baseball there is uncertain: according to one account, his placement at St. Mary’s was due in part to repeatedly breaking Baltimore’s windows with long hits while playing street ball; by another, he was told to join a team on his first day at St. Mary’s by the school’s athletic director, Brother Herman, becoming a catcher even though left-handers rarely play that position. During his time there he also played third base and shortstop, again unusual for a left-hander, and was forced to wear mitts and gloves made for right-handers. He was encouraged in his pursuits by the school’s Prefect of Discipline, Brother Matthias Boutlier, a native of Nova Scotia. A large man, Brother Matthias was greatly respected by the boys both for his strength and for his fairness. For the rest of his life, Ruth would praise Brother Matthias, and his running and hitting styles closely resembled his teacher’s. Ruth stated, “I think I was born as a hitter the first day I ever saw him hit a baseball.”
The school’s influence remained with Ruth in other ways: a lifelong Catholic, he would sometimes attend Mass after carousing all night, and he became a well-known member of the Knights of Columbus. He would visit orphanages, schools, and hospitals throughout his life, often avoiding publicity. He was generous to St. Mary’s as he became famous and rich, donating money and his presence at fundraisers, and spending $5,000 to buy Brother Matthias a Cadillac in 1926—subsequently replacing it when it was destroyed in an accident. Nevertheless, his biographer Leigh Montville suggests that many of the off-the-field excesses of Ruth’s career were driven by the deprivations of his time at St. Mary’s.
In early 1914, Ruth was signed to a professional baseball contract by Jack Dunn, owner and manager of the minor-league Baltimore Orioles, an International League team. The circumstances of Ruth’s signing are not known with certainty, with historical fact obscured by stories that cannot all be true. By some accounts, Dunn was urged to attend a game between an all-star team from St. Mary’s and one from another Xaverian facility, Mount St. Mary’s College. Some versions have Ruth running away before the eagerly awaited game, to return in time to be punished, and then pitching St. Mary’s to victory as Dunn watched. Others have Washington Senators pitcher Joe Engel, a Mount St. Mary’s graduate, pitching in an alumni game after watching a preliminary contest between the college’s freshmen and a team from St. Mary’s, including Ruth. Engel watched Ruth play, then told Dunn about him at a chance meeting in Washington. Ruth, in his autobiography, stated only that he worked out for Dunn for a half-hour, and was signed. According to biographer Kal Wagenheim, there were legal difficulties to be straightened out as Ruth was supposed to remain at the school until he turned 21.
There are various accounts of how Ruth came to be called Babe, but most center on his being referred to as “Dunnie’s babe” or a variant. “Babe” was at that time a common nickname in baseball, with perhaps the most famous to that point being Pittsburgh
Pirates pitcher and 1909 World Series hero Babe Adams, who appeared younger than he was. Babe Ruth’s first appearance as a professional ballplayer was in an intersquad game on March 7, 1914. Ruth played shortstop, and pitched the last two innings of a 15–9 victory. In his second at bat, Ruth hit a long home run to right, which was reported locally to be longer than a legendary shot hit in Fayetteville by Jim Thorpe. His first appearance against a team in organized baseball was an exhibition against the major-league Philadelphia Phillies: Ruth pitched the middle three innings, giving up two runs in the fourth, but then settling down and pitching a scoreless fifth and sixth. The following afternoon, Ruth was put in during the sixth inning against the Phillies and did not allow a run the rest of the way. The Orioles scored seven runs in the bottom of the eighth to overcome a 6–0 deficit, making Ruth the winning pitcher.
Although by late June the Orioles were in first place, having won over two-thirds of their games, the paid attendance dropped as low as 150. Dunn explored a possible move by the Orioles to Richmond, Virginia, as well as the sale of a minority interest in the club. These possibilities fell through, leaving Dunn with little choice other than to sell his best players to major league teams to raise money. He offered Ruth to the reigning World Series champions, Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, but Mack had his own financial problems. The Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants expressed interest in Ruth, but Dunn sold his contract, along with those of pitchers Ernie Shore and Ben Egan, to the Boston Red Sox of the American League (AL) on July 4. The sale price was announced as $25,000 but other reports lower the amount to half that, or possibly $8,500 plus the cancellation of a $3,000 loan. Ruth remained with the Orioles for several days while the Red Sox completed a road trip, and reported to the team in Boston on July 11. Ruth arrived in Boston on July 11, 1914, along with Egan and Shore. Ruth later told of meeting the woman he would first marry, Helen Woodford, that morning—she was then a 16-year-old waitress at Landers Coffee Shop, and Ruth related that she served him when he had breakfast there. Other stories, though, suggest the meeting happened on another day, and perhaps under other circumstances. Regardless of when he began to woo his first wife, he won his first game for the Red Sox that afternoon, 4–3, over the Cleveland Naps. He pitched to catcher Bill Carrigan, who was also the Red Sox manager. Shore was given a start by Carrigan the next day; he won that and his second start and thereafter was pitched regularly. Ruth lost his second start, and was thereafter little used.As a batter, in his major-league debut, Ruth went 0-for-2 against left-hander Willie Mitchell, striking out in his first at bat, before being removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. Ruth was not much noticed by the fans, as Bostonians watched the Red Sox’s crosstown rivals, the Braves, begin a legendary comeback that would take them from last place on the Fourth of July to the 1914 World Series Championship.
Manager Carrigan allowed Ruth to pitch two exhibition games in mid-August. Although Ruth won both against minor-league competition, he was not restored to the pitching rotation. It is uncertain why Carrigan did not give Ruth additional opportunities to pitch. There are legends—filmed for the screen in The Babe Ruth Story (1948)—that the young pitcher had a habit of signaling his intent to throw a curveball by sticking out his tongue slightly, and that he was easy to hit until this changed. Creamer pointed out that it is common for inexperienced pitchers to display such habits, and the need to break Ruth of his would not constitute a reason to not use him at all.
Ruth joined the Grays on August 18, 1914. What was left of the Baltimore Orioles after Dunn’s deals had managed to hold on to first place until August 15, after which they continued to fade, leaving the pennant race between Providence and Rochester. Ruth was deeply impressed by Providence manager “Wild Bill” Donovan, previously a star pitcher with a 25–4 win–loss record for Detroit in 1907; in later years, he credited Donovan with teaching him much about pitching. Ruth was called upon often to pitch, in one stretch starting (and winning) four games in eight days. On September 5 at Maple Leaf Park in Toronto, Ruth pitched a one-hit 9–0 victory, and hit his first professional home run, his only one as a minor leaguer, off Ellis Johnson.Recalled to Boston after Providence finished the season in first place, he pitched and won a game for the Red Sox against the New York Yankees on October 2, getting his first major league hit, a double. Ruth finished the season with a record of 2–1 as a major leaguer and 23–8 in the International League (for Baltimore and Providence.)
During the 1919 season, Ruth pitched in only 17 of his 130 games, compiling an 8–5 record as Barrow used him as a pitcher mostly in the early part of the season, when the Red Sox manager still had hopes of a second consecutive pennant. By late June, the Red Sox were clearly out of the race, and Barrow had no objection to Ruth concentrating on his hitting, if only because it drew people to the ballpark. Ruth had hit a home run against the Yankees on Opening Day, and another during a month-long batting slump that soon followed. Relieved of his pitching duties, Ruth began an unprecedented spell of slugging home runs, which gave him widespread public and press attention. Even his failures were seen as majestic—one sportswriter noted, “When Ruth misses a swipe at the ball, the stands quiver”. Two home runs by Ruth on July 5, and one in each of two consecutive games a week later, raised his season total to 11, tying his career best from 1918. The first record to fall was the AL single-season mark of 16, set by Ralph “Socks” Seybold in 1902. Ruth matched that on July 29, then pulled ahead toward the major league record of 24, set by Buck Freeman in 1899. Ruth reached this on September 8, by which time, writers had discovered that Ned Williamson of the 1884 Chicago White Stockings had hit 27—though in a ballpark where the distance to right field was only 215 feet (66 m). On September 20, “Babe Ruth Day” at Fenway Park, Ruth won the game with a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, tying Williamson. He broke the record four days later against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds, and hit one more against the Senators to finish with 29. The home run at Washington made Ruth the first major league player to hit a home run at all eight ballparks in his league. In spite of Ruth’s hitting heroics, the Red Sox finished sixth, 20 1⁄2 games behind the league champion White Sox.
As an out-of-towner from New York City, Frazee had been regarded with suspicion by Boston’s sportswriters and baseball fans when he bought the team. He won them over with success on the field and a willingness to build the Red Sox by purchasing or trading for players. He offered the Senators $60,000 for Walter Johnson, but Washington owner Clark Griffith was unwilling. Even so, Frazee was successful in bringing other players to Boston, especially as replacements for players in the military. This willingness to spend for players helped the Red Sox secure the 1918 title. The 1919 season saw record-breaking attendance, and Ruth’s home runs for Boston made him a national sensation. In March 1919 Ruth was reported as having accepted a three-year contract for a total of $27,000, after protracted negotiations. Nevertheless, on December 26, 1919, Frazee sold Ruth’s contract to the New York Yankees.
ot all of the circumstances concerning the sale are known, but brewer and former congressman Jacob Ruppert, the New York team’s principal owner, reportedly asked Yankee manager Miller Huggins what the team needed to be successful. “Get Ruth from Boston”, Huggins supposedly replied, noting that Frazee was perennially in need of money to finance his theatrical productions. In any event, there was precedent for the Ruth transaction: when Boston pitcher Carl Mays left the Red Sox in a 1919 dispute, Frazee had settled the matter by selling Mays to the Yankees, though over the opposition of AL President Johnson. According to one of Ruth’s biographers, Jim Reisler, “why Frazee needed cash in 1919—and large infusions of it quickly—is still, more than 80 years later, a bit of a mystery”. The often-told story is that Frazee needed money to finance the musical No, No, Nanette, which was a Broadway hit and brought Frazee financial security. That play did not open until 1925, however, by which time Frazee had sold the Red Sox. Still, the story may be true in essence: No, No, Nanettewas based on a Frazee-produced play, My Lady Friends, which opened in 1919. There were other financial pressures on Frazee, despite his team’s success. Ruth, fully aware of baseball’s popularity and his role in it, wanted to renegotiate his contract, signed before the 1919 season for $10,000 per year through 1921. He demanded that his salary be doubled, or he would sit out the season and cash in on his popularity through other ventures. Ruth’s salary demands were causing other players to ask for more money. Additionally, Frazee still owed Lannin as much as $125,000 from the purchase of the club.
Frazee sold the rights to Babe Ruth for $100,000, the largest sum ever paid for a baseball player. The deal also involved a $350,000 loan from Ruppert to Frazee, secured by a mortgage on Fenway Park. Once it was agreed, Frazee informed Barrow, who, stunned, told the owner that he was getting the worse end of the bargain. Cynics have suggested that Barrow may have played a larger role in the Ruth sale, as less than a year after, he became the Yankee general manager, and in the following years made a number of purchases of Red Sox players from Frazee. The $100,000 price included $25,000 in cash, and notes for the same amount due November 1 in 1920, 1921, and 1922; Ruppert and Huston assisted Frazee in selling the notes to banks for immediate cash.
The transaction was contingent on Ruth signing a new contract, which was quickly accomplished—Ruth agreed to fulfill the remaining two years on his contract, but was given a $20,000 bonus, payable over two seasons. The deal was announced on January 6, 1920. Reaction in Boston was mixed: some fans were embittered at the loss of Ruth; others conceded that the slugger had become difficult to deal with. The New York Times suggested presciently, “The short right field wall at the Polo Grounds should prove an easy target for Ruth next season and, playing seventy-seven games at home, it would not be surprising if Ruth surpassed his home run record of twenty-nine circuit clouts next Summer.” According to Reisler, “The Yankees had pulled off the sports steal of the century.” According to Marty Appel in his history of the Yankees, the transaction, “changed the fortunes of two high-profile franchises for decades”. The Red Sox, winners of five of the first sixteen World Series, those played between 1903 and 1919, would not win another pennant until 1946, or another World Series until 2004, a drought attributed in baseball superstition to Frazee’s sale of Ruth and sometimes dubbed the “Curse of the Bambino”. The Yankees, on the other hand, had not won the AL championship prior to their acquisition of Ruth. They won seven AL pennants and four World Series with Ruth, and lead baseball with 40 pennants and 27 World Series titles in their history.
As a Yankee, Ruth’s transition from a pitcher to a power-hitting outfielder became complete. In his fifteen-season Yankee career, consisting of over 2,000 games, Ruth broke many batting records, while making only five widely scattered appearances on the mound, winning all of them. At the end of April 1920, the Yankees were 4–7, with the Red Sox leading the league with a 10–2 mark. Ruth had done little, having injured himself swinging the bat. Both situations began to change on May 1, when Ruth hit a home run with the ball going completely out of the Polo Grounds, a feat believed only to have been previously accomplished by Shoeless Joe Jackson. The Yankees won, 6–0, taking three out of four from the Red Sox. Ruth hit his second home run on May 2, and by the end of the month had set a major league record for home runs in a month with 11, and promptly broke it with 13 in June. Fans responded with record attendance: on May 16, Ruth and the Yankees drew 38,600 to the Polo Grounds, a record for the ballpark, and 15,000 fans were turned away. Large crowds jammed stadiums to see Ruth play when the Yankees were on the road.
Ruth was aided in his exploits, in 1920 and afterwards, by the fact that the A.J. Reach Company, maker of baseballs used in the major leagues, was using a more efficient machine to wind the yarn found within the baseball. When these went into play in 1920, the start of the live-ball era, the number of home runs increased by 184 over the previous year across the major leagues. Baseball statistician Bill James points out that while Ruth was likely aided by the change in the baseball, there were other factors at work, including the gradual abolition of the spitball (accelerated after the death of Ray Chapman, struck by a pitched ball thrown by Mays in August 1920) and the more frequent use of new baseballs (also a response to Chapman’s death). Nevertheless, James theorizes that Ruth’s 1920 explosion might have happened in 1919, had a full season of 154 games been played rather than 140, had Ruth refrained from pitching 133 innings that season, and if he were playing at any other home field but Fenway Park, where he hit only 9 of 29 home runs.
Ruth hit home runs early and often in the 1921 season, during which he broke Roger Connor’s mark for home runs in a career, 138. Each of the almost 600 home runs Ruth hit in his career after that extended his own record. After a slow start, the Yankees
were soon locked in a tight pennant race with Cleveland, winners of the 1920 World Series. On September 15, Ruth hit his 55th home run, shattering his year-old single season record. In late September, the Yankees visited Cleveland and won three out of four games, giving them the upper hand in the race, and clinched their first pennant a few days later. Ruth finished the regular season with 59 home runs, batting .378 and with a slugging percentage of .846. The Yankees had high expectations when they met the New York Giants in the 1921 World Series, and the Yankees won the first two games with Ruth in the lineup. However, Ruth badly scraped his elbow during Game 2, sliding into third base (he had walked and stolen both second and third bases). After the game, he was told by the team physician not to play the rest of the series. Despite this advice, he did play in the next three games, and pinch-hit in Game Eight of the best-of-nine series, but the Yankees lost, five games to three. Ruth hit .316, drove in five runs and hit his first World Series home run.
On March 6, 1922, Ruth signed a new contract, for three years at $52,000 a year. The largest sum ever paid a ballplayer to that point, it represented 40% of the team’s player payroll. Despite his suspension, Ruth was named the Yankees’ new on-field captain prior to the 1922 season. During the suspension, he worked out with the team in the morning, and played exhibition games with the Yankees on their off days. He and Meusel returned on May 20, to a sellout crowd at the Polo Grounds, but Ruth batted 0-for-4, and was booed. On May 25, he was thrown out of the game for throwing dust in umpire George Hildebrand’s face, then climbed into the stands to confront a heckler. Ban Johnson ordered him fined, suspended, and stripped of his captaincy. In his shortened season, Ruth appeared in 110 games, batted .315, with 35 home runs, and drove in 99 runs, but compared to his previous two dominating years, the 1922 season was a disappointment. Despite Ruth’s off-year, Yankees managed to win the pennant to face the New York Giants for the second straight year in the World Series.
The Yankees were never challenged, leading the league for most of the 1923 season and winning the AL pennant by 17 games. Ruth finished the season with a career-high .393 batting average and major-league leading 41 home runs (tied with Cy Williams). Another career high for Ruth in 1923 was his 45 doubles, and he reached base 379 times, then a major league record. For the third straight year, the Yankees faced the Giants in the World Series, which Ruth dominated. He batted .368, walked eight times, scored eight runs, hit three home runs and slugged 1.000 during the series, as the Yankees won their first World Series championship, four games to two.
From 1923 to 1935, Ruth had his ups and downs. From being rumored dead in 1925, to having the mysterious “bellyache heard round the world.” Ruth returned to his normal production during 1926, batting .372 with 47 home runs and 146 RBIs. In 1927, the yankees won a then-AL-record 110 games, and took the AL pennant by 19 games. In 1929, Ruth received his uniform number of ‘3’ after the team had experimented with numbered uniforms to tell players apart on the field. In 1930, Ruth hit .359 with 49 home runs (his best in his years after 1928) and 153 RBIs, and pitched his first game in nine years, a complete game victory. In 1934, Ruth played in his last full season. By this time, years of high living were starting to catch up with him. His conditioning had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer field or run. He accepted a pay cut from Ruppert to $35,000, but was still the highest-paid player in the major leagues. He could still handle a bat, recording a .288 batting average with 22 home runs, statistics Reisler described as “merely mortal”. Ruth was selected to the AL All-Star team for the second consecutive year. During the game, New York Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell struck out Ruth and four other future Hall-of-Famers consecutively.
Ruth played in the third game of the Pittsburgh series on May 25, 1935, and added one more tale to his playing legend. Ruth went 4-for-4, including three home runs, though the Braves lost the game 11–7. The last two were off Ruth’s old Cubs nemesis, Guy Bush. The final home run, both of the game and of Ruth’s career, sailed over the upper deck in right field and out of the ballpark, the first time anyone had hit a fair ball completely out of Forbes Field. Ruth was urged to make this his last game, but he had given his word to Fuchs and played in Cincinnati and Philadelphia. The first game of the doubleheader in Philadelphia—the Braves lost both—was his final major league appearance. On June 2, after an argument with Fuchs, Ruth retired. He finished 1935 with a .181 average—easily his worst as a full-time position player—and the final six of his 714 home runs. The Braves, 10–27 when Ruth left, finished 38–115, at .248 the worst winning percentage in modern National League history.
Although Fuchs had given Ruth his unconditional release, no major league team expressed an interest in hiring him in any capacity. Ruth still hoped to be hired as a manager if he could not play anymore, but only one managerial position, Cleveland, became available between Ruth’s retirement and the end of the 1937 season. Asked if he had considered Ruth for the job, Indians owner Alva Bradley replied negatively. The writer Creamer believed Ruth was unfairly treated in never being given an opportunity to manage a major league club. The author believed there was not necessarily a relationship between personal conduct and managerial success, noting that McGraw, Billy Martin, and Bobby Valentine were winners despite character flaws. Team owners and general managers assessed Ruth’s flamboyant personal habits as a reason to exclude him from a managerial job; Barrow said of him, “How can he manage other men when he can’t even manage himself?” Ruth played much golf and in a few exhibition baseball games, demonstrating a continuing ability to draw large crowds. This appeal contributed to the Dodgers hiring him as first base coach in 1938. But Brooklyn general manager Larry MacPhail made it clear when Ruth was hired that he would not be considered for the manager’s job if, as expected, Burleigh Grimes retired at the end of the season. Although much was said about what Ruth could teach the younger players, in practice, his duties were to appear on the field in uniform and encourage base runners—he was not called upon to relay signs. He got along well with everyone except team captain Leo Durocher, who was hired as Grimes’ replacement at season’s end. Ruth returned to retirement, never again to work in baseball.
On July 4, 1939, Ruth spoke on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium as members of the 1927 Yankees and a sellout crowd turned out to honor the first baseman, forced into premature retirement by ALS disease, which would kill him in two years. The next week, Ruth went to Cooperstown, New York, for the formal opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Three years earlier he was one of the first five players elected to it. As radio broadcasts of baseball became popular, Ruth sought a job in that field, arguing that his celebrity and knowledge of baseball would assure large audiences, but he received no offers. During World War II, he made many personal appearances to advance the war effort, including his last appearance as a player at Yankee Stadium, in a 1943 exhibition for the Army–Navy Relief Fund. He hit a long fly ball off Walter Johnson; the blast left the field, curving foul, but Ruth circled the bases anyway. In 1946, he made a final effort to gain a job in baseball, contacting new Yankees boss MacPhail, but was sent a rejection letter.
As early as the war years, doctors had cautioned Ruth to take better care of his health, and he grudgingly followed their advice, limiting his drinking and not going on a proposed trip to support the troops in the South Pacific. In 1946, Ruth began experiencing severe pain over his left eye, and had difficulty swallowing. In November 1946, he entered French Hospital in New York for tests, which revealed that Ruth had an inoperable malignant tumor at the base of his skull and in his neck. It was a lesion known as nasopharyngeal carcinoma, or “lymphoepithelioma.” His name and fame gave him access to experimental treatments, and he was one of the first cancer patients to receive both drugs and radiation treatment simultaneously. He was discharged from the hospital in February, having lost 80 pounds (36 kg), and went to Florida to recuperate. He returned to New York and Yankee Stadium after the season started. The new commissioner, Happy Chandler (Judge Landis had died in 1944), proclaimed April 27, 1947, Babe Ruth Day around the major leagues, with the most significant observance to be at Yankee Stadium. A number of teammates and others spoke in honor of Ruth, who briefly addressed the crowd of almost 60,000. Around this time, developments in chemotherapy offered some hope for Ruth. The doctors had not told Ruth that he had cancer because of his family’s fear that he might do himself harm. They treated him with teropterin, a folic acid derivative; he may have been the first human subject. Ruth showed dramatic improvement during the summer of 1947, so much so that his case was presented by his doctors at a scientific meeting, without using his name. He was able to travel around the country, doing promotional work for the Ford Motor Company on American Legion Baseball. He appeared again at another day in his honor at Yankee Stadium in September, but was not well enough to pitch in an old-timers game as he had hoped.
The improvement was only a temporary remission, and by late 1947, Ruth was unable to help with the writing of his autobiography, The Babe Ruth Story, which was almost entirely ghostwritten. In and out of the hospital in New York, he left for Florida in February 1948, doing what activities he could. After six weeks he returned to New York to appear at a book-signing party. He also traveled to California to witness the filming of the book.
On June 5, 1948, a “gaunt and hollowed out” Ruth visited Yale University to donate a manuscript of The Babe Ruth Story to its library. On June 13, Ruth visited Yankee Stadium for the final time in his life, appearing at the 25th anniversary celebrations of “The House that Ruth Built”. By this time he had lost much weight and had difficulty walking. Introduced along with his surviving teammates from 1923, Ruth used a bat as a cane. Nat Fein’s photo of Ruth taken from behind, standing near home plate and facing “Ruthville” (right field) became one of baseball’s most famous and widely circulated photographs, and won the Pulitzer Prize.
Thousands of New Yorkers, including many children, stood vigil outside the hospital in Ruth’s final days. On August 16, 1948, at 8:01 p.m., Ruth died in his sleep at the age of 53. Instead of a wake at a funeral home, his casket was taken to Yankee Stadium, where it remained for two days; 77,000 people filed past to pay him tribute. His funeral Mass took place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral; a crowd estimated at 75,000 waited outside. Ruth was buried on a hillside in Section 25 at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York. An epitaph by Cardinal Spellman appears on his headstone. His second wife, Claire Merritt Ruth, would be interred with him 28 years later in 1976.
On April 19, 1949, the Yankees unveiled a granite monument in Ruth’s honor in center field of Yankee Stadium. The monument was located in the field of play next to a flagpole and similar tributes to Huggins and Gehrig until the stadium was remodeled from 1974 to 1975, which resulted in the outfield fences moving inward and enclosing the monuments from the playing field. This area was known thereafter as Monument Park. Yankee Stadium, “the House that Ruth Built”, was replaced after the 2008 season with a new Yankee Stadium across the street from the old one; Monument Park was subsequently moved to the new venue behind the center field fence. Ruth’s uniform number 3 has been retired by the Yankees, and he is one of five Yankees players or managers to have a granite monument within the stadium.
Andy Pettitte was born on June 15, 1972, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is of Italian and Cajun descent, and the younger of two children born to Tommy and JoAnn Pettitte. He attended Deer Park High School in Deer Park, Texas, where he pitched for the school’s baseball team. His fastball ranged from between 85 to 87 miles per hour. He also played center and nose guard for the school’s football team. The Yankees selected Pettitte in the 22nd
round of the 1990 Major League Baseball draft. Recruited by San Jacinto College North in Houston, Texas, he opted to play college baseball when coach Wayne Graham compared him to Roger Clemens. As Pettitte enrolled in a junior college rather than a four-year school, the Yankees retained the right to sign him as a draft-and-follow prospect. On May 25, 1991, he signed with the Yankees, receiving an $80,000 signing bonus ($140,669 in current dollar terms), double the Yankees’ initial offer.
In 1991, Pettitte pitched for the Gulf Coast Yankees of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Oneonta Yankees of the Class A-Short Season New York–Penn League, making six starts for each team. With Oneonta, Pettitte teamed up with catcher Jorge Posada, his longtime batterymate, for the first time. Pettitte threw a knuckleball at the time. Posada struggled to catch the knuckleball, prompting Pettitte to abandon the pitch. In 1992, Pettitte pitched for the Greensboro Hornets of the Class A South Atlantic League. He pitched to a 10–4 win–loss record and a 2.20 earned run average (ERA), with 130 strikeouts and 55 walks, in 27 games started. That season, Pettitte and Posada first played with Derek Jeter. Andy Pettitte pitched for the Prince William Cannons of the Class A-Advanced Carolina League in the 1993 season, finishing the year with an 11–9 record, a 3.04 ERA, 129 strikeouts, and 47 walks in 26 starts. He also made one start for the Albany-Colonie Yankees of the Class AA Eastern League during the season. Pettitte began the 1994 season with Albany-Colonie, where he had a 7–2 record and 2.71 ERA in 11 starts, before receiving a promotion to the Columbus Clippers of the Class AAA International League. With Columbus, Pettitte had a 7–2 record and a 2.98 ERA in 16 starts. The Yankees named him their minor league pitcher of the year.
Baseball America ranked Andy the 49th best prospect in baseball prior to the 1995 season. In spring training, Pettitte competed for a spot in the starting rotation with Sterling Hitchcock. Hitchcock won the competition, and Pettitte opened the season in the bullpen, making his major league debut with the Yankees on April 29, 1995. The Yankees demoted him back to the minors on May 16 to allow him to continue starting. Eleven days later, he was recalled due to an injury to Jimmy Key. With Scott Kamieniecki and Mélido Pérez also suffering injuries, Andy became a member of the starting rotation. He recorded his first major league win on June 7. He continued to perform well through July, leading Yankees’ starters in ERA. Pettitte won six of his last seven starts, finishing the season with a 12–9 record and a 4.17 ERA, and placed third in American League (AL) Rookie of the Year Award balloting, behind Marty Cordova and Garret Anderson. He started Game Two of the 1995 American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Seattle Mariners, allowing four runs in seven innings. The Mariners won the series three games to two.
Believing Andy Pettitte was the superior pitcher, the Yankees traded Hitchcock prior to the 1996 season. Starting the season in the rotation, Pettitte had a 13–4 record at the end of the first half of the season, and made the AL All-Star team. He did not appear in the 1996 MLB All-Star Game, due to a sore arm. He led the AL with 21 wins and finished third in winning percentage (.724), and eighth in ERA (3.87). He finished second to Pat Hentgen for the AL Cy Young Award, with the smallest difference in voting since 1972. Hentgen won the award in part because he pitched more complete games than Pettitte. The Yankees defeated the Texas Rangers in the 1996 ALDS and the Baltimore Orioles in the 1996 American League Championship Series (ALCS). Pettitte won two games against the Orioles, and had his opportunity for a third start in the series cancelled by rain. Pettitte started Game One of the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves. He allowed seven runs in 2 1⁄3 innings in the first game, but outdueled John Smoltz in Game Five, which the Yankees won 1–0. The Yankees defeated the Braves in Game Six to win the series, four games to two. The next year, Pettitte tied for first in games started (35), and also led the league in pickoffs (14), and double plays induced (36). He was third in the league in innings pitched (IP) ( 240 1⁄3; a career high), fourth in ERA (2.88), wins (18), and winning percentage (.720), sixth in complete games (4), eighth in strikeouts (166), and tenth in walks per nine innings (2.43). Pettitte finished fifth in the AL Cy Young Award voting. In 1998, he was seventh in the league in complete games (5; a career high), and eighth in wins (16). In the 1998 ALCS, Pettitte allowed four home runs in a game to the Cleveland Indians. The Yankees won the series, and defeated the San Diego Padres in the 1998 World Series. Pettitte started in Game Four, defeating Kevin Brown in the deciding game of the series. The Yankees won the 1999 World Series. They continued their success in the 2000 season. Pettitte finished third in the AL in wins (19), sixth in winning percentage (.679), and seventh in complete games (3). He finished off the season with his fourth World Series Title. In 2001, he made the All-Star team for the second time and was named the ALCS Most Valuable Player, after winning Games 1 and 5 against the Seattle Mariners in the 2001 ALCS. He was third in the AL in walks per nine innings (1.84), and eighth in strikeouts (164) and strikeouts per nine innings (7.36). The following year, he was ninth in the AL in winning percentage (.722) and complete games (3). Pettitte continued his success through 2003. Pettitte was second in the league in wins (21), fifth in winning percentage (.724), sixth in strikeouts (180; a career high) and strikeouts per nine innings (7.78; a career-best), eighth in games started (33), and ninth in walks per nine innings (2.16). He won the Warren Spahn Award, given annually to the best left-handed pitcher in baseball.
Pettitte became a free agent after the 2003 season. Interested in playing closer to his Deer Park home, and feeling that the Yankees were not interested in re-signing him, Pettitte signed a three-year, $31.5 million contract with the Houston Astros of the National League (NL). He switched his uniform number to #21, in honor of Roger Clemens, who previously wore that number in Boston and Toronto. His 2004 season, in which he held batters to a .226 batting average, was shortened by elbow surgery. After the 2006 season, Pettitte signed a one-year, $16 million contract with the New York Yankees with a player option for 2008 worth $16 million. The Astros had offered Pettitte $12 million for a one-year contract. Pettitte won his 200th career game on September 19, 2007. In 2007 he led the American League in starts (34), was seventh in batters faced (916), and was 9th in innings pitched ( 215 1⁄3), finishing the regular season with a 15–9 win-loss record. He also had the 5th-lowest HR/9 innings pitched ratio in the AL (0.67). After the season, Pettitte declined his 2008 option, becoming a free agent. The Yankees offered Pettitte salary arbitration, and Pettite accepted the Yankees offer. He signed a one-year, $16 million contract with the Yankees on December 12.
On September 21, 2008, Pettitte was the last starting pitcher for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. He recorded his 2,000th career strikeout in the second inning, striking out Baltimore Orioles catcher Ramón Hernández. Pettitte led the Yankees in innings pitched in 2008 with 204. Over 14 seasons, Pettitte has averaged 158 strikeouts a season, the same number as he accumulated in 2008. Pettitte agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million contract with incentives on January 26, 2009. Based on incentives such as innings pitched and days on the active roster, Pettitte eventually earned $10.5 million for 2009. Pettitte began the 2009 season as the Yankees’ fourth starter, behind CC Sabathia, A. J. Burnett, and Chien-Ming Wang, followed by Joba Chamberlain. Pettitte was the winning pitcher as the Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Game 6 of the ALCS on October 25, 2009, to clinch the series and advance to the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. This brought his career total of series-clinching wins to five, breaking the record he previously shared with Roger Clemens, Catfish Hunter and Dave Stewart. Pettitte drove in his first postseason run during Game 3 of the World Series when he got a single to center field that scored Nick Swisher. He was the winning pitcher for that game. Pettitte pitched Game 6 of the 2009 World Series on three days of rest. Experts were critical of the decision to pitch the 37-year-old on short rest, but Pettitte again was the winning pitcher in game 6 of the 2009 World Series, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 7–3. He extended his record career total series-clinching wins to six, and extended his record for post-season career wins to 18. He became the first pitcher in Major League Baseball history to start and win three series-clinching playoff games in the same year. Derek Lowe also won three series in 2004, but with one of his wins coming in relief. Additionally, on September 27 against the Red Sox, Pettitte had been the winning pitcher in the division-clinching game. Pettitte filed for free agency after the 2009 season. He re-signed with the Yankees, receiving a one-year contract worth $11.75 million. In the first half of the 2010 season, Pettitte went 11–2 with a 2.70 ERA, earning an appearance in the 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. He also won the Yankees.com mid-season Cy Young Award. Pettitte finished the season with an 11–3 record and a 3.28 ERA, his lowest since 2005.
Pettitte announced his retirement on February 4, 2011. He spent the year away from professional baseball.
Pettitte agreed to join the Yankees in spring training in 2012 as a guest instructor. Stating that his return gave him “the itch”, Pettitte signed a minor league contract with the Yankees worth $2.5 million on March 16, 2012. Pettitte began the season in the minor leagues pitching in games for different affiliates to build his endurance and pitch count. Pettitte returned on May 13, allowing 4 runs over 6 1/3 innings in a loss to the Seattle Mariners 6–2. During a game against the Cleveland Indians on June 27, 2012, Pettitte was hit hard on his ankle by a ground ball. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that Pettitte had a fractured left fibula and missed over two months. Pettitte returned on September 19, 2012 against the Blue Jays pitching five scoreless innings. He finished the season with a 5–4 record and a 2.87 ERA in 12 games started. He also made two postseason appearances. Pettitte re-signed with the Yankees for the 2013 season, agreeing to a one-year, $12 million contract. On May 17, 2013, Pettitte was put on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained left trapezius muscle. He was activated on June 3, 2013. On June 8, 2013, Pettitte recorded his 250th career win against the Seattle Mariners, becoming the 47th pitcher in Major League history to achieve as many wins. On July 1, 2013, in a game against the Minnesota Twins, Pettitte struck out Justin Morneau, thereby passing Whitey Ford as the Yankees all-time strikeout leader with 1,958. He struck out his 2,000th batter as a Yankee on September 6.
Pettitte announced on September 20 that he would retire at the end of the season. Teammate Mariano Rivera convinced him to announce it before the end of the season. Pettitte made his last regular season start at Yankee Stadium, on September 22. Andy’s last major league start, on September 28 against the Astros in Houston, tied Ford for the most games started in Yankees history (438). Pettitte pitched a complete game, receiving the victory. The Astros honored his career during the game.
On February 16, 2015, the Yankees announced that they would be retiring Pettitte’s number 46 on August 23, 2015.
Mariano Rivera was born on November 29, 1969 to parents Mariano Rivera Palacios and Delia Jiron. Born as the second child, Mariano has one older sister (Delia) and two younger brothers (Alvaro and Giraldo.) The family lived in Puerto Caimito, a poor fishing village in Panama. His father was the captain of a fishing boat, while his mother stayed home. As a young child, Rivera and his friends would play baseball and soccer on the beach during low-tide. Rivera was known for hanging with the wrong people around this time. Rivera attended Escuela Victoriano Chacón for elementary school and La Escuela Secundaria Pedro Pablo Sanchez for his secondary education, but he dropped out in ninth grade. At age 16, he began working six-day weeks on a commercial boat captained by his father, catching sardines. The job was hard for Rivera, who was more interested in becoming a mechanic. He decided to give up fishing as a career after abandoning a capsizing commercial boat as a 19-year-old, and after his uncle died from injuries suffered on a fishing boat. Rivera continued to play sports during his teenage years but eventually quit soccer after a series of ankle and knee injuries around age 17. He now shifted his attention to baseball but considered it just a hobby rather than a possible profession.
In 1988, Rivera joined Panamá Oeste, a local amateur baseball team, as their shortstop. Scout Herb Raybourn watched him play in a baseball tournament but did not project him to be a major league shortstop. A year later, Panamá Oeste’s pitcherperformed so poorly in a playoff game that Rivera was asked to replace him, and despite no experience at the position, he pitched well. Teammates Claudino Hernández and Emilio Gáez consequently contacted Chico Heron, a scout for the New York Yankees. Two weeks after his pitching debut, Rivera was invited to a Yankees tryout camp run by Heron in Panama City. Raybourn, who had returned to Panama to scout as the Yankees’ director of Latin American operations, received a tip about Rivera. Raybourn was surprised to hear he had switched positions but decided to watch him throw. Although Rivera had no formal pitching training, weighed just 155 pounds, and threw only 85–87 miles per hour, Raybourn was impressed by his athleticism and smooth, effortless pitching motion. Viewing Rivera as a raw talent, Raybourn signed the amateur free agent to a contract with the Yankees organization on February 17, 1990; the contract included a signing bonus of US$2,500 ($4,583 today), according to Major League Baseball records.
After signing his contract, Rivera—who spoke no English and had never left home—flew to the United States and reported to the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Yankees, a Rookie level minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees. Feeling lonely and homesick, he wrote home to his parents often, as they did not have access to telephones. At that point in his career, scouts considered Rivera to be a “fringe prospect” at best, but he made progress with a strong 1990 season for the GCL Yankees. Pitching mostly in relief, he allowed only 24 baserunners and one earned run in 52 innings pitched—a 0.17 earned run average. The team permitted Rivera to start the season’s final game in order for him to accumulate enough innings pitched to qualify for the league’s ERA title (which carried a $500 bonus); his subsequent seven-inning no-hitter”put him on the map with the organization”, according to manager Glenn Sherlock. In the offseason, Rivera returned to Panama, where a tip from him to Raybourn led to the Yankees signing a promising local 16-year-old player, Rivera’s cousin Rubén. In 1991, Mariano was promoted to the Class A level Greensboro Hornets of the South Atlantic League, where he started 15 of the 29 games he pitched in. Despite a 4–9 win–loss record, he recorded a 2.75 ERA in 114 2⁄3 innings pitched and struck out 123 batters while walking 36 batters. New York Yankees manager Buck Showalter took notice of Rivera’s strong strikeout-to-walk ratio, calling it “impressive in any league” and saying, “This guy is going to make it.”
In 1994, he was promoted from the Class A-Advanced level Tampa Yankees of the FSL to the Double-A level Albany-Colonie Yankees of the Eastern League, and then to the Triple-A level Columbus Clippers of the International League. Rivera finished the year with a 10–2 record in 22 starts, although he struggled for Columbus, recording a 5.81 ERA in six starts. Beginning the 1995 season with Columbus, he was ranked by sports magazine Baseball America as the ninth-best prospect in the Yankees organization; by contrast, the publication ranked Rivera’s highly touted cousin Rubén as the second-best prospect in baseball. Mariano’s pitching repertoire primarily consisted of fastballs at the time, although he threw a slider and changeup as secondary pitches.
After being called up to the major leagues on May 16, 1995, Rivera made his debut for the New York Yankees on May 23 against the California Angels. Starting in place of injured pitcher Jimmy Key, Rivera allowed five earned runs in 3 1⁄3 innings pitched in a 10–0 loss. He struggled through his first four major league starts, posting a 10.20 ERA, and as a result, he was demoted to Columbus on June 11. As a 25-year-old rookie just three years removed from major arm surgery, his spot on the team was not guaranteed. Management considered tradinghim to the Detroit Tigers for starter David Wells. While recovering from a sore shoulder in the minor leagues, Rivera pitched a no-hit shutout in a rain-shortenedfive-inning start. Reports from the game indicated that his pitches had reached 95–96 mph, about 6 mph faster than his previous average velocity; Rivera attributes his inexplicable improvement to God. Yankees general manager Gene Michael was skeptical of the reports until verifying that Columbus’ radar gun was not faulty and that another team’s scout had taken the same measurements. Afterwards, he ended any trade negotiations involving Rivera. On July 4, in his first start back in the major leagues, Rivera pitched eight scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox, allowing just two hits while striking out 11 batters. In five subsequent starts, he was unable to match his success from that game. After a brief demotion to Columbus in August, Rivera made one last start in the major leagues in September before he was moved to the Yankees’ bullpen. Overall, he finished his first major league season with a 5–3 record and a 5.51 ERA in ten starts and nine relief outings. His performance in the 1995 American League Division Series, in which he pitched 5 1⁄3 scoreless innings of relief, convinced Yankees management to keep him and convert him to a relief pitcher the following season.
In 1996, Rivera served primarily as a setup pitcher, typically pitching in the seventh and eighth innings of games before closer John Wetteland pitched in the ninth. Their effectiveness as a tandem helped the Yankees win 70 of 73 games when leading after six innings that season. Over a stretch of games between April 19 and May 21, Rivera pitched 26 consecutive scoreless innings, including 15 consecutive hitless innings. During the streak, he recorded his first career save in a May 17 game against the Angels. Rivera finished the regular season with a 2.09 ERA in 107 2⁄3 innings pitched and set a Yankees single-season record for strikeouts by a reliever (130). In the postseason, he allowed just one earned run in 14 1⁄3 innings pitched. helping the Yankees advance to and win the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves; it was the franchise’s first World Series championship since 1978. In MLB’s annual awards voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Rivera finished in twelfth place for the American League (AL) Most Valuable Player Award and third for the AL Cy Young Award, which is given to the league’s best pitcher.Commentator and former player Tim McCarver wrote that the Yankees “revolutionized baseball” that year with Rivera, “a middle reliever who should have been on the All-Star team and who was a legitimate MVP candidate.”
On May 19, 2002, Rivera recorded his 225th career save, surpassing Dave Righetti as the Yankees’ franchise leader in saves. Over the next few months of the season, injuries limited his playing time. He was first placed on the disabled list in June due to a groin strain, though his first-half numbers, which included a 1.47 ERA and 21 saves, earned him an All-Star selection. In a game on July 14, Rivera endured one of his worst outings, allowing six earned runs, including a walk-off grand slam. One week later, he was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder strain. Rivera was activated on August 8 after receiving a cortisone shot but returned to the disabled list after a recurrence of shoulder tightness. For the season, Rivera recorded a 2.74 ERA and 28 saves in 32 opportunities in just 46 innings pitched. To placate the Yankees’ concerns about his durability, Rivera followed a strength and conditioning program in the offseason, instead of throwing. Torre said that he would try to reduce Rivera’s workload during the 2003 season to minimize the injury risk to his closer. However, Rivera suffered a groin injury before the season began, causing him to miss the first month. After returning on April 30, he pitched well in the season’s first half, saving 16 games in 17 opportunities. His save on June 12 against the St. Louis Cardinals secured the 300th career win for starter Roger Clemens. Rivera slumped early in the second half; over one stretch, he blew five of eleven save opportunities, but he rebounded to convert his final 15 of the season. He finished the 2003 regular season with a new career best in ERA (1.66), along with 40 saves in 46 opportunities. In the 2003 AL Championship Series against the arch-rival Boston Red Sox, Rivera had one of the most memorable postseason performances of his career; in the decisive Game 7, he entered in the ninth inning with the score tied 5–5 and pitched three scoreless innings, his longest outing since 1996. He became the winning pitcher after Aaron Boone hit an eleventh-inning walk-off home run that clinched the Yankees’ series victory and advanced them to the 2003 World Series. Rivera celebrated by running to the pitcher’s mound and collapsing in joy to thank God, as Boone rounded the bases and was met by his teammates at home plate. Rivera was named the AL Championship Series MVP for recording two saves and a win in the series. The Yankees lost the World Series to the Florida Marlins; Rivera saved five games and allowed only one earned run in 16 innings pitched that postseason.
Following a career high in appearances in 2004, Rivera did not throw during the offseason, unlike previous years. His 2005 season began on a low note. After missing time in spring training with elbow bursitis, he blew his first two save opportunities of the season against the Red Sox, marking four consecutive blown opportunities against Boston dating back to the previous postseason. Fans at Yankee Stadium booed Rivera, and baseball journalists speculated if his days as a dominant pitcher were over. He was subsequently cheered by Red Sox fans during pre-game introductions at Fenway Park the following week, in recognition of his struggles against the Red Sox. He responded to the ovation with a sense of humor by tipping his cap to the crowd. Rivera’s 2008 season was one of his best individual years. Along with a 1.40 ERA and 39 saves in 40 opportunities, he set career bests in multiple statistical categories, including WHIP (0.67), on-base plus slugging (OPS)-against (.422), batting average against (.165), save percentage (97.5%), walks (6), earned runs (11), and blown saves (1). He averaged 9.81 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched, his best mark as a closer. He pitched with such control that his 12.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio made him the second MLB pitcher ever to record a figure that high in a season (minimum 50 innings pitched). He placed fifth in the AL Cy Young Award voting.
After successfully rehabilitating his knee in the offseason, Rivera announced on March 9, 2013, that he would retire after the 2013 season, his 19th in the major leagues. Throughout his final year, Rivera spent time during visits to each ballpark meeting privately with fans and unsung team employees to hear their stories and thank them for supporting baseball. He explained: “It was important for me to meet the people who make baseball what it is, the people who work in the game every day. They have given me far more than I have given them.” Each opposing team returned the favor by honoring Rivera with a gift during his final visit to their city: in Cleveland, the Indians teamed up with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to present Rivera with a gold record of his entrance song “Enter Sandman”; the Minnesota Twins commissioned a rocking chair made of broken bats, many broken personally by Rivera’s cutter, called the “Chair of Broken Dreams”; the rival Boston Red Sox gave him a painting and several artifacts from Fenway Park. Many teams made donations to the Mariano Rivera Foundation, the pitcher’s charitable organization. Corporate sponsors of the Yankees paid tribute as well; Delta Air Lines dedicated a Boeing 757 airplane with Rivera’s signature and uniform number 42 on the exterior, while Hard Rock Cafe retired “Enter Sandman” from its song system at all locations except for its Yankee Stadium restaurant.
Rivera exhibited a reserved demeanor on the field that contrasted with the emotional, demonstrative temperament of many of his peers. Hall of Fame closer Goose Gossage said that Rivera’s composure under stress gave him the appearance of having “ice water in his veins”. Commenting on his ability to remain focused in pressure situations, Rivera said, “When you start thinking, a lot of things will happen… If you don’t control your emotions, your emotions will control your acts, and that’s not good.” His ability to compartmentalize his successes and failures impressed fellow reliever Joba Chamberlain, who said, “He’s won and lost some of the biggest games in the history of baseball, and he’s no worse for the wear when he gives up a home run.” Rivera explained the need to quickly forget bad performances, saying “the game that you’re going to play tomorrow is not going to be the same game that you just played.” Derek Jeter called him the “most mentally tough” teammate with whom he had ever played. During his playing career, Rivera was regarded as a team leader within the Yankees organization, often mentoring younger pitchers and counseling teammates. He had a team-first mindset and deferred most discussions about individual accolades to team goals and his teammates, praising them for making his presence in games possible. When once asked to describe his job, Rivera put it simply, “I get the ball, I throw the ball, and then I take a shower.”
Rivera was a dominant reliever throughout his career, pitching with a consistency and longevity uncharacteristic of a role commonly marked by volatility and high turnover. In his 17-year tenure as the Yankees’ closer, Rivera compiled considerable career numbers. A 13-time All-Star, he is the major leagues’ all-time regular season leader in saves (652) and games finished (952). He pitched in 1,115 regular season games, which is fourth-most in MLB history, the most in AL history, and the most by a right-handed pitcher. Rivera holds or shares several records for the most seasons of reaching various save milestones, including seasons with at least: 20 saves (sixteen); 25 saves (fifteen consecutive, sixteen non-consecutive); 30 saves (nine consecutive, fifteen non-consecutive); 35 saves (twelve); 40 saves (nine); and 50 saves (two). Rivera’s career ERA (2.21) and WHIP (1.00) are the lowest of any MLB pitcher in the live-ball era (minimum 1,000 innings pitched), making him one of the top pitchers since 1920 at preventing hitters from reaching base and scoring He recorded an ERA under 2.00 in 11 seasons, tying him with Walter Johnson for the most such seasons (minimum 60 innings pitched each). Rivera also ranks first in career adjusted ERA+ (205), a statistic that adjusts ERA for league and ballpark to allow comparisons of pitchers on the same baseline.
Rivera and his wife Clara have known each other since elementary school, and they were married on November 9, 1991. They have three sons: Mariano III, Jafet, and Jaziel. The family lived in Panama until 2000, when they relocated to Westchester County, New York; they currently reside in Rye, New York. Mariano III pitched for Iona College in New Rochelle, not far from his home. He was drafted by the Yankees with the 872nd pick in the 2014 MLB draft, but decided to return to Iona for his junior year. In the following year’s draft, Mariano III was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 4th round with the 134th overall pick. Over the course of his professional career, Rivera learned English, beginning in 1991 with the Greensboro Hornets, when he realized none of his teammates spoke his native Spanish. He is now a proponent of Latino players learning English and of American press members learning Spanish, in order to bridge the cultural gap.
In March 2014, Rivera was twice recognized for his philanthropic efforts, receiving the ROBIE Humanitarian Award from the Jackie Robinson Foundation, as well as a Jefferson Award for Public Service. Later that month, the “Legends Series”, comprising two MLB exhibition games between the Yankees and Miami Marlins, was played in Rivera’s native Panama to “honor [his] legacy”; he helped promote the games, which were supplemented by charitable events and a gala benefiting his foundation. On April 9, 2014, MLB announced that a new annual award for relief pitchers, the Reliever of the Year Award, would replace the existing Delivery Man of the Year Award, and that the AL honor would be named after Rivera. The following month, a section of River Avenue bordering Yankee Stadium at 161st Street was renamed “Rivera Avenue” in the pitcher’s honor. This coincided with the release of his autobiography, The Closer: My Story, co-authored with Wayne Coffey. New York University bestowed an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree upon Rivera during its commencement ceremony at Yankee Stadium on May 21, 2014. During the 2015 Little League World Series, he was inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. The Yankees dedicated a plaque to Rivera in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park on August 14, 2016.
Jackson was born in the Wyncote neighborhood of Cheltenham Township, just north of Philadelphia. His father was Martinez Jackson, a half Puerto Rican, who worked as a tailor and who was a former second baseman with the Newark Eagles of Negro league baseball. He was the youngest of four children from his mother, Clara. He also had two half-siblings from his father’s first marriage. His parents divorced when he was four; his mother took four of his siblings with her, while his father took Jackson and one of the siblings from his first marriage, though one sibling later returned to Wyncote. Martinez Jackson was a single father, and theirs was one of the few black families in Wyncote. He was able to develop a social ease with the Jewish community in Wyncote, as all his friends, girlfriends, coaches, and teachers during that timeframe were Jewish. In 1972, Jackson joined his Jewish teammates on the A’s – Ken Holtzman and Mike Epstein – in wearing black armbands for the rest of the postseason after the Munich Massacre at the Olympics in September. At Cheltenham High School, he was a classmate of Yonatan Netanyahu, who led the Israeli raid on Entebbe in 1976. Jackson graduated from Cheltenham High in 1964, where he excelled in football, basketball, baseball, and track and field. A tailback in football, he injured his knee in an early season game in his junior year. He was told by the doctors he was never to play football again, but Jackson returned for the final game of the season. In that game, Jackson fractured five cervical vertebrae, which caused him to spend six weeks in the hospital and another month in a neck cast. Doctors told Jackson that he might never walk again, let alone play football, but Jackson defied the odds again. On the baseball team, he batted .550 and threw several no-hitters. In the middle of his senior year, Jackson’s father was arrested for bootlegging and was sentenced to six months in jail.
In football, he was scouted by Alabama, Georgia, and Oklahoma, all of whom were willing to break the color barrier just for Jackson (Oklahoma had black football players before 1964- including Prentice Gautt, a star running back recruited in 1957, who played in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals). Jackson declined Alabama and Georgia because he was fearful of the South at the time, and declined Oklahoma because they told him to stop dating white girls. For baseball, Jackson was scouted by Hans Lobert of the San Francisco Giants who was desperate to sign him. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins also made offers, and the hometown Philadelphia Phillies gave him a tryout but declined because of his “hitting skills”. His father wanted his son to go to college, where Jackson wanted to play both football and baseball. He decided to attend Arizona State University on a football scholarship. His high-school football coach knew ASU’s head football coach Frank Kush, and they discussed the possibility of him playing both sports. After a recruiting trip, Kush decided that Jackson had the ability and willingness to work to join the squad.
One day after football practice, he approached baseball coach Bobby Winkles asking if he could join the team. Winkles said he would give Jackson a look, and the next day while still in his football gear, he hit a home run on the second pitch he saw. In five at bats he hit three home runs. He was allowed to practice with the team, but could not join the squad because the NCAA had a rule forbidding the use of freshman players. Jackson switched permanently to baseball following his freshman year, as he did not want to become a defensive back. To hone his skills, Winkles assigned him to a Baltimore Orioles-affiliated amateur team. He broke numerous team records for the squad, and the Orioles offered him a $50,000 signing bonus if he joined the team. Jackson declined the offer stating that he did not want to forfeit his college scholarship. In the beginning of his sophomore year in 1966, Jackson replaced Rick Monday (the first player ever selected in the Major League Baseball draft and a future teammate with the A’s) at center field. He broke the team record for most home runs in a single season, led the team in numerous other categories and was first team All-American. Many scouts were looking at him play, including Tom Greenwade of the New York Yankees (who discovered Mickey Mantle), and Danny Murtaugh of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his final game at Arizona State, he showed his potential by being only a triple away from hitting for the cycle, making a sliding catch, and having an assist at home plate. Jackson was the first college player to hit a home run out of Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
I the 1966 Major League Baseball draft on June 7, Jackson was selected by the Kansas City Athletics. He was the second overall pick, behind 17-year-old catcher Steve Chilcott, who was taken by the New York Mets. According to Jackson, Winkles told him that the Mets did not select him because he had a white girlfriend. Winkles later denied the story, stating that he did not know the reason why Jackson was not drafted by the Mets. It was later confirmed by Joe McDonald that the Mets drafted Chilcott because of need, yet again the person running the Mets at the time was George Weiss, a known racist, so the true motive may never be known. Jackson, age 20, signed with the A’s for $95,000 on June 13 and reported for his first training camp with the Lewis-Clark Broncs of the short season Single-A Northwest League in Lewiston, Idaho, managed by Grady Wilson. He made his professional debut as a center fielder in the season opener on June 24 at Bethel Park in Eugene, Oregon, but was hitless in five at-bats. In the next game, Jackson singled in the first inning and homered in the ninth. In the home opener at Bengal Field in Lewiston on June 30, he hit a double and a triple. In his final game as a Bronc on July 6, Jackson was hit in the head by a pitch in the first inning, but stayed in the game and drove in runs with two sacrifice flies. Complaining of a headache, he left the game in the ninth inning, was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lewiston, and remained overnight for observation. Jackson played for two Class A teams in 1966, with the Broncs for just 12 games, and then 56 games with Modesto in the California League, where he hit 21 homers. He began 1967 with the Birmingham A’s in the Double-A Southern Leaguein Birmingham, Alabama, where Jackson got his first taste of racism, being one of only a few blacks on the team. He credits the team’s manager at the time, John McNamara, for helping him through that difficult season.
Jackson debuted in the major leagues with the A’s in 1967 in a Friday doubleheader in Kansas City on June 9, a shutout sweep of the Cleveland Indians by scores of 2–0 and 6–0 at Municipal Stadium. (Jackson had his first career hit in the nightcap, a lead-off triple in the fifth inning off of long reliever Orlando Peña. The Athletics moved west to Oakland prior to the 1968 season. Jackson hit 47 home runs in 1969, and was briefly ahead of the pace that Roger Maris set when he broke the single-season record for home runs with 61 in 1961, and that of Babe Ruth when he set the previous record of 60 in 1927. Jackson later said that the sportswriters were claiming he was “dating a lady named ‘Ruth Maris.'” That off-season, Jackson sought an increase in salary, and Athletics owner Charlie O. Finley threatened to send Jackson to the minors. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn successfully intervened in their dispute, but Jackson’s numbers in 1970 dropped sharply, as he hit just 23 home runs while batting .237. The Athletics sent him to play in Puerto Rico, where he played for the Santurce team and hit 20 homers and knocked in 47 runs to lead the league in both departments. Jackson hit a memorable home run in the 1971 All-Star Game at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Batting for the American League against Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis, the ball he hit soared above the right-field stands, striking the transformer of a light standard on the right field roof. While with the Angels in 1984, he hit a home run over that roof. In 1971, the Athletics won the American League’s West division, their first title of any kind since 1931, when they played in Philadelphia. They were swept in three games in the American League Championship Series by the Baltimore Orioles. The A’s won the division again in 1972; their series with the Tigers went the full five games, and Jackson scored the tying run in the clincher on a steal of home. In the process, however, he tore a hamstring and was unable to play in the World Series. The A’s still managed to defeat the Cincinnati Reds in seven games. It was the first championship won by a San Francisco Bay Areateam in any major league sport.
During spring training in 1972, Jackson showed up with a mustache. Though his teammates wanted him to shave it off, Jackson refused. Finley liked the mustache so much that he offered each player $300 to grow one, and hosted a “Mustache Day” featuring the last MLB player to wear a mustache, Frenchy Bordagaray, as master of ceremonies. Jackson helped the Athletics win the pennant again in 1973, and was named Most Valuable Player of the American League for the season. The A’s defeated the New York Mets in seven hard-fought games in the World Series. This time, Jackson was not only able to play, but his performance led to his being awarded the Series’ Most Valuable Player award. In the third inning of that seventh game, which ended in a 5–2 score, the A’s jumped out to a 4–0 lead as both Bert Campaneris and Jackson hit two-run home runs off Jon Matlack—the only two home runs Oakland hit the entire Series. The A’s won the World Series again in 1974, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games. Besides hitting 254 home runs in nine years with the Athletics, Jackson was also no stranger to controversy or conflict in Oakland. Sports author Dick Crouser wrote, “When the late Al Helfer was broadcasting the Oakland A’s games, he was not too enthusiastic about Reggie Jackson’s speed or his hustle. Once, with Jackson on third, teammate Rick Monday hit a long home run. ‘Jackson should score easily on that one,’ commented Helfer. Crouser also noted that, “Nobody seems to be neutral on Reggie Jackson. You’re either a fan or a detractor.” When teammate Darold Knowles was asked if Jackson was a hotdog (i.e., a show-off), he famously replied, “There isn’t enough mustard in the world to cover Reggie Jackson.” On June 5, 1974, outfielder Billy North and Jackson engaged in a clubhouse fight at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium. Jackson injured his shoulder, and catcher Ray Fosse, attempting to separate the combatants, suffered a crushed disk in his neck, costing him three months on the disabled list.
The Yankees signed Jackson to a five-year contract totaling $2.96 million ($12,457,965 in current dollar terms) on November 29, 1976. The number 9 that he had worn in Oakland and Baltimore was already used by Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles. Jackson asked for number 42 in memory of Jackie Robinson, but that number was given to pitching coach Art Fowler before the start of the season. Noting that Hank Aaron, at the time the holder of the career record for the most home runs, had just retired, Jackson asked for and received number 44 as a tribute to Aaron. Jackson wore number 20 for one game during spring training as a tribute to the also recently retired Frank Robinson, then he switched to number 44. Jackson’s first season with the Yankees, 1977, was a difficult one. Although team owner George Steinbrenner and several players, most notably catcher and team captain Thurman Munson and outfielder Lou Piniella, were excited about his arrival, the team’s manager, Billy Martin was not. Martin had managed the Tigers in 1972, when Jackson’s A’s beat them in the playoffs. Jackson was once quoted as saying of Martin, “I hate him, but if I played for him, I’d probably love him.” The relationship between Jackson and his new teammates was strained due to an interview with SPORT magazine writer Robert Ward. During spring training at the Yankees’ camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jackson and Ward were having drinks at a nearby bar. Jackson’s version of the story is that he noted that the Yankees had won the pennant the year before, but lost the World Series to the Reds, and suggested that they needed one thing more to win it all, and pointed out the various ingredients in his drink. Ward suggested that Jackson might be “the straw that stirs the drink.” But when the story appeared in the June 1977 issue of SPORT, Ward quoted Jackson as saying, “This team, it all flows from me. I’m the straw that stirs the drink. Maybe I should say me and Munson, but he can only stir it bad.”
Jackson has consistently denied saying anything negative about Munson in the interview and he has said that his quotes were taken out of context. However, Dave Anderson of The New York Timessubsequently wrote that he had drinks with Jackson in July 1977, and that Jackson told him, “I’m still the straw that stirs the drink. Not Munson, not nobody else on this club.” Regardless, as Munson was beloved by his teammates, Martin, Steinbrenner and Yankee fans, the relationships between them and Jackson became very strained. On June 18, in a 10–4 loss to the Boston Red Sox in a nationally televised game at Fenway Park in Boston, Jim Rice, a powerful hitter but notoriously slow runner, hit a ball into shallow right field that Jackson appeared to weakly attempt to field. Jackson failed to reach the ball which fell far in front of him, thereby allowing Rice to reach second base. Furious, Martin removed Jackson from the game without even waiting for the end of the inning, sending Paul Blair out to replace him. When Jackson arrived at the dugout, Martin yelled that Jackson had shown him up. They argued, and Jackson said that Martin’s heavy drinking had impaired his judgment. Despite Jackson being 18 years younger, about two inches taller and maybe 40 pounds heavier, Martin lunged at him, and had to be restrained by coaches Yogi Berra and Elston Howard. Red Sox fans could see this in the dugout and began cheering wildly, and the NBC TV cameras showed the confrontation to the entire country. Yankees management defused the situation by the next day, but the relationship between Jackson and Martin was permanently poisoned. However, George Steinbrenner made a crucial intervention when he gave Martin the option of either having Jackson bat in the fourth or “cleanup” spot for the rest of the season, or losing his job. Martin made the change and Jackson’s hitting improved (he had 13 home runs and 49 RBIs over his next 50 games), and the team went on a winning streak. On September 14, while in a tight three-way race for the American League Eastern Division crown with the Red Sox and Orioles, Jackson ended a game with the Red Sox by hitting a home run off Reggie Cleveland, giving the Yankees a 2–0 win. The Yankees won the division by two and a half games over the Red Sox and Orioles, and came from behind in the top of the ninth inning in the fifth and final game of the American League Championship Series to beat the Kansas City Royals for the pennant.
During the 1977 World Series against the Dodgers, Munson was interviewed, and suggested that Jackson, because of his past post-season performances, might be the better interview subject. “Go ask Mister October”, he said, giving Jackson a nickname that would stick. (In Oakland, he had been known as “Jax” and “Buck.”) Jackson hit home runs in Games Four and Five of the Series. Jackson’s crowning achievement came with his three-home-run performance in World Series-clinching Game Six, each on the first pitch, off three Dodgers pitchers. (His first plate-appearance, during the second inning, resulted in a four-pitch walk.) The first came off starter Burt Hooton, and was a line drive shot into the lower right field seats at Yankee Stadium. The second was a much faster line drive off reliever Elías Sosa into roughly the same area. With the fans chanting his name, “Reg-GIE! Reg-GIE! Reg-GIE!” the third came off reliever Charlie Hough, a knuckleball pitcher, making the distance of this home run particularly remarkable. It was a towering drive into the black-painted batter’s eye seats in center, 475 feet away.
Since Jackson had hit a home run off Dodger pitcher Don Sutton in his last at bat in Game Five, his three home runs in Game Six meant that he had hit four home runs on four consecutive swings of the bat against as many Dodgers pitchers. Jackson became the first player to win the World Series MVP award for two teams. In 27 World Series games, he amassed 10 home runs, including a record five during the 1977 Series (the last three on first pitches), 24 RBI and a .357 batting average. Babe Ruth, Albert Pujols, and Pablo Sandoval are the only other players to hit three home runs in a single World Series game. Babe Ruth accomplishing the feat twice – in 1926 and 1928 (both in Game Four). With 25 total bases, Jackson also broke Ruth’s record of 22 in the latter Series; this remains a World Series record, Willie Stargell tying it in the 1979 World Series. In 2009, Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies tied Jackson’s record for most home runs in a single World Series. An often forgotten aspect of the ending of this decisive Game 6 was the way Jackson left the field at the game’s end. Fans had been getting somewhat rowdy in anticipation of the game’s end, and some had actually thrown firecrackers out near Jackson’s area in right field. Jackson was alarmed enough about this to walk off the field, in order to get a helmet from the Yankee bench to protect himself. Shortly after this point, as the end of the game neared, fans were actually bold enough to climb over the wall, draping their legs over the side in preparation for the moment when they planned to rush onto the field. When that moment came, after pitcher Mike Torrez caught a pop-up for the game’s final out, Jackson started running at top speed off the field, actually body-checking past some of these fans filling the playing field in the manner of a football linebacker.
As he entered the last year of his Yankee contract in 1981, Jackson endured several difficulties from George Steinbrenner. After the owner consulted Jackson about signing then-free agent Dave Winfield, Jackson expected Steinbrenner to work out a new contract for him as well. Steinbrenner never did (some say never intending to) and Jackson played the season as a free agent. Jackson started slowly with the bat, and when the 1981 Major League Baseball strike began, Steinbrenner invoked a clause in Jackson’s contract forcing him to take a complete physical examination. Jackson was outraged and blasted Steinbrenner in the media. When the season resumed, Jackson’s hitting improved, partly to show Steinbrenner he wasn’t finished as a player. He hit a long home run into the upper deck in Game Five of the strike-forced 1981 American League Division Series with the Brewers, and the Yankees went on to win the pennant again. However, Jackson injured himself running the bases in Game Two of the 1981 ALCS and missed the first two games of the World Series, both of which the Yankees won. Jackson was medically cleared to play Game Three, but manager Bob Lemon refused to start him or even play him, allegedly acting under orders from Steinbrenner. The Yankees lost that game and Jackson played the remainder of the series, hitting a home run in Game Four. However, they lost the last three games and the World Series to the Dodgers.
On April 27, 1982, in Jackson’s first game back at Yankee Stadium with the Angels, he broke out of a terrible season-starting slump to hit a home run off former teammate Ron Guidry. The at-bat began with Yankee fans, angry at Steinbrenner for letting Jackson get away, starting the “Reg-GIE!” chant, and ended it with the fans chanting “Steinbrenner sucks!” By the time of Jackson’s election to the Hall of Fame, Steinbrenner had begun to say that letting him go was the biggest mistake he had made as Yankee owner.
During his freshman year at Arizona State, he met Jennie Campos, a Mexican-American. Jackson asked Campos on a date, and discovered many similarities, including the ability to speak Spanish, and being raised in a single parent home (Campos’s father was killed in the Korean War). An assistant football coach tried to break up the couple because Jackson was black and Campos was considered white. The coach contacted Campos’s uncle, a wealthy benefactor of the school, and he warned the couple that their being together was a bad idea. But the relationship held up and she later became his first wife. Jackson has been divorced since 1973. Kimberly, his only child, was born in the late 1980s. During the off-season, though still active in baseball, Jackson worked as a field reporter and color commentator for ABC Sports. Just over a month before signing with the Yankees in the fall of 1976, Jackson did analysis in the ABC booth with Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell the night his future team won the American League pennant on a homer by Chris Chambliss. During the 1980s (1983, 1985, and 1987respectively), Jackson was given the task of presiding over the World Series Trophy presentations. In addition, Jackson did color commentary for the 1984 National League Championship Series (alongside Don Drysdale and Earl Weaver). After his retirement as an active player, Jackson returned to his color commentary role covering the 1988 American League Championship Series (alongside Gary Benderand Joe Morgan) for ABC.
He also made appearances in the film The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, in which he played an Angels outfielder diabolically programmed to kill the Queen of England. He also appeared in Richie Rich, BASEketball, Summer of Sam and The Benchwarmers. He played himself in the Archie Bunker’s Place episode “Reggie-3 Archie-0” in 1982, a 1990 MacGyver episode, “Squeeze Play”, and the Malcolm in the Middle episode “Polly in the Middle”, from 2004. Jackson was also considered for the role of Geordi LaForge in the series Star Trek: The Next Generation, a role which ultimately went to LeVar Burton. From 1981 to 1982 he hosted for Nickelodeon’s Reggie Jackson’s World of Sports.
Jackson and Steinbrenner would reconcile, and Steinbrenner would hire him as a “special assistant to the principal owner”, making Jackson a consultant and a liaison to the team’s players, particularly the minority players. By this point, the Yankees, long noted for being slow to adapt to changes in race relations, have come to develop many minority players in their farm system and seek out others via trades and free agency. Jackson usually appears in uniform at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Florida, and was sought out for advice by such recent stars as Derek Jeter, before his retirement, and by former Yankee star Alex Rodriguez. “His experience is vast, and he’s especially good with the young players in our minor league system, the 17- and 18-year old kids. They respect him and what he’s accomplished in his career. When Reggie Jackson tells a young kid how he might improve his swing, he tends to listen”, said Hal Steinbrenner, Yankees’ managing general partner and co-chairperson. Jackson was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1993. He chose to wear a Yankees cap on his Hall of Fame plaque after the Oakland Athletics unceremoniously fired him from a coaching position in 1991. The Yankees retired his uniform number 44 on August 14, 1993, shortly after his induction into the Hall of Fame. The Athletics retired his number 9 on May 22, 2004. He is one of only eight MLB players to have their numbers retired by more than one team, and one of only three to have different numbers retired by two MLB teams. In 1999, Jackson placed 48th on Sporting News 100 Greatest Baseball Players. That same year, he was named one of 100 finalists for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, but was not one of the 30 players chosen by the fans.
The Yankees dedicated a plaque in his honor on July 6, 2002, which now hangs in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. The plaque calls him “One of the most colorful and exciting players of his era” and “a prolific hitter who thrived in pressure situations.” Each Yankee so honored and still living was on hand for the dedication: Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Don Mattingly. Ron Guidry, a teammate of Jackson’s for all five of his seasons with the Yankees, was there, and would be honored with a Monument Park plaque the next season. Out of respect to some of the players who Jackson admired while growing up, Jackson invited Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks to attend the ceremony, and each did so. Like Jackson, each was a member of the Hall of Fame and had hit over 500 career home runs. Each had also played in the Negro Leagues, as Jackson’s father, Martinez Jackson, had.
Joe DiMaggio was born on November 25, 1914 in Martinez, California, the eighth of nine children born to Sicilian immigrants Giuseppe (1872–1949) and Rosalia (Mercurio) (1878–1951) DiMaggio . He was delivered by a midwife identified on his birth certificate as Mrs. J. Pico. He was named Paolo after his father Giuseppe’s favorite saint, Saint Paul. The family moved to nearby San Francisco when Joe was a year old. Giuseppe was a fisherman, as were generations of DiMaggios before him. According to statements from Joe’s brother, Tom, to biographer Maury Allen, Rosalia’s father wrote to her with the advice that Giuseppe could earn a better living in California than in their native Isola delle Femmine, a northwestern Sicilian village in the province of Palermo. After being processed on Ellis Island, Giuseppe worked his way across America, eventually settling near Rosalia’s father in Pittsburg, California, on the east side of the San Francisco Bay Area. After four years, he earned enough money to send to Italy for Rosalia and their daughter, who was born after he had left for the United States. Giuseppe hoped that his five sons would become fishermen. DiMaggio recalled that he would do anything to get out of cleaning his father’s boat, as the smell of dead fish nauseated him. Giuseppe called him “lazy” and “good-for-nothing.”
DiMaggio was playing semi-pro ball when older brother Vince DiMaggio, playing for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), talked his manager into letting DiMaggio fill in at shortstop. Joe DiMaggio made his professional debut on October 1, 1932. From May 27 to July 25, 1933, he hit safely in 61 consecutive games, a PCL-record, and second-longest in all of Minor League Baseball history. “Baseball didn’t really get into my blood until I knocked off that hitting streak,” he said. “Getting a daily hit became more important to me than eating, drinking or sleeping.” In 1934, DiMaggio suffered a career-threatening knee injury when he tore ligaments while stepping out of a jitney. Scout Bill Essick of the New York Yankees, convinced that the injury would heal, pestered his club to give him another look. After DiMaggio passed a physical examination in November, the Yankees purchased his contract for $50,000 and five players. He remained with the Seals for the 1935 season and batted .398 with 154 runs batted in (RBIs) and 34 home runs. His team won the 1935 PCL title, and DiMaggio was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
DiMaggio made his major league debut on May 3, 1936, batting ahead of Lou Gehrig. The Yankees had not been to the World Series since 1932, but they won the next four Fall Classics. In total, DiMaggio led the Yankees to nine titles in 13 years. In 1939, DiMaggio was nicknamed the “Yankee Clipper” by Yankee’s stadium announcer Arch McDonald, when he likened DiMaggio’s speed and range in the outfield to the then-new Pan American airliner. In 1947, Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey and Yankees GM Larry MacPhail verbally agreed to trade DiMaggio for Ted Williams, but MacPhail refused to include Yogi Berra. In the September 1949 issue of SPORT, Hank Greenberg said that DiMaggio covered so much ground in center field that the only way to get a hit against the Yankees was “to hit ’em where Joe wasn’t.” DiMaggio also stole home five times in his career.
On February 7, 1949, DiMaggio signed a record contract worth $100,000 ($1,007,000 in current dollar terms) ($70,000 plus bonuses), and became the first baseball player to break $100,000 in earnings. By 1950, he was ranked the second-best center fielder by the Sporting News, after Larry Doby. After a poor 1951 season, a scouting report by the Brooklyn Dodgers that was turned over to the New York Giants and leaked to the press, and various injuries, DiMaggio announced his retirement at age 37 on December 11, 1951. When remarking on his retirement to the Sporting News on December 19, 1951, he said:
I feel like I have reached the stage where I can no longer produce for my club, my manager, and my teammates. I had a poor year, but even if I had hit .350, this would have been my last year. I was full of aches and pains and it had become a chore for me to play. When baseball is no longer fun, it’s no longer a game, and so, I’ve played my last game.
Through May 2009, Joe DiMaggio was tied with Mark McGwire for third place all-time in home runs over the first two calendar years in the major leagues (77), behind Phillies Hall of Famer Chuck Klein (83), and Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun (79). Through 2011, he was one of seven major leaguers to have had at least four 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons in their first five years, along with Chuck Klein, Ted Williams, Ralph Kiner, Mark Teixeira, Albert Pujols, and Ryan Braun. DiMaggio holds the record for most seasons with more home runs than strikeouts (minimum 20 home runs), a feat he accomplished seven times, and five times consecutively from 1937–1941. DiMaggio would likely have exceeded 500 home runs and 2,000 RBIs had he not served in the military.
DiMaggio might have had better power-hitting statistics had his home park not been Yankee Stadium. As “The House That Ruth Built”, its nearby right field favored the Babe’s left-handed power. For right-handed hitters, its deep left and center fields made home runs almost impossible. Mickey Mantle recalled that he and Whitey Ford witnessed many DiMaggio blasts that would have been home runs anywhere other than Yankee Stadium (Ruth himself fell victim to that problem, as he also hit many long flyouts to center). Bill James calculated that DiMaggio lost more home runs due to his home park than any other player in history. Left-center field went as far back as 457 ft [139 m], where left-center rarely reaches 380 ft [116 m] in today’s ballparks. Al Gionfriddo’s famous catch in the 1947 World Series, which was close to the 415-foot mark [126 m] in left-center, would have been a home run in the Yankees’ current ballpark. Joe DiMaggio hit 148 home runs in 3,360 at-bats at home versus 213 home runs in 3,461 at-bats on the road. His slugging percentage at home was .546, and on the road, it was .610.
Joe DiMaggio became eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953 but he was not elected until 1955. The Hall of Fame rules on the post-retirement induction waiting period had been revised in the interim, extending the waiting period from one to five years, but DiMaggio and Ted Lyons were exempted from the rule. DiMaggio told Baseball Digest in 1963 that the Brooklyn Dodgers had offered him their managerial job in 1953, but he turned it down. After being out of baseball since his retirement as a player, Joe became the first hitting instructor of the newly relocated Oakland Athletics from 1968 to 1970.
DiMaggio’s most famous achievement is his MLB record-breaking 56-game hitting streak in 1941. The streak began on May 15, 1941, a couple of weeks before the death of Lou Gehrig, when DiMaggio went one-for-four against Chicago White Sox pitcher Eddie Smith. Major newspapers began to write about DiMaggio’s streak early on, but as he approached George Sisler’s modern era record of 41 games, it became a national phenomenon. Initially, DiMaggio showed little interest in breaking Sisler’s record, saying “I’m not thinking a whole lot about it… I’ll either break it or I won’t.” As he approached Sisler’s record, DiMaggio showed more interest, saying, “At the start I didn’t think much about it… but naturally I’d like to get the record since I am this close.” On June 29, 1941, DiMaggio doubled in the first game of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium to tie Sisler’s record, and then singled in the nightcap to extend his streak to 42.
DiMaggio enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces on February 17, 1943, rising to the rank of sergeant. He was stationed at Santa Ana, California, Hawaii, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, as a physical education instructor. He was released on medical discharge in September 1945, due to chronic stomach ulcers. Other than now being paid $21 a month, DiMaggio’s service was as comfortable as a soldier’s life could be. He spent most of his career playing for baseball teams and in exhibition games against fellow Major Leaguers and minor league players, and superiors gave him special privileges due to his prewar fame. DiMaggio ate so well from an athlete-only diet that he gained 10 pounds, and while in Hawaii he and other players mostly tanned on the beach and drank. Embarrassed by his lifestyle, DiMaggio demanded combat duty in 1943, but was turned down.
In January 1937, DiMaggio met actress Dorothy Arnold on the set of Manhattan Merry-Go-Round, in which he had a minor role, and she was an extra. They married at San Francisco’s St. Peter and Paul Church on November 19, 1939, as 20,000 well-wishers jammed the streets. Their son, Joseph Paul DiMaggio III, was born at Doctors Hospital on October 23, 1941. The couple divorced in 1944. According to her autobiography, Marilyn Monroe originally did not want to meet DiMaggio, fearing that he was a stereotypical arrogant athlete. They eloped at San Francisco City Hall on January 14, 1954. An incident between the couple is supposed to have occurred immediately after the skirt-blowing scene in The Seven Year Itch that was filmed on September 14, 1954, in front of Manhattan’s Trans-Lux 52nd Street Theater. Then-20th Century Fox’s East Coast correspondent Bill Kobrin told the Palm Springs Desert Sun that it was director Billy Wilder’s idea to turn the shoot into a media circus. The couple then had a “yelling battle” in the theater lobby. A month later, she contracted the services of celebrity attorney Jerry Giesler and filed for divorce on grounds of mental cruelty nine months after the wedding. After the failure of their marriage, DiMaggio had undergone therapy, stopped drinking alcohol and expanded his interests beyond baseball: he and Monroe read poetry together in their later years. DiMaggio re-entered Monroe’s life as her marriage to Arthur Miller was ending. On February 10, 1961, he secured her release from Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic. She joined him in Florida where he was a batting coach for the Yankees. Their “just friends” claim did not stop remarriage rumors from flying. Reporters staked out her Manhattan apartment building. Bob Hope “dedicated” Best Song nominee “The Second Time Around” to them at the 33rd Academy Awards. According to Maury Allen’s biography, DiMaggio was alarmed at how Monroe had fallen in with people he felt were detrimental to her well-being. Val Monette, owner of a military post-exchange supply company, told Allen that DiMaggio left his employ on August 1, 1962, because he had decided to ask Monroe to remarry him. She was found dead in her Brentwood, Los Angeles, home on August 5 after housekeeper Eunice Murray telephoned Monroe’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. DiMaggio’s son had spoken to Monroe on the phone the night of her death and claimed that she seemed fine. Her death was deemed a probable suicide by “Coroner to the Stars” Thomas Noguchi, but has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories.
DiMaggio, a heavy smoker for much of his adult life, was admitted to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida, on October 12, 1998, for lung cancer surgery and remained there for 99 days. He returned to his Hollywood, Florida home on January 19, 1999, where he died on March 8. Joe DiMaggio’s final words were: “I finally get to see Marilyn”, referring to his former wife Marilyn Monroe. DiMaggio’s funeral was held on March 11, 1999, at Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in San Francisco; he was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California. DiMaggio’s son died the following August at age 57. A highway lining the Hudson River in Manhattan, New York from the end of Lower Manhattan is named the Joe DiMaggio Highway. It runs for the entire way.
At his death, The New York Times called Joe DiMaggio’s 1941 56-game hitting streak “perhaps the most enduring record in sports.” In an article in 1976 in Esquire magazine, sportswriter Harry Stein published an “All Time All-Star Argument Starter”, consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Joe DiMaggio was the center fielder on Stein’s Italian team. On September 17, 1992, the doors were opened at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida, for which he raised over $4,000,000. On April 13, 1998, DiMaggio was given the Sports Legend Award at the 13th annual American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame Awards Dinner in New York City. Dr. Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and a longtime fan of DiMaggio’s, made the presentation to the Yankee great. The event was one of DiMaggio’s last public appearances before taking ill. Yankee Stadium’s fifth monument was dedicated to DiMaggio on April 25, 1999, and the West Side Highway was officially renamed in his honor. The Yankees wore DiMaggio’s number 5 on the left sleeves of their uniforms for the 1999 season. He is ranked No. 11 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and he was elected by fans to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. In addition to his number 5 being retired by the New York Yankees, DiMaggio’s number was also retired by the Florida Marlins, who retired it in honor of their first team president, Carl Barger, who died five months before the team took the field for the first time in 1993. DiMaggio had been his favorite player.
An auction of Joe DiMaggio’s personal items was held by the adopted daughters of DiMaggio’s son in May 2006. Highlights included the ball hit to break Wee Willie Keeler’s hitting-streak record ($63,250); his 2,000th career hit ball ($29,900); his 1947 Most Valuable Player Award ($281,750); the uniform worn in the 1951 World Series ($195,500); his Hall of Fame ring ($69,000); a photograph Marilyn autographed “I love you Joe” ($80,500); her passport ($115,000); and their marriage certificate ($23,000). Lot 758, DiMaggio’s white 1991 Mercedes 420 SEL sedan, which was a gift from the New York Yankees commemorating the 50th anniversary of DiMaggio’s 1941 season, sold for $18,000. The event netted a total of $4.1 million. On August 8, 2011, the United States Postal Service announced that DiMaggio would appear on a stamp for the first time. It was issued as part of the “Major League Baseball All-Star Stamp Series” which came out in July 2012.
William Malcom Dickey was born on June 6th, 1907 in Bastrop, Louisiana. He was one of seven children to parents John and Laura Dickey. His father, John, worked as a brakeman for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. He had also played semi-proffesional baseball for a team based in Memphis Tennessee. Eventually, the family moved to Kennett, Arkansas. William (Bill) attended high school in Searcy, Arkansas; he was a pitcher and second baseman for the schools baseball team. After graduating, he attended Little Rock College where he played guard for the school’s American football team and pitcher for the baseball team. Bill substituted for a friend on a semi-professional team in Hot Springs, Arkansas as a catcher. His throwing arm impressed the team’s manager. Lena Blackburne (manager of the Little Rock Travelers) was out scouting an outfielder for the team and noticed Bill Dickey. She signed him to play for her team.
In 1925 at the age of 18, Bill Dickey made his professional debut in the minor leagues. He was with the Little Rock Travelers of the Class A Southern Association. Players would be sent between Little Rock, the Muskogee Athletics of the Class C Western Association, and the Jackson Senators of the Class D Cotton States League. Dickey playing in three grams for Little Rock in 1925, and the was assigned to Muskogee in 1926. He had a .238 batting average in 61 games. He then returned to Little Rock, and batted .391 in 17 games at the end of the season. All in all he played 101 games for Jackson in 1927, batting .297 with three home runs.
After the 1927 season, Jackson waived Bill Dickey. A scout for the New York Yankees (Johnny Nee,) spoke with the GM at the time saying they should take him. The Yankees bought Dickey from Jackson for $12,500 (in current dollar terms: $172,553.) Even while suffering through influenza during spring training in 1928, Dickey managed to impress the Miller Huggins (Yankee Manager.) After appearing in three games for Buffalo, Dickey finally made his Major League Debut with the Yankees on August 15, 1928. His first hit was a triple on August 24th. In 1929, Benny Bengough (Yankee’s starting catcher) was replaced by Dickey. Bill Dickey hit .324 with 10 home runs and 65 RBI’s. He led catchers with 95 assists and 13 double plays. In 1931, Bill Dickey made minimal errors and batted .327 with a 78 RBI. This was the same year that he was named by The Sporting News to it’s All-Star Team. In the late 1930’s, Dickey had some of his finest offensive seasons ever by a catcher, he hit over 20 home runs and had a 100 RBI in four consecutive seasons (from 1936 through 1939.) His batting average in 1936 (.362) was the highest single-season average ever recorded by a catcher. This was later tied by Mike Piazza in 1997, and broke by Joe Mauer in 2009. In 1932, Dickey received a 30-day suspension and $1,000 fine after breaking the jaw of Carl Reynolds during a game. In the 1932 World Series, he batted 7-for-16, with three walks, 4 RBI and scored two runs. In 1936, Dickey hit .362, finishing third in the AL behind Luke Appling (.388) and Earl Averill (.378). Bill Dickey seeked a salary of $25,000 in 1936, he signed a contract fro a $20,500 salary in 1940.
During the season of 1941, it marked the thirteenth year in which he caught at least 100 games, this was an MLB record. He also set a double play record and led AL catchers with a .994 fielding percentage. In 1942, Dickey suffered a shoulder injury which ended his streak of catching 100 games in one season. During this time Dickey’s backup, Buddy Rosar, left the team without permission so he could take an entrance exam for the Buffalo Police Force and to be with his wife and soon-to-be-born child. Yankee’s Manager Joe McCarthy signed Rollie Hemsley to be the second string catcher, making Rosar third string. Bill Dickey was watching his playing time dissipate with the new addition to the team. He returned to the team again in 1942. In 1943, Dickey hit the series-clinching home run for the 1943 World Series. After this, he was honored as the player of the year by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America.
After the 1943 season, Dickey was rumored to be a candidate for the Philadelphia Phillies. However, on March 15, 1944 Dickey entered the United States Navy. He was discharged in 1946. Returning to the Yankee’s in 1946, Dickey was able to become player-manager after Joe McCarthy resigned. Under Dickey’s command, the Yankee’s were 57-48. During this time, Larry MacPhail refused to give Dickey a new contract until after the season. Dickey resigned on September 12, but remained as a player. After the season, Dickey ultimately retired from playing. He had in total 202 home runs, 1,209 RBI and a .313 batting average. in 1947, Dickey managed the Travelers. The team finished with a 51-103 record, last in the Southern Association. Returning as a first base coach to the Yankees in 1949, Dickey became an aid to Yogi Berra (who was playing first base.) Berra inherited Dickey’s old number of 8, so Dickey wore 33 until the end of the 1960 season. When Berra moved to the outfield, Dickey instructed Elston Howard on catching.
In 1942, while still an active player, Dickey appeared as himself in the film The Pride of the Yankees, which starred Gary Cooper as the late Yankee captain and first baseman Lou Gehrig. Late in the movie, when Gehrig was fading due to the disease that would eventually take his life, a younger Yankee grumbled, in the locker room, “the old man on first needs crutches to get around!”—and Dickey, following the script, belted the younger player, after which he said the kid “talked out of turn.”Dickey also appeared as himself in the film The Stratton Story in 1949. In the film, Dickey was scripted to take a called third strike from Jimmy Stewart’s character. Dickey objected, stating “I never took a third strike. I always swung”, and asking the director, Sam Wood, to allow him to swing through the third strike; Wood insisted that Dickey take the third strike. After many takes, Dickey commented: “I’ve struck out more times this morning than I did throughout my entire baseball career.”
On October 5, 1932, Dickey married Violet Arnold, a New York showgirl, at St. Mark’s Church in Jackson Heights, New York. The couple had one child, Lorraine, born in 1935. Dickey was an excellent quail hunter. He spent part of his retirement in the 1970s and 1980s residing in the Yarborough Landing community on the shore of Millwood Lake in southwestern Arkansas. He died in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1993.
Dickey was noted for his excellent hitting and his ability to handle pitchers. He was also known for his relentlessly competitive nature. Dickey was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1954. In 1972, the Yankees retired the number 8 in honor of Dickey and Berra. On August 22, 1988, the Yankees honored both Dickey and Berra by hanging plaques honoring them in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Dickey opined that Berra was “An elementary Yankee” who’s “considered the greatest catcher of all time.” Dickey was named in 1999 to The Sporting News list of Baseball’s Greatest Players, ranking number 57, trailing Johnny Bench (16), Josh Gibson (18), Yogi Berra (40), and Roy Campanella (50) among catchers. Like those catchers, Dickey was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, but the fan balloting chose Berra and Bench as the two catchers on the team. In 2007, Dickey-Stephens Park opened in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The ballpark was named after Bill; his brother George; and two famous Arkansas businessmen, Jackson and Witt Stephens.
Yogi Berra was born Lorenzo Pietro Berra on May 12, 1925 in a primarily Italian neighborhood of St. Louis called “The Hill” to Italian immigrants Pietro and Paolina Berra. In a 2005 interview, Yogi said, “My father came over first. He came from the old country. And he didn’t know what baseball was. He was ready to go to work. And then I had three other brothers and a sister. My brother and my mother came over later on. My two oldest brothers, they were born there—Mike and Tony. John and I and my sister Josie were born in St. Louis.” Yogi Berra grew up on Elizabeth Avenue, across the street from boyhood friend and later competitor Joe Garagiola. Berra attended South Side Catholic, now called St. Mary’s High School, in south St. Louis alongside Garagiola. That block was also home to Jack Buck, and it was later renamed “Hall of Fame Place”.
Berra began playing baseball in local American Legion leagues where he learned the basics of catching while playing outfield and infield positions, as well. He also played for a Cranston, Rhode Island team. While playing in American Legion baseball, he received his famous nickname from his friend Jack Maguire, who said that he resembled a Hindu yogi whenever he sat around with arms and legs crossed waiting to bat or while looking sad after a losing game.
In 1942, the St. Louis Cardinals picked Berra’s best friend Joe Garagiola to play for the team. At first, the Cardinals seemed to think Garagiola was the better pick, but team president Branch Rickey had an ulterior motive: Knowing he was soon to leave St. Louis to take over the operation of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Rickey planned to hold Berra off until he could sign him for the Dodgers. But, the Yankees grabbed Berra for the same $500 bonus the Cardinals offered Garagiola before Rickey could sign Berra to the Dodgers.
Yogi Berra served in the Navy during World War II as a gunner’s mate on the attack transport USS Bayfield during the D-Day invasion of France. Berra was one of a six-man crew on a Navy rocket boat, firing machine guns and launching rockets at the German defenses at Omaha Beach. He was fired upon, but was not hit, and later received several commendations for his bravery. Following his military service, Berra played minor-league baseball with the Newark Bears, surprising the team’s manager with his talent despite his short stature. He was mentored by Hall of Famer Bill Dickey, whose uniform number Berra took. He later said, “I owe everything I did in baseball to Bill Dickey.”
Berra played his first game on September 22, 1946, and went on to play 7 more games that season and 83 games in 1947, for the Yankees. He played more than one hundred in each of the following fourteen years. Berra appeared in fourteen World Series, including 10 World Series championships. Berra was an All-Star for 15 seasons, and was selected to 18 All-Star Games (MLB held two All-Star Games in 1959 through 1962). He won the American League MVP award in 1951, 1954, and 1955; Berra never finished lower than fourth in the MVP voting from 1950 to 1957. He received MVP votes in fifteen consecutive seasons, tied with Barry Bonds and second only to Hank Aaron’s nineteen straight seasons with MVP support. From 1949 to 1955, on a team filled with stars such as Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, it was Berra who led the Yankees in RBI for seven consecutive seasons. One of the most notable games of Berra’s playing career came when he caught Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, the first of only two no-hitters ever thrown in MLB postseason play. The pictures of Berra leaping into Larsen’s arms following the 27th out are among the sport’s most memorable images.
Yogi Berra was famous for hitting poor pitches, covering all areas of the strike zone (as well as beyond) with great extension. In addition to this wide plate coverage, he also had great bat control. He was able both to swing the bat like a golf club to hit low pitches for deep home runs and to chop at high pitches for line drives. Whether changing speeds or location, pitcher Early Wynn soon discovered that “Berra moves right with you.” Five times, Berra had more home runs than strikeouts in a season, striking out just twelve times in 597 at-bats in 1950. The combination of bat control and plate coverage made Berra a feared “clutch hitter”, proclaimed by rival manager Paul Richards “the toughest man in the league in the last three innings”.
As a catcher Berra was even more outstanding. Quick, mobile, and a great handler of pitchers, Berra led all American League catchers eight times in games caught and in chances accepted, six times in double plays (a major-league record), eight times in putouts, three times in assists, and once in fielding percentage. Berra left the game with AL records for catcher putouts (8,723) and chances accepted (9,520). He was also one of only four catchers ever to field 1.000 in a season, playing 88 errorless games in 1958. He was the first catcher to leave one finger outside his glove, a style that most other catchers eventually emulated. In June 1962, at the age of 37, Berra showed his superb physical endurance by catching an entire 22-inning, seven-hour game against the Detroit Tigers. Casey Stengel, Berra’s manager during most of his playing career with the Yankees and with the Mets in 1965, once said, “I never play a game without my man.” According to the Win Shares formula developed by sabermetrician Bill James, Berra is the greatest catcher of all time and the 52nd-greatest non-pitching player in major-league history. Berra caught a record 173 shutouts during his career, ranking him first all-time among major league catchers.
Berra retired after the 1963 World Series, and was immediately named to succeed Ralph Houk as manager of the Yankees. Much was made of an incident on board the team bus in August 1964 involving Phil Linz, who was playing his harmonica. Berra ordered him to stop and when he didn’t stop playing, Berra slapped the harmonica out of his hands. Everybody forgot about the incident when Berra’s Yankees rode a September surge to return to the World Series, but when the team lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games, Yogi Berra was fired. Houk, who was general manager at the time, said the decision to fire Berra was made in late August and that the incident with Linz had nothing to do with it. Although he didn’t elaborate, Houk said that he and the rest of the Yankee brain trust did not feel Berra was ready to manage. Players, however, said the incident actually solidified his managerial authority and helped him lead them to the Series.
Yogi Berra was then immediately signed to the Mets as a coach. He also put in four cameo appearances as a catcher early in the season. His last at-bat came on May 9, 1965, just three days shy of his 40th birthday. Berra stayed with the Mets as a coach under Stengel, Wes Westrum, and Gil Hodges for the next seven seasons, including their 1969 World Series Championship season. He then became the team’s manager in 1972, following Hodges’ unexpected death in spring training. Berra’s tenure as Mets manager ended with his firing on August 5, 1975. He had a record of 298 wins and 302 losses, which included the 1973 postseason. In 1976, he rejoined the Yankees as a coach. The team won its first of three consecutive AL titles, as well as the 1977 World Series and 1978 World Series, and (as had been the case throughout his playing days) Berra’s reputation as a lucky charm was reinforced. Casey Stengel once said of his catcher, “He’d fall in a sewer and come up with a gold watch.” Berra was named Yankee manager before the 1984 season. Berra agreed to stay in the job for 1985 after receiving assurances that he would not be terminated, but the impatient Steinbrenner reneged, firing Berra anyway after the 16th game of the season. Moreover, instead of firing him personally, Steinbrenner dispatched Clyde King to deliver the news for him. The incident caused a rift between Berra and Steinbrenner that was not mended for almost 15 years. In 1999, after George Steinbrenner ventured to Berra’s home in New Jersey to apologize in person for having mishandled Berra’s firing as Yankee manager, Berra ended his 14-year estrangement from the Yankee organization and worked in spring-training camp with catcher Jorge Posada.
Berra and former teammate Phil Rizzuto were partners in a bowling alley venture in Clifton, New Jersey, originally called Rizzuto-Berra Lanes. The two eventually sold their stakes in the alley to new owners, who changed its name to Astro Bowl before selling the property to a developer, who closed the bowling alley in 1999 and converted it into retail space.
Over the years, Yogi Berra received many honors and awards. These include: receiving the Boy Scouts of America’s Silver Buffalo Award, being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame (1972), receiving an honorary doctorate from Montclair State University (1996), and appearing at No. 40 on The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players (1998). The No. 8 was retired in 1972 by the Yankees, jointly honoring Berra and Bill Dickey, his predecessor as the Yankees’ star catcher. On August 22, 1988, Berra and Dickey were honored with plaques to be hung in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Berra’s plaque calls him “A legendary Yankee” and cites his most frequent quote, “It ain’t over till it’s over”. However, the honor was not enough to shake Berra’s conviction that Steinbrenner had broken their personal agreement; Berra did not set foot in the stadium for another decade, until Steinbrenner publicly apologized to Berra. At the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, Berra had the honor of being the last of the 49 Hall of Famers in attendance to be announced. The hometown favorite received the loudest standing ovation of the group.
On July 18, 1999, Berra was honored with “Yogi Berra Day” at Yankee Stadium. Don Larsen threw the ceremonial first pitch to Berra to honor the perfect game of the 1956 World Series. The celebration marked the return of Berra to the stadium, after the end of his 14-year feud with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. In 2008, Berra was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. In 1998, the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center and Yogi Berra Stadium opened on the campus of Montclair State University in New Jersey. Berra was involved with the project and frequently visited the museum for signings, discussions, and other events. It was his intention to teach children important values such as sportsmanship and dedication on and off the baseball diamond. Berra was also involved in causes related to his Italian American heritage. He was a longtime supporter of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) and helped fund raise for the Foundation. He was inducted into the Italian American Hall of Fame in 2004. Yogi was also named “Wisest Fool of the Past 50 Years” by The Economist magazine in January 2005.
On November 24, 2015, Berra was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House attended by members of Berra’s family, who accepted the award on his behalf. At the ceremony, the President said: “Today we celebrate some extraordinary people. Innovators, artists and leaders who contribute to America’s strength as a nation.” Celebrating Berra’s military service and remarkable baseball career, Obama used one of Berra’s famous ‘Yogiisms’, saying, “One thing we know for sure: If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.”
Berra married Carmen Short on January 26, 1949. They had three sons and were longtime residents of Montclair, New Jersey, until his wife’s declining health caused them to move into a nearby assisted living facility. Berra’s sons also played professional sports: Dale Berra played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees (managed by Yogi in 1984–85), and Houston Astros; Tim Berra played pro football for the Baltimore Colts in 1974; and Larry Berra played for three minor league teams in the New York Mets organization. Carmen Berra died on March 6, 2014, of complications from a stroke, the couple having recently celebrated their 65th anniversary. Following Carmen’s death, the house in Montclair was listed for sale at $888,000, a reference to Yogi’s uniform number.
Berra died at age 90 of natural causes in his sleep in West Caldwell, New Jersey, on September 22, 2015 – 69 years to the day after his MLB debut. The Yankees added a number “8” patch to their uniforms in honor of Berra, and the Empire State Building was lit with vertical blue and white Yankee “pinstripes” on September 23. New York City lowered all flags in the city to half-staff for a day in tribute. A moment of silence was held before the September 23 games of the Yankees, Dodgers, Astros, Mets, Nationals, Tigers, Pirates, and his hometown St. Louis Cardinals, as well as the ALPB’s Long Island Ducks. The Yogi Berra Museum held a tribute on October 4. Berra’s funeral services were held on September 29. He was interred at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in East Hanover, New Jersey.
Well friends, it is a bittersweet day for Baseball fans. The World Series is over, marking the end of the 2016 season. Even though we won’t be seeing our beloved Yanks take the field for quite some time, the Yankees announced that they are undergoing some major changes to Yankee Stadium. According to The Daily News, the Stadium will undergo its first series of major design enhancements since the ballpark opened in 2009, adding seven new social gathering spaces as well as additional food and beverage areas.
Yankees fans will have the opportunity to spend time with guests who have tickets in other sections of the Stadium, allowing all guests to be able to enjoy the game from multiple vantage points while having unique food and drink options available to them. In addition to the new gathering spaces, there will also be a new Sunrun Kid’s Clubhouse. It is going to be the first-ever children’s zone at the ballpark. Shaped like a mini-baseball field with a soft, artificial surface, the 2,850-square-foot area will be located on the 300 level in right field, outfitted with oversized baseballs, bases and baseball cards as well as a six-foot-high replica World Series trophy.
They are also adding a MasterCard Batter’s Eye Deck located on the 200 level in center field, Bullpen Landings on the 100 level in left and right field, an AT&T Sports Lounge featuring DirecTV service in Section 134 and Budweiser Party Decks in
Sections 311 and 328 featuring shaded stand-alone bar areas.
In order to fit all of these new amenities, the Yankees are removing just under 2,100 seats, including 1,100 obstructed-view bleacher seats and approximately 600 Terrace level seats. But the good news is that more than 200,000 additional tickets priced $15 or less will be made available for the 2017 regular season, according to the team.
So hang in there Yankees fans! There will be a lot to look forward to in the near future!
Thanks to The Daily News for providing the article on Yankee Stadium! To read the original article by Mark Feinsand, you can go here. To see more photos of the planning, you can visit Newsday’s post here.
CC Sabathia, left-handed pitcher for the Yankees, is scheduled to have knee surgery sometime next week, according to Brian Cashman. This was announced during the general manager’s season-ending news conference at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Cashman said the unspecified problem has been pending toward the end of a season. Sabathia finished with a 9-12 record and a 3.91 ERA in 30 starts. He also explained that though he doesn’t know the specifics, it is a routine clean up surgery and is not considered to be serious. CC has already had surgery on the same knee, ending his 2014 season after eight starts. He’s been pitching with a brace on that knee since the end of the ’15 season.
Sabathia’s contract option for 2017 is worth $25 million vested at the end of the season when he didn’t finish on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury. He had surgery to remove a bone spur from his left elbow after the ’12 season, but he has never had a problem with his shoulder.
Sabathia, 36, is expected to again be in the Yankees’ rotation next season, along with Tanaka and Pineda.
Sabathia finished the season with a flourish, allowing just a single run in three of his last four starts. In his final start this past Thursday against the Red Sox, he went 7 1/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out eight and earned the decision in a 5-1 win. Sabathia’s 223 wins are second among active pitchers behind Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon, who has 233.
To read more and see a video of ‘Sabathia’s Winning Start’ you can go here.
Elston Gene “Ellie” Howard was born on February 23, 1929 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Emmaline Webb and Travis Howard. A schoolteacher in Sikeston, Missouri, Emmaline fled to St. Louis when Howard, her principal, refused to marry her. She worked to become a dietician, and when Elston Howard was 5 years old, she married Wayman “Big Poppy” Hill. Howard attended the Toussaint L’Ouverture school as well as the Mt. Zion Baptist Church.The church’s pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah M. Baker, became Elston’s godfather, and the boy was raised to work hard and eat right. Howard grew up to be an American professional baseball catcher, left fielder and coach. During his 14-year baseball career, he played in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball from 1948 through 1968, primarily for the New York Yankees though he also played for the Kansas City Monarchs and the Boston Red Sox.
In the summer of 1945, Howard, then 16, was playing baseball in a sandlot when Frank Tetnus “Teannie” Edwards approached him. “The biggest kid on the field was hitting the ball so hard and far that it made Teannie mad,” wrote Arlene Howard in her book Elston and Me. “When he got to the field he found out that the big kid was, in fact, one of the youngest on the lot.” Edwards, a former Negro Leagues player himself, helped run the St. Louis Braves and he wanted Elston. Convincing Emmaline was the hardest part. Edwards had to promise that young Elston would eat properly. On Easter Sunday 1946, Howard debuted in the Tandy League, catching in a game against Kinloch. He had two hits and threw out two runners trying to steal second in a 5-4 loss.The following year, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the Major Leagues.
Now 18, Howard was working at Bauer’s grocery store and finishing at all-black Vashon High School. After Robinson’s debut, Vashon hastily formed a baseball team. Elston Howard was already a star athlete at Vashon, playing football, running track, and making all-state in basketball. He was easily the best player in baseball, as well, and after graduating from Vashon, he played another summer with the Braves. He was urged by Teannie Edwards to attend an open tryout for the St. Louis Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park, but the Cardinals turned a blind eye. Meanwhile, college beckoned, with three Big Ten schools (Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State) asking for his services in football and several others interested in him for track, basketball, and baseball. Emmaline was hoping her son might grow up to be a doctor. But Edwards called in scouts from the Kansas City Monarchs, the elite Negro Leagues team Jackie Robinson had played for. The Monarchs were so impressed that they went to his mother to negotiate a professional contract. Elston would get $500 a month, mailed directly to her.
Elston Howard played under manager Buck O’Neil for three years as an outfielder and roomed with Ernie Banks. He was signed by the Yankees on July 19, 1950, after being purchased along with Frank Barnes and they were assigned to the Muskegon Clippers, the Yankees’ farm team in the Central League. Now 21, Howard debuted on July 26, 1950, in left field for the Class A Muskegon, Michigan, Clippers. He would earn $400 a month. The Clippers had a 39-46 record when he arrived, and went 36-18 in the 54 games he played, making the playoffs. Howard batted cleanup and hit well, but the Clippers fell short of the league championship.
Returning to St. Louis for the off-season, Elston announced his decision to marry his high school sweetheart, Delores Williams. Just before the wedding, he was drafted into the Army, at the height of the Korean War. While he was in basic training, the marriage with Delores was dissolved — there are conflicting stories as to why. Elston Howard was sent overseas, but he never fought in Korea. Once the Army realized it had a great baseball player on its hands, he was assigned to Special Services and sent to Japan. That was all Howard ever did in the army: play baseball. Howard missed the 1951 and 1952 seasons due to his military service in the United States Army. In 1953, Elston Howard played for the Kansas City Blues of the Class AAA American Association. The next year, the Yankees invited Howard to spring training and began to convert him into a catcher, despite the presence of Yogi Berra as the Yankees’ starting catcher. He played for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the Class AAA International League in 1954. He led the league in triples and won the league’s MVP award.
Shortly before Christmas, Elston proposed to Arlene Henley. He spent February 1954 at “Yankee Prospects School” with 28 other ballplayers in Lake Wales, Florida, and March at spring training with the big club. Bill Dickey, former Yankee great, worked with him to make him a major league catcher. When the Yankees broke camp, they took three catchers north with them: Berra, Silvera, and Houk. They didn’t want to send Elston Howard back to the Blues, so they arranged for him to play with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the International League. Elston Howard won the league MVP Award, hit .330, with 22 homers and 109 RBIs. At the end of the season, he gave Arlene an engagement ring, and they planned to marry in the spring of 1955 but the Yankees decided to send Howard to winter ball in Puerto Rico so the wedding to Arlene was rushed to December 4, 1954. Howard’s godfather, Reverend Baker, married them in Arlene’s mother’s living room. They honeymooned in San Juan, where they lived in the same building as Willie Mays and Sam Jones. Then Howard was off to St. Petersburg for Yankee camp, Arlene back to St. Louis, pregnant with the couple’s first child.
His on-field debut happened on April 14 at Fenway Park, subbing for Irv Noren, who had been ejected for arguing with an umpire. Perhaps the most memorable effect of Howard’s presence on the Yankees that year, though, was that the team changed its hotel policy, staying only in hotels that would accept Howard as a guest. Elston hit .290 in 97 games his rookie season, with another five hits in the World Series, including a home run in his first World Series at-bat. That performance was offset by eight strikeouts, and the Dodgers won their first World Series. Howard made the final out of the Series, then traveled to Japan with the Yankees for a good will tour. On the 25-game tour of the Pacific, Howard hit .468 to lead the team. Meanwhile, Elston Jr. was born.
In the 1955 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Howard hit a home run in his first at bat, which tied the game 2-2; the Yankees won 6-5, but it was Howard’s ground ball out to Pee Wee Reese in Game 7 which ended the Series, the first time in six meetings that the Yankees lost to Brooklyn. In the 1956 World Series against Brooklyn he played only in Game 7, but his solo home run off Newcombe in the fourth inning was one of four Yankee HRs in the 9-0 victory. Howard’s pay jumped in 1956 from $6,000 to $10,000, he bought a house in St. Louis, and then heard from Stengel that he would be doing more catching. Norm Siebern went down, and Howard had to fill the gap in the outfield. He appeared in only 98 games, 26 at catcher, and finished the year with a so-so .262 batting average, 5 homers, and 34 RBIs. While he had started all seven World Series games in 1955, the team’s acquisition of Enos Slaughter kept Howard on the bench for the first six Series games in 1956. Nonetheless, Stengel started him in Game Seven, and Howard homered and doubled in the 9-0 Yankee win. Against the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series, his three-run homer off Warren Spahn with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 4 tied the score 4-4, though Milwaukee won 7-5 in the 10th inning.
As the 1958 season opened, hope for regular catching duties again flared. The Howards bought a house in Teaneck, New Jersey. Elston Howard was in left field again on Opening Day in Boston. Daughter Cheryl was born on May 9. At one point Howard’s batting average reached .350, but he would not have enough plate appearances to qualify for the title should his average hold up. In the 1958 World Series, Elston Howard’s impact did not become notable until Game 5, when he caught Red Schoendienst’s sinking fly ball in the sixth inning and made a throw to catch Bill Bruton off first base for a double play, preserving a 1-0 lead. In Game 6, he threw Andy Pafko out at the plate in the second inning, and singled and scored with two out in the tenth inning for a 4-2 Yankee lead; the run proved decisive, as the Braves came back to score once in the bottom of the frame. In Game 7, his two-out RBI single scored Berra for a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning, with New York going on to a 6-2 win, completing only the second comeback by a team from a 3-1 deficit in a Series. Elston Howard was later given the Babe Ruth Award, presented by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, as the top player in the Series, although the World Series MVP Award was won by teammate Bob Turley. The Howards bought a vacant lot in Teaneck on which to build a larger house. Mayor Matty Feldman begged them not to build in a white neighborhood. The Howards ignored him, and although they suffered graffiti and sabotage during building, they moved in toward the end of the 1963 season.
The first African American player on the Yankees roster, Elston Howard was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player for the 1963 pennant winners after finishing third in the league in slugging average and fifth in home runs, becoming the first black player in AL history to win the honor. He won Gold Glove Awards in 1963 and 1964, in the latter season setting AL records for putouts and total chances in a season. His lifetime fielding percentage of .993 was a major league record from 1967 to 1973, and he retired among the AL career leaders in putouts (7th, 6,447) and total chances (9th, 6,977).
The MVP Award meant off-season banquets and Howard gained ten pounds speaking on the dinner circuit. The award also brought commercial endorsements, and Elston, his wife, and family were featured in ads for oatmeal, mustard, and beer. Howard also became the first black man to ever model clothes for GQ magazine. His salary for 1964 jumped to $60,000, making him one of the best paid players in baseball.
In 1965, Elston injured his elbow during spring training. He played in four games through April, and then had surgery, missing five more weeks. On August 3, 1967, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Pete Magrini and Ron Klimkowski. Though he batted only .147 for Boston, he was effective in handling the pitchers; teammate Tony Conigliaro noted, “I don’t think I ever saw a pitcher shake off one of his signs. They had too much respect for him.” In 1967, Howard also took over Sherm Lollar’s major-league record for career fielding average. Elston Howard had his last postseason highlight in the 1967 World Series against the Cardinals when his bases-loaded single in the ninth inning of Game 5 drove in two runs for a 3-0 lead. The hit was crucial, as former teammate Maris homered in the bottom of the inning for the Cardinals before the Red Sox closed out the 3-1 win. St. Louis, however, won the Series in seven games. It was the sixth losing World Series team Elston Howard played on; he and Pee Wee Reese have the dubious distinction for playing on the most losing World Series teams.
On October 29, 1968, Howard was released by the Red Sox. Over his 14-year career, he batted .274 with 167 home runs, 1,471 hits, 762 RBI, 619 runs, 218 doubles, 50 triples and nine stolen bases in 1,605 games. His .427 slugging average trailed those of only Dickey (.486), Berra (.482) and Mickey Cochrane (.478) among AL catchers. His 54 total World Series games placed him behind only teammates Berra and Mantle. Howard is also credited with being the first to use the extended index and pinky finger (corna) to indicate that there were two out in the inning, this being more visible to teammates in the outfield than the usual “two” gesture of the index and middle fingers.
The next year he returned to the Yankees, where he served as first-base coach from 1969 to 1979 making him the first black coach in the American League. The team became World Series champions in 1977 and 1978 and AL champions in 1976. In 1977 during a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Howard and Yogi Berra were peacemakers during a dugout incident between Yankees player Reggie Jackson and Yankees manager Billy Martin.
While coaching, he took part in various side businesses, including a printing company; opening an art gallery with Arlene in Englewood, New Jersey, to sell Haitian and modern art; heading a division of Group Travel, for whom he was the star attraction on corporate tours and cruises; the Elston Howard Sausage Company concession stand at Yankee Stadium; and serving as vice chairman of the board of Home State Bank, an interracially owned bank that catered to the black community. Howard is also credited with inventing the batting “donut”, a circular lead weight with a rubber shell used by waiting batters in the on-deck circle by placing it around a bat to make it feel heavier, so that the bat will feel lighter at the plate and easier to swing. Its widespread use caused the discontinuation of the practice of hitters swinging multiple bats at the same time while waiting to hit. Howard helped two New Jersey entrepreneurs, Frank Hamilton and Vince Salvucci, to market the bat weight and lent his name to the product. George Steinbrenner, who bought the Yankees in 1973, would not make Howard a manager, but he did make occasional noises about wanting to move Elston from coaching to the front office. Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, he became the important counterbalance to the fiery Billy Martin in “The Bronx Zoo.” He coached through the 1978 season.
In mid-February 1979, after nearly collapsing at La Guardia airport, Elston Howard was diagnosed with myocarditis and could not participate in spring training. Steinbrenner told him not to worry and when he recovered, his coaching job would be waiting, and he stayed on the payroll. In February 1980, a year after his attack at the airport, Elston was appointed by Steinbrenner to join the front office staff. He would be an assistant to Steinbrenner, and his duties ranged from appearing at banquets to scouting talent in the Yankees minor league system. His health never recovered, though, and he was often too weak to travel. His heart was giving out, and on December 4, 1980, he was admitted to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Two weeks later, he died at age 51.
In Howard’s memory, the Yankees wore black armbands on their sleeve during the 1981 season. On July 21, 1984, the Yankees retired Howard’s uniform number 32 and dedicated a plaque in his honor for Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. On that day the Yankees also gave the same honors to Maris who, unlike Elston Howard, was still living. Howard’s plaque describes him as “A man of great gentleness and dignity” and “one of the truly great Yankees.”
To see stats and records, you can visit baseball reference’s site here.
24-year-old Ben Gamel is the younger brother of former Brewers top prospect Mat Gamel and made his Major League debut with the Yanks earlier this year in May. He’s logged just 10 plate appearances at the big league level (eight official at-bats), collecting one hit and one walk, but turned in a very solid season at the Triple-A level with the Yankees’ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate. In 533 plate appearances, Gamel batted .308/.365/.420 with six homers and 19 stolen bases while appearing at all three outfield positions.This week Gamel was named the International MVP but then he was traded right to the Mariners! The teams announced the trade, adding that the Mariners are sending right-handed pitchers Jio Orozco and Juan De Paula to the Yankees in return.
Prior to this trade, Gamel rated 24th among Yankees prospects in the eyes of Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. That duo praised Gamel’s line-drive, all-fields approach at the plate and rated both his hit tool and speed as above-average, noting that while he lacks the plus speed of some center fielders he makes up for some of that with terrific instincts and quick reads off the bat. Gamel hit a career-high 10 home runs but is more of a threat to rack up doubles and triples — a skill set that would seem to fit well in Seattle’s spacious home park. Gamel figures to, at worst, profile as a fourth outfield candidate for the Mariners but could play his way into a bigger role if he’s able to carry over the success he’s enjoyed in 245 career Triple-A games (.304/.361/.447).
We won’t see prospects like Clint Frazier or Jonathan Holder among the September call-ups is because “the Yankees anticipate a 40-man roster crunch this off-season.” What does that mean? It means they’re going to have more players that should be on the 40-man roster than actually can be on the 40-man roster. To prevent teams from just stockpiling talent in the minors at no consequence, the Rule 5 Draft was instituted, and this year the Yankees are going to be paying close attention.
Who is Rule 5 Draft eligible? Good question. Players who have played pro ball for 5 seasons (if they were signed at 18 or younger) or played 4 seasons (if they were signed 19 or older). Also, basically any draftees prior to 2013. Who else needs to be added to the 40-man roster? After the season ends the Yankees will have to make a decision on 60-day DLers like Greg Bird, Dustin Ackley, and Branden Pinder. If they want to reinstate those players to the 40-man roster, others have to go.
So, add that all up and you have way too many players for only 40 roster spots. Ben Gamel, even though very talented, was simply taking up valuable real estate and with the absurd outfield depth the Yankees have at this moment (Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford, Dustin Fowler, and Billy McKinney…to name 5), Ben Gamel was a long shot to contribute to the Yankees at the major league level.
Let’s just hope that Gamel doesn’t come back with a vengeance!
Philip Francis ” Phil Rizzuto “, aka “The Scooter,” was born on September 25, 1917 in Brooklyn, NY, the son of a street car motorman. In the past, there has been confusion about his year of birth, stemming from Rizzuto’s “shaving a year off” the date at the beginning of his pro career, on the advice of teammates. Throughout his career, his birth year was reported as 1918 in both The Sporting News Baseball Register and the American League Red Book. After Rizzuto’s death, the New York Post broke a story reporting Rizzuto’s actual year of birth as 1916. However, it was subsequently reported that the New York City Department of Health said Rizzuto’s official birth certificate is, in fact, dated 1917.
Phil Rizzuto spent his entire baseball career playing for the Yankees. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 1937 and played his first major league game on April 14, 1941. Rizzuto completed his rookie season in the World Series, and though he hit poorly, the Yankees beat the Dodgers. The following year, Rizzuto led all hitters, for both the Yankees and the opposing St. Louis Cardinals, with 8 hits and a .381 average in the 1942 World Series. His career was interrupted by a stint in the United States Navy during World War II. From 1943 through 1945, he played on a Navy baseball team alongside Dodgers shortstop Reese; the team was managed by Yankees catcher Bill Dickey.
In 1950, his MVP season, he hit .324 with 200 hits and 92 walks, and scored 125 runs. While leading the league in fielding percentage, Rizzuto handled 238 consecutive chances without an error, setting the single-season record for shortstops. He played 58 games at shortstop without an error from September 1949 through June 1950, breaking the AL record of 46 set by Eddie Joost in 1947-48. The record stood until Ed Brinkman played error-free for 72 games in 1972. Rizzuto recorded 123 double plays in 1950, three more than Crosetti’s total from 1938; it remains the Yankee record. His 1950 fielding percentage of .9817 led the league, and came within less than a point of Lou Boudreau’s league record of .9824, set in 1947. Rizzuto’s mark was a franchise record until 1976, when Yankees shortstop Fred Stanley posted a mark of .983.
Phil Rizzuto was voted MVP of the American League in 1950 and was the only MVP in history who led the league in sacrifice bunts. Rizzuto played in five All-Star Games, in 1942 and each year from 1950 to 1953. In 1950, he also won the Hickok Belt, which was awarded to the top professional athlete of the year, and was named Major League Player of the Year by The Sporting News. He was even voted top major league shortstop by The Sporting News for four consecutive years (1949–52). Rizzuto batted .320 in the 1951 World Series, for which the New York chapter of the BBWAA later voted him the Babe Ruth Award as the Series’ top player.
Ty Cobb named Rizzuto and Stan Musial as “two of the few modern ball players who could hold their own among old timers.” Yankees manager Casey Stengel had famously dismissed Rizzuto during that Brooklyn Dodgers tryout in 1935 when Stengel was managing that team, advising him to “go get a shoeshine box.” But Stengel ended up managing Rizzuto during five consecutive championship seasons, and would later say, “He is the greatest shortstop I have ever seen in my entire baseball career, and I have watched some beauties.” During his heyday, Yankees pitcher Vic Raschi noted, “My best pitch is anything the batter grounds, lines or pops in the direction of Rizzuto.” Decades into his retirement, teammate Joe DiMaggio characterized Rizzuto’s enduring appeal to fans: “People loved watching me play baseball. Scooter, they just loved.”
Rizzuto was released by the Yankees on August 25, 1956. Rizzuto often talked about the unusual circumstances of his release. Late in the 1956 season, the Yankees re-acquired Enos Slaughter, who had been with the team in 1954–55, and asked Rizzuto to meet with the front office to discuss adjustments to the upcoming postseason roster. They then asked Rizzuto to look over the list of Yankee players and suggest which ones might be cut to make room for Slaughter. For each name Rizzuto mentioned, a reason was given as to why that player needed to be kept. Finally, Rizzuto realized that the expendable name was his own. He called former teammate George Stirnweiss, who told him to refrain from “blasting” the Yankees because it might cost him a non-playing job later. Rizzuto said many times that following Stirnweiss’ advice was probably the best move he ever made.
After his retirement, he continued his legacy with the Bronx Bombers announcing countless games for 40 years with his sincere (and sometimes kooky) remarks. His idiosyncratic style and unpredictable digressions charmed listeners, while his lively play-by-play brought a distinct energy to his broadcasts. He was well known for his trademark expression, “Holy Cow!” Rizzuto also became known for saying “Unbelievable!” or “Did you see that?” to describe a great play, and would call somebody a “huckleberry” if he did something Rizzuto did not like. He would frequently wish listeners a happy birthday or anniversary, send get-well wishes to fans in hospitals, and speak well of restaurants he liked, or of the cannoli he ate between innings. He also joked about leaving the game early, saying to his wife, “I’ll be home soon, Cora!” and “I gotta get over that bridge”, referring to the nearby George Washington Bridge, which he would use to get back to his home in Hillside. In later years, Rizzuto would announce the first six innings of Yankee games; the TV director would sometimes puckishly show a shot of the bridge (which can be seen from the top of Yankee Stadium) after Rizzuto had departed. Rizzuto was also very phobic about lightning, and sometimes left the booth following violent thunderclaps. In retirement, he often tutored players on the bunt during spring training. In the announcing booth, Rizzuto talked about the several different kinds of bunts he would use in different situations. Later during his broadcasting career, he occasionally expressed disappointment that the art of bunting had largely been lost in baseball.
Not all of Rizzuto’s broadcasting experiences were jovial. On the evening of the funeral of former teammate Mickey Mantle (August 15, 1995 in Dallas, Texas), the Yankees were set to play a road game against the Boston Red Sox. Rizzuto understandably assumed that he would be allowed to miss the game to attend the funeral with former teammates, but was scheduled to call the game. WPIX and/or the Yankees refused to let him go, citing that “someone needed to do the color commentary.” Rizzuto eventually gave into emotion and abruptly left the booth in the middle of the telecast saying he could not go on. Rizzuto announced his retirement from announcing soon afterwards, which many attributed to the incident.He was eventually persuaded to return for one more season in 1996 where he called another Yankee shortstop protégé, Derek Jeter’s first home run. When he retired that season, he had spent parts of seven decades—virtually all of his adult life—in the Yankee organization as a minor league player, major league player and broadcaster. Although Mel Allen is to this day identified as “The Voice of the Yankees”, Rizzuto was the longest serving broadcaster in the history of the club; he called Yankees games for 40 years to Allen’s 35.
Rizzuto married Cora Anne Ellenborn on June 23, 1943; the two first met the previous year when Rizzuto substituted for Joe DiMaggio as a speaker at a Newark communion breakfast. “I fell in love so hard I didn’t go home”, Rizzuto recalled. He rented a nearby hotel room for a month to be near her. The Rizzutos moved to Hillside, New Jersey, in 1950, to a home on Windsor Way. With later financial successes, they moved to a Tudor home on Westminster Avenue, where they lived for many years.
During his playing days, Rizzuto (along with several other big leaguers) would work in the off season at the American Shops off U.S. Route 22 near Bayonne, New Jersey. At a charity event in 1951, Rizzuto met a young blind boy named Ed Lucas, who had lost his sight when he was struck by a baseball between the eyes on the same day as Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” Rizzuto took an interest in the boy and his school, St. Joseph’s School for the Blind. Until his death, Rizzuto raised millions for St. Joseph’s by donating profits from his commercials and books, and also by hosting the Annual Phil Rizzuto Celebrity Golf Classic and “Scooter” Awards. Rizzuto and Lucas remained friendly, and it was through the Yankee broadcaster’s influence that Lucas’s 2006 wedding was the only one ever conducted at Yankee Stadium. Lucas was one of Rizzuto’s last visitors at his nursing home, days before his death.
The Yankees retired Phil Rizzuto’s number 10 in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium on August 4, 1985. During this ceremony, he was also given a plaque to be placed in the stadium’s Monument Park. The plaque makes reference to the fact that he “has enjoyed two outstanding careers, all-time Yankee shortstop, one of the great Yankee broadcasters.” Humorously, Rizzuto was accidentally bumped to the ground during his own ceremony, by a live cow wearing a halo (that is, a “holy cow”); both honoree and cow were unhurt. Phil Rizzuto later described the encounter: “That big thing stepped right on my shoe and pushed me backwards, like a karate move.” He was later elected to the Hall of Fame in 1994 by the Veterans Committee, following a long campaign for Rizzuto’s election by Yankee fans who were frustrated that he had not received the honor. Rizzuto himself was more modest: “My stats don’t shout. They kind of whisper.” The push for Phil Rizzuto became especially acute after 1984, when the committee elected Pee Wee Reese, the similarly-regarded shortstop of the crosstown Brooklyn Dodgers.
Phil Rizzuto died in his sleep on August 13, 2007, three days short of the 51st anniversary of his last game as a Yankee, and one month shy of his 90th birthday. He had been in declining health for several years and was living at a nursing home in West Orange, New Jersey for the last months of his life. At the time of his death, at age 89, Rizzuto was the oldest living member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Introducing our newest product, a Yankees facade inspired chalkboard! It’s back to school season, but that doesn’t mean you have to forget the Yankees! This new one of a kind product is the perfect addition to any home. Whether you need to leave reminders in the kitchen, a homework chart in the bedroom- or even to keep a scoreboard next to the TV for those Bronx Bombers! With endless possibilities, product will not disappoint.
Painted in dark blue, this board includes the iconic facade panels across the top. Facade detailing is made with painted MDF (Medium-density fiberboard.) This product features a grooved lip at the base to hold chalk. Chalk and hardware included.
With all of the records in Major League Baseball, it can be hard to loose track of who makes them and who breaks them. Although there seems to be a record for just about everything, here is a list of hitting records that may just be unbreakable.
Most career hits – 4,256 Set by Pete Rose, who played from 1963–86. The active MLB leader in career hits is Alex Rodriguez, who had 3,084 as of May 4, 2016. To get within 6 hits of tying Rose, a player would have to collect 250 hits over 17 consecutive seasons, or more than 200 hits over the course of 21 seasons. In the past 81 years, only Ichiro Suzuki has topped 250 hits in a season (in 2004). As of July 29, 2016, Ichiro has 2,998 MLB hits and 1,278 hits in the Japanese major leagues for a combined, unofficial total of 4,257, one more than Rose’s record; however, Ichiro’s hits from Japan’s major leagues are not counted toward his MLB total. At the same time, Miguel Cabrera has 2,331 hits after 13 seasons and would have to average 193 hits over 10 additional seasons to break the record.
Most consecutive seasons with 200 hits – 10 Set by Ichiro Suzuki, who attained this record from 2001–10. The player who was the closest to obtaining this record is Willie Keeler, who had 8 consecutive seasons with 200 hits that occurred almost a century prior in the dead-ball era. Only José Altuve, with two consecutive 200-hit seasons, entered the 2016 season with a current streak of even two such seasons.
Most career triples – 309 Set by Sam Crawford from 1899–1916. The next closest player is Ty Cobb, who has 14 fewer triples at 295. Because of changes in playing styles and conditions that began around 1920 and have continued into the present from the dead-ball era to the live-ball era, the number of triples hit has declined noticeably since then. Among hitters whose entire careers were in the live-ball era, the leader in career triples is Stan Musial, with 177. For a player to threaten Crawford’s record, he would have to average 15 triples over 20 seasons just to get to 300. Between 2000 and 2009 the Major League leader in triples finished each year with an average of 17. The closest active player is Carl Crawford, with 122 career triples.
Most triples in a season – 36 Set by Chief Wilson in 1912. Only two other players have ever had 30 triples in a season (Dave Orr with 31 in 1886 and Heinie Reitz with 31 in 1894), while the closest anyone has come in the century since Wilson set the record is 26, shared by Sam Crawford (1914) and Kiki Cuyler (1925). Only six hitters have had 20 triples in the last 50 years: George Brett (20 in 1979), Willie Wilson (21 in 1985), Lance Johnson (21 in 1996), Cristian Guzmán (20 in 2000), Curtis Granderson (23 in 2007) and Jimmy Rollins (20 in 2007).
Most grand slams in a single inning – 2 Set by Fernando Tatís in 1999. Only twelve other players have ever hit two grand slams in a single game. However, breaking the record would require a player to hit three grand slams in a single inning. Over 50 players have hit two home runs in a single inning, but no MLB player has so much as hit three home runs in one inning. However, one minor league player, Gene Rye, has achieved the feat of hitting three home runs in a single inning.
Highest career batting average – .366 Set by Ty Cobb in 1928 after beginning his career in 1905. Cobb managed to hit .323 in his final season at age 41. The next closest player is Rogers Hornsby who had a batting average of .358; Hornsby’s career straddled the dead-ball and live-ball eras, with most of it being in the live-ball era. There are only 3 players with a career average over .350, and the highest batting average among those who played their entire careers in the live-ball era is Ted Williams’ .344. Since 1928, there have been only 46 seasons in which a hitter reached .366 and only Tony Gwynn attained that mark at least four times, finishing with a career .338 batting average.The active player with the highest batting average is Miguel Cabrera at .321.
Most RBI in a single season – 191 Set by Hack Wilson, who batted in 191 runs in 1930. Only Hank Greenberg and Lou Gehrig, at 183 and 184, ever came close and there have been no real challenges to the unbreakable record for over 75 years.
Highest career on-base percentage – .482 Set by Ted Williams from 1939 to 1960. Williams, the last man to hit .400 in a MLB season (.406 in 1941), won six American League batting titles, two Triple Crowns, and two MVP awards. He ended his career with 521 home runs and a .344 career batting average. Williams achieved these numbers and honors despite missing nearly five full seasons to military service and injuries. The next-closest player in career OBP is Babe Ruth at .474. Since Williams’ retirement, only four players have posted an OBP above .482 in a season, with Barry Bonds the only one to do so more than once. Bonds ended his career with an OBP of .444; the leader among active players is Joey Votto, at .423.
Longest hitting streak – 56 games Set by Joe DiMaggio, 1941. Probably the most unbreakable record of them all. Highlights include a .404 batting average and 91 hits. DiMaggio’s achievement is such a statistical aberration in its unlikelihood that sabermetrician Stephen Jay Gould called it “the most extraordinary thing that ever happened in American sports”. The next closest player is Willie Keeler, who had a hitting streak of 11 fewer games at 45 over 2 seasons. There have been only six 40-game hitting streaks, the most recent one occurring in 1978, when Pete Rose hit in 44 straight games. This also marked the only time since 1941 that a player has reached a 40-game hitting streak. Since 1900, no player other than DiMaggio has ever hit safely in 55 of 56 games and no active players (as of 2011) have their two longest career hit streaks even add up to 56 games. The improbability of DiMaggio’s hit streak ever being broken has been attributed to the increased use of the bullpen and specialist relievers. After his 56th game, DiMaggio was walked in the next game and then went another 16 games with a hit.
To read more about these hitting records, you can go here.
Throughout the history of Major League Baseball, pitchers have been known to set records, many of which seem impossible to even come close to breaking with today’s standard procedures. From Nolan Ryan to Cy Young, a list has been compiled of pitching records that may never be broken in the future of MLB.
Most career wins – 511 Set by Cy Young in 1890–1911. For a player to accomplish this, he would have to average 25 wins in 20 seasons just to get to 500. In the past 38 years, only 3 pitchers (Ron Guidry in 1978, Bob Welch in 1990, and Steve Stone in 1980) have had one season with 25 wins. Between 2000 and 2009, the Major League leader finished each year with an average of 21. The pitcher with the most career wins during the 2015 season (222 wins), Tim Hudson, retired, making 43-year-old Bartolo Colón the active leader entering the 2016 season, with 218 wins.
Most wins in a season – 59 Set by Old Hoss Radbourn, in 1884. Most pitchers in today’s game start 30–35 games per season, and thus do not start enough games to break the record. The most games started by a pitcher in the 2014 season was 34, accomplished by six pitchers. This means that even if a pitcher were to win every game started in this scenario, he would still fall 25 wins short of tying Radbourn’s record. The last pitcher to win 30 games in a season was Denny McLain in 1968 and the last pitcher to win 25 games in a season was Bob Welch in 1990.
Most career complete games – 749 Set by Cy Young, 1890–1911. Highlights of this record include: nine 40-complete-game seasons, eighteen 30-complete-game seasons and completing 92 percent of his total career starts (815). For a player to accomplish this, he would have to average 30 complete games over 25 seasons to get to 750.
The closest active player is the 36-year-old CC Sabathia with 38 complete games.
Most complete games in a season – 75 The all-time record of 75 was set by Will White in 1879; the modern-era record of 48 was set by Jack Chesbro in 1904. Sports Illustrated has said about this record, “Even if the bar is lowered to begin with the Live Ball era (which began in 1920), the mark would still be untouchable.” The most complete games recorded in a live-ball season is 33, achieved twice at the dawn of that era—by Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1920 and Burleigh Grimes in 1923. According to Sports Illustrated, modern starters can expect to start about 34 games in a season.
Most career shutouts – 110 Set by Walter Johnson, 1907–27. He had eleven 6-shutout seasons and lead the league in shutouts 7 times.The next closest player is Grover Cleveland Alexander, who has 20 fewer shutouts at 90. As is the case for career wins and complete games, Warren Spahn holds the record among pitchers whose entire careers were in the live-ball era, with 63. For a player to tie Johnson’s record, he would have to pitch 5 shutouts every season for 22 years. Between 2000 and 2009 the Major League leader in shutouts finished each year with an average of 4. The closest active player is Colón with 13.
Most consecutive no-hitters – 2 Set by Johnny Vander Meer on June 11 and 15, 1938. Despite holding this record, he finished his career with a 119–121 win–loss record. The prospect of a pitcher breaking this record by hurling three consecutive no-hitters is so unimaginable that LIFE described this as “the most unbreakable of all baseball records.” Ewell Blackwell came the closest to matching Vander Meer after following up a no-hitter with eight no-hit innings in 1947. In 1988, Dave Stieb of the Toronto Blue Jays had consecutive no-hitters going with two outs in the ninth; both were broken up by singles. Between 2000 and 2009, 20 no-hitters were pitched, and the closest anyone came in the 21st century is Max Scherzer, who in 2015 threw a one-hitter and no-hitter in consecutive starts, respectively losing out on perfect games in the seventh inning and on the 27th batter.
Most career no-hitters – 7 Set by Nolan Ryan, 1966–93. Sandy Koufax is second with 4 no-hitters. Between 2000 and 2009 there were 20 no-hitters and no other pitcher has tossed more than three no hitters. Only 32 pitchers have thrown 2 or more no-hitters, and of the 18 active pitchers that have thrown a no-hitter, only six have pitched more than one.
Most career strikeouts – 5,714 Set by Nolan Ryan, 1966–93. Highlights include: six 300-strikeout seasons, fifteen 200-strikeout seasons, and leading the league in strikeouts 11 times. To accomplish this record, Ryan played the most seasons (27) in MLB history. The closest active player is Sabathia, with 2,574 strikeouts.
Most career bases on balls – 2,795 Set by Nolan Ryan, 1966–93. Ryan ended up with 50 percent more bases on balls than any other pitcher in history. The next closest is Steve Carlton with 1,833. The only active player with as many as 1,000 is A. J. Burnett, with 1,100 bases on balls at the end of the 2015 season.
Most career saves – 652 Set by Mariano Rivera, 1995–2013. Highlights include 15 consecutive seasons with 25 or more saves, 9 consecutive seasons with 30 or more saves and 15 seasons with 30 or more saves (all three are records). After Trevor Hoffman, who retired with 601 career saves, the next-closest pitcher in saves is Lee Smith, with 478. For a player to reach Rivera’s record, he would have to earn an average of 35 saves for 17 consecutive seasons just to get to 595 saves or 40 saves for 16 consecutive years to reach 640. As of the end of the 2015 season, the closest active player is 34-year-old Francisco Rodríguez, who has 386 saves and is 266 saves behind.
To read more about pitching records, you can go here. Stay tuned for next week’s article on Unbreakable Hitting Records!
Don “Donny Baseball” Mattingly, born on April 20, 1961, first began playing baseball with the Yankees in 1982 and spent his 14 year career playing first base with the Bronx Bombers. Growing up in Evansville, Indiana, Mattingly was picked by the Yankees in an amateur draft. Throughout his career, Don Mattingly was named to the American League All-Star team six times. He has been recognized for many awards including nine Gold Glove Awards, three Silver Slugger Awards, MVP of the Atlantic League in 1985, and won the AL batting title in 1984. From 1991 to 1995 Mattingly was also team captain.
Though he was considered to be left handed during his baseball career, Mattingly is actually ambidextrous. He started playing baseball at a young age and was a member of the 1973 Great Scot Little League championship team. During high school, he played for the Tigers and led the school to a record 59 victories. They won the state championship in 1978 and in 1979, Don Mattingly received the L.V. Phillips Mental Attitude award. After high school, Mattingly accepted a scholarship to play for Indiana State. Though his father warned MLB that his son was going to go to college and not sign a professional contract, he signed with the Yankees receiving a $23,000 bonus.
Mattingly spent his rookie season of 1983 as a part-time first baseman and outfielder hitting .283 in 279 at-bats. He hit his first home run on June 24, 1983 against John Tudor of the Red Sox. Mattingly became the Yankees’ full-time first baseman in 1984 after Steve Balboni was traded to the Kansas City Royals. Heading into the final game of the season, Mattingly and teammate Dave Winfield were competing for the American League batting title, with Mattingly trailing Winfield by .002. Mattingly won the batting title with a .343 average and also led the league with 207 hits. .
In 1985, Mattingly won the MVP award in the American League. He batted .324 with 35 home runs, 48 doubles, and 145 RBIs. This was the most RBIs in a season by a left-handed major league batter since Ted Williams, who drove in 159 in 1949. Mattingly led the league with 15 sacrifice flies, 370 total bases, and 86 extra base hits. Overall, Don Mattingly was 2nd in the AL in hits and slugging percentage, 3rd in intentional walks and at bats per strikeout, 6th in runs, and 9th in at bats per home run. 1985 may just have been one of Donny Baseball’s best seasons in the Major League though he was also recognized in 1985 for his defense, winning his first of nine Gold Glove Awards. He was considered such an asset defensively that Yankees management assigned him to play games at second base and third base early in his career, even though he was a left-handed thrower. Mattingly appeared as a left-handed throwing second baseman for one-third of one inning, during the resumption of the “Pine Tar Incident” game in 1983. He also played three games as a left-handed throwing third baseman during a five-game series against the Seattle Mariners in 1986.
Don Mattingly did just as well in 1986, leading the league with 238 hits, 53 doubles, and breaking the single-season franchise records set by Earle Combs and Lou Gehrig. He also recorded 388 total bases and a .573 slugging percentage. He batted .352, hit 31 home runs, and drove in 113 runs. In 1987, Mattingly tied Dale Long’s major league record by hitting home runs in eight consecutive games, from July 8–18. Mattingly also set a record by recording an extra base hit in ten consecutive games. Mattingly had a record 10 home runs during this streak. Also that season, Mattingly set a major league record by hitting six grand slams in a season. Mattingly’s grand slams in 1987 were also the only six grand slams of his career.
In June 1987, it was reported that Mattingly injured his back during some clubhouse horseplay with pitcher Bob Shirley though both denied this. Nevertheless, he finished with a .327 batting average, 30 home runs, and 115 RBIs, his fourth straight year with at least 110 RBIs. Between 1985 and 1987, Mattingly hit 96 home runs with just 114 strikeouts. He was still in the top 10 in the league in batting average at a .311 clip. He rebounded in 1989 to 113 RBIs, but his average dipped to .303. Mattingly’s five runs scored on April 30, 1988, marked the 12th time it has been done by a Yankee. Mattingly’s back problems flared up in 1990; after struggling with the bat, he had to go on the disabled list only to return late in the season for an ineffective finish. Mattingly underwent extensive therapy in the off season, but his hitting ability was never quite the same. Though he averaged .290 over his final five seasons, he became more of a slap hitter, hitting just 53 home runs over that time frame. Mattingly’s defense remained stellar, but he was not always physically able to play.
In 1995, Mattingly finally reached the playoffs when the Yankees won the AL wild card on the next-to-last day of the season. In the only postseason series of his career, facing the Seattle Mariners, Mattingly batted .417 with six RBIs and a memorable go-ahead home run in Game Two, his final game at Yankee Stadium. In the final game of the series (and of his career), Mattingly again broke a tie with a two-run double. The New York bullpen faltered and Seattle won in the 11th inning of the decisive Game Five.
Unsigned for the 1996 season, Don Mattingly decided to sit out for the year, and rebuffed an inquiry by the Baltimore Orioles, who tried to sign him at midseason. Mattingly officially announced his retirement in January 1997. Mattingly never appeared on the World Series, and his tenure with the Yankees marks the team’s largest drought without a World Series appearance. Interestingly, the Yankees made the Series both the year prior to Mattingly’s rookie year, 1981, and the year after his last with the club, 1996. After retiring, Don Mattingly returned to the Yanks as a coach in 2004 for Joe Torre. When Torre left for the Dodgers in 2008, so did Mattingly. Once 2011 came, Mattingly became manager of the Dodgers until 2015 when he ended his time with the Dodgers for the Miami Marlins. Don Mattingly is still managing the Marlins today.
Introducing our newest product, a Yankees facade inspired coat rack. This piece also includes a shelf for extra storage. It is a surefire hit for any Yankees fan!
This rack features three double hooks. The facade detail is made from MDF (Medium-density fiberboard), precision laser cut to replicate the design and feel of the traditional stadium facade.
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At this point, Baseball season is in full swing and with so much going on, it can be easy to loose track of important scores and stats. But, have no fear, because there is an app for that! The following is a list of the very best baseball apps to help you keep track of your favorite teams (Go Yankees!).
- MLB.com At Bat is the official app of the Major Leagues and lets you watch games live, see all sorts of stats and player info, and even stay up to date on breaking news. While there are some options for in-app purchases, you are still able to see scores and standings for your favorite team at no cost.
- WatchESPN allows you to stream live games as well as check out replays and stats. WatchESPN brings you 24/7 live programming from your favorite ESPN networks!
- The MLB at the Ballpark application perfectly complements and personalizes your trip with mobile check-in, social media, offers, rewards and exclusive content. Select MLB ballparks also offer mobile food ordering and merchandise ordering and seat and experience upgrade components. Now you won’t have to miss a single minute of the game!
- The CBS Sports Fantasy app is perfect for those fans who manage their own fantasy baseball teams. This app allows you to check stats and projections for the season. It also keeps you up to date on all of the players and team draft picks. Other features include live scoring, league talk, and personalized content!
- GameChanger provides free score keeping tools, advanced stats, and live updates for baseball and softball teams. It’s like having your own personal score card right in your phone!
A special thanks to Men’s Fitness for providing this list. To read more or to explore other topics, you can visit them here.
Alfred Manuel ” Billy ” Martin was born to parents Alfred Manuel Pesano, Sr. and Joan Salvini “Jenny” Pesano in Berkeley, California in 1928. Eight short months later, Martin’s father abandoned the family, leaving Jenny to raise her son on her own. Eventually, Jenny changed Billy’s last name to “Martin” because she did not want him to know he shared a name with Alfred Pesano. He began being called “Billy” after his grandmother started calling him “Bello” which is Italian for “beautiful.” In fact, such care had been taken to hide Martin’s birth name from him that he didn’t find out until entering junior high school.
Before Martin played for the Yankees, he was signed to the Oaks and played from 1948 to 1949, managed by Casey Stengel. When Stengel became the manager of the Yankees in 1949, he had the team obtain Martin. Billy Martin played for the New York Yankees from 1950 to 1957 as second baseman. During this time, the Yankees were a part of 5 world series wins. In the 1953 season, Martin had career highs in home runs (15), RBIs (75), doubles (24), triples (6), and times hit by pitch (6). He was the most valuable player of the 1953 World Series, as he batted .500 with a .958 slugging percentage and delivered with an RBI in Game 6 to clinch the series. Martin was an All-Star in 1956. In 1958, Martin led the league in sacrifice hits, with 13. Even though Martin was an excellent player, he got himself involved in many altercations. It is because of these altercations that Martin was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in 1957.
Later in his career, Martin managed the Yankees at five different times. The first time around, Billy Martin managed the Yankees from 1975 to 1978. With Martin at the helm, the Yankees went 30-26 in their final 56 games of the 1975 season; he then managed them to the World Series in 1976 (their first pennant since 1964) and 1977, winning in 1977. Though he took the Yankees to the World Series, Steinbrenner replaced Billy Martin with Bob Lemon. Soon afterward, at the annual Old-Timers’ Game at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees had public address announcer Bob Sheppard introduce an unemployed Martin as the Yankees’ next manager for the 1980 season. Steinbrenner and Martin had seemed to have patched up their differences, though it was short lived.
Steinbrenner fired Lemon and brought back Billy Martin earlier than previously planned. The Yankees failed to improve, however, and their streak of American League East division titles ended at three. After the 1979 season, Martin got into a fight with marshmallow salesman Joseph Cooper at a hotel in Minneapolis. Martin reportedly egged Cooper on, offering a $500 bet and later sucker punched Cooper when he agreed. Steinbrenner fired him after that and replaced him with Dick Howser for the 1980 season.
Martin returned to the New York Yankees in 1983, 1985, and 1988, but never for more than one full season. Each time, while his teams managed to make good accounts of themselves on the field, he was fired due to his behavior on and off the field. During the 1983 season, Martin was involved in one of the most controversial incidents, known as the Pine Tar Incident, where umpires nullified a go-ahead home run by Yankee nemesis, Kansas City Royals third baseman George Brett, when Martin protested that there was too much pine tar on his bat. Ultimately, American League President Lee MacPhail ruled in favor of the Royals’ protest, reinstating the home run, and replaying the game from the point of the nullification. At the start of the replayed game, Martin tried to protest on the grounds that Brett had missed a base. The umpires working this game, however, had anticipated this, and had obtained an affidavit from the crew who had worked the original game saying that Brett had indeed touched all the bases. On September 22, 1985, while at a hotel bar in Baltimore, Maryland, Martin fought one of his pitchers, Ed Whitson. Billy Martin suffered a broken arm, bruises, and cuts, while Whitson had a broken rib and a split lip. He was fired after the 1985 season.
Martin was married four times and had two children, a daughter named Kelly Ann and a son named Billy Joe. His first marriage was to Lois Berndt, by whom he had his daughter. The two divorced in 1955, and then he married Gretchen Winkler in 1961, by whom he had his son, and stayed married to her until 1979, when they divorced. He was married a third time, to Heather Ervolino, while he was managing in Oakland, but was never faithful to wife and eventually married a woman named Jillian Guiver, in January 1988.
On August 10, 1986, the Yankees retired Billy Martin’s uniform number 1 and dedicated a plaque in his honor for Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. The plaque contains the words, There has never been a greater competitor than Billy. Martin told the crowd, “I may not have been the greatest Yankee to put on the uniform, but I am the proudest.”
Unfortunately, Billy Martin was killed in a low speed, single vehicle collision during an ice storm at the end of the driveway to his farm in Port Crane, north of Binghamton, New York, on Christmas Day 1989. He was pronounced dead at a hospital in Johnson City, New York, where efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. At the time of his death, Martin was preparing to manage the Yankees a sixth time for the 1990 season, to the point of having assembled a coaching staff.
George Steinbrenner wasn’t called “The Boss” because of his charming personality. The man knew what had to be done and made it happen no matter the repercussions. If he was still around today, he would definitely have some opinions on the Yankees and probably fire a few people. If The Boss were still in control of the sinking Yankees, here are ten moves he would most likely make.
- Firing Joe Girardi. Despite Girardi’s World Series rings with the Yankees, both as a catcher and as a skipper, Steinbrenner would not go for Girardi’s constant defending of players, especially when they don’t deserve it.
- Hiring Bobby Valentine. Yes, this sounds absolutely insane but, The Boss would want to light a fire under his highly paid players. The Yankees’ clubhouse is filled with a lot of nice guys, but, as was the case in Boston, Bobby Valentine, a brilliant baseball mind, would probably rub some of them the wrong way. The Boss would like that.
- Hiring Seat Fillers. The daily eyesore that are the seats behind home plate at Yankee Stadium would drive The Boss nuts. What would he do? He would borrow a page from the TV award shows and hire seat-fillers for the Legends seats. Despite how sad it is that one of the world’s greatest stadiums would have to resort to Hollywood shenanigans, it would look better and be a tangible response to what has become a source of mockery.
- Firing Bobby Valentine. When Steinbrenner was around, there was only one man who could be the center of attention. Valentine creates fires wherever he goes, so Steinbrenner would have to get rid of him.
- Hiring Wally Backman. One of the Boss’ trademark moves was attempting to steal the glory from the Mets — like adding Darryl Strawberry to the Yankees’ roster late in his career. The Mets right now have all the ingredients — mostly young stud pitching — to own this town if they don’t mess it up. While swiping their ex-manager, Valentine, might annoy some Mets fans, many would be envious if Backman — a beloved member of the 1986 Mets title team currently celebrating its 30th anniversary — were put in charge in the Bronx.
- Rip Jacoby Ellsbury in the Media. Ellsbury’s $153 million contract already looks like it could end up being one of the worst in franchise history. If The Boss were around, Ellsbury would not have such a cushy experience cashing his $21 million check each season.
- Fire Wally Backman. Like it is with Girardi and would be with Valentine, it’s the players. The Yankees are suffering through the hangover of the final years of long-term, big-money contracts. Still, Backman would take the fall.
- Make A-Rod Player-Manager. The whole Alex Rodriguez-Biogenesis saga was one of the craziest stories in sports history. How much more fun would it have been if the Boss were around to go toe-to-toe with A-Rod and his enablers? Well, with it all blown over and the Yankees struggling, the Boss would fire Backman and make A-Rod the manager. With A-Rod as manager, the Yankees might not be any better, but they would again become one of the most interesting teams in the game.
- Put Brian Cashman on Notice. General manager Brian Cashman has said he doesn’t decorate his Yankee Stadium office because The Boss told him to never feel comfortable. Steinbrenner, in good times, always had a connection with the fans, because he was as demanding as any Bleacher Creature. Though Cashman outlasted Steinbrenner, the GM did so because it was during a dynastic run. Cashman would have a hard time keeping his job if Steinbrenner were in his prime.
- Go After John Oliver. Steinbrenner would have aggressively responded to HBO talk-show host John Oliver and his Yankee Stadium stunt, perhaps calling him some sort of reptile,as The Boss was known to do.
You can read about Steinbrenner and much more here at ESPN.
Bernabé Williams Figueroa Jr., or as many may know him as Bernie Williams, was born on September 13, 1968 to Bernabé Williams Figueroa Sr., a merchant marine and dispatcher, and Rufina Williams, a retired principal and college professor. Williams not only fell in love with Baseball but also music during his youth. His father brought home a flamenco guitar upon his return from service and introduced Williams to a world of music. He attended a special school for performing arts at thirteen years old and also became known as one of the most noted athletes in Puerto Rico. So much that Roberto Rivera, a scout for the New York Yankees, discovered Williams who was just a few months shy of his 17th birthday. The Yankees put Williams in a training camp in Connecticut and officially signed Williams on the day he turned 17.
While playing in the minor leagues, Williams took a course on biology at the University of Puerto Rico, and considered undertaking a pre-medical track as an undergraduate student. Deciding that he could not excel at baseball and medicine at the same time, Williams decided to focus on baseball. Although viewed as a great prospect by Yankee management, his rise to the Majors was delayed by the solid outfield that the team had developed in the early 1990s. But by 1993, Williams had become the regular Yankees center fielder after replacing injured player Danny Tartabull. George Steinbrenner considered trading Williams many times but ultimately the trades never happened. After the 1998 season, Bernie Williams signed a seven-year, $87.5-million contract with the Yankees, one of the largest in baseball at the time.
In 2005, the last year of his contract, Williams started 99 games in center field and 22 games as a designated hitter. His arm became noticeably weakened as many believe this to be his worst season. The Yankees began negotiations for a buyout but Williams was offered arbitration by general manager Brian Cashman, allowing another month for negotiation. By December 22, 2005, the Yankees re-signed Williams to a one year, $1.5 million contract. The 2006 season proved to be better for Williams as he spent a decent amount of time playing in the outfield covering for both Matsui and Sheffield, each out with wrist injuries. He also covered center field for Johnny Damon when he was given time off to rest. Bernie Williams played for Puerto Rico as well, representing the island possession in a team managed by the St. Louis Cardinals. During the same season, Williams hit his 2,300 career hit, making him the 11th active player in the Majors.
He had hoped to return to the Yankees in 2007 and was willing to accept a role as a back-up outfielder and pinch hitter. The Yankees offered Williams an invitation to spring training as a non-roster invitee but Williams wanted a guaranteed roster spot and declined the invitation. On September 21, 2008, Williams made his first return to Yankee Stadium since 2006 for the ceremonies preceding the final game at the stadium. He was the last former player to be introduced and received a standing ovation that lasted 1 minute and 42 seconds. At the February 2011 retirement press conference for Andy Pettitte, Williams acknowledged that his career was over and stated that he would officially announce his retirement soon thereafter. On April 22, 2015, it was announced that Williams would officially retire on April 24, 2015, with the Yankees.
Williams played for the Yankees for 16 years as a center fielder. He is a four-time World Series Champion and a five-time All Star. Williams has more post-season RBI’s to his credit than any other player in Major-league history and his resume also boasts four gold-glove awards, six American League pennants, the 1996 ALCS MVP award, and the 1998 American League batting title. Bernie is also among the Yankees all-time leaders in every major batting category, with his performance statistics often standing alongside such legends as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.
Aside from his Baseball career, Williams kept in touch with his musicality and released his first album in 2003 titled “The Journey Within.” It features not only the sounds of jazz, but also rock as well as the tropical rhythms of his past. This record reached number three on Billboards “Contemporary Jazz Chart.” Not long after the success of his first album, Bernie Williams released his second album “Moving Forward.” This album featured many noteworthy musicians including Bruce Springsteen, Jon Secada, and Dave Koz. This record contained two number one singles, “Go For It,” and “Ritmo de Otono.”
Bernie’s love of music continues with his philanthropy efforts with Little Kids Rock, a national nonprofit organization that works to restore and revitalize music education in disadvantaged U.S. public schools. Little Kids Rock honored the New York Yankees icon with the 2010 “Big Man of the Year” award at the annual Right to Rock celebration. Bernie Williams performed onstage with students and signed some guitars to be auctioned. With the money he helped raise, Williams delivered instruments to a school in the Bronx and gave the students a lesson in music and life. Williams merged his two passions together in 2011 with the publishing of his book “Rhythms of the Game: The Link Between Music and Athletic Performance.” In this work, Williams explains the relationship between musical artistry and athletic performance.
Bernie Williams’ number 51 was retired by the Yankees in May of 2015.
Our retired number plaques are the perfect gift for any Yankees fan. These disks come in two sizes: large (10″ diameter) and small (6-3/4″ diameter). These disks are made with wooden/mdf disks and painted with blue pinstripes. Your favorite Yankees player number is then applied and then sent right to your door. Retired numbers include:
1 – Billy Martin, 2- Derek Jeter, 3 – Babe Ruth, 4 – Lou Gehrig, 5 – Joe DiMaggio, 6 – Joe Torre, 7 – Mickey Mantle, 8 – Bill Dickey, 8 – Yogi Berra, 9 – Roger Maris, 10 – Phil Rizzuto ,15 – Thurman Munson, 16 – Whitey Ford, 20 – Jorge Posada, 23 – Don Mattingly, 32 – Elston Howard, 37 – Casey Stengel, 42 – Mariano Rivera, 42 – Jackie Robinson, 44 – Reggie Jackson, 46 – Andy Pettite, 49 – Ron Guidry, 51 – Bernie Williams
The small plaques are priced at $29.00 per piece and the large plaques are $39.00 per piece. You can also purchase all 23 large plaques at a discounted price of $851.00 or all 23 small plaques for $621.00.
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Nicknames in baseball seem to be more recognizable than players actual names, especially if you are a Yankees fan. Out of all of the nicknames given to these star athletes, here is a list of the greatest nicknames in Yankees history.
10- Coming in at number 10, is Phil Rizzuto. Nicknamed “Scooter,” this alias came about because of the way he ran around the bases. Rizzuto was signed by the Yankees in 1937 and spent the next six decades as part of the Bombers’ family as a player and broadcaster. After retiring in the 1957, Rizzuto scooted to the broadcast booth to begin a nearly 40-year stint as one of the voices of the Yankees. Famed for his catchphrase “Holy Cow!” and his love of cannoli, Scooter certainly proved to be no huckleberry behind the mike either.
9- Next at number 9 is Mickey Mantle. Better known as The Mick, Muscles or The Commerce Comet, there’s not a space long enough to list the greatness that is Mickey Mantle, whose pair of nicknames stem from his hitting ability (a .298 career average with 532 home runs) and his hometown (Commerce, Oklahoma). Contrary to what the latter moniker might suggest, Mantle only stole 153 bases in his 18-year career … but then again, after patrolling the cavernous center field in the old Yankee Stadium for nearly two decades, we can excuse The Mick if his legs were a little tired sometimes.
8- Lawrence Peter Berra, better known as Yogi, holds the number 8 spot on this list. His name is so iconic that many don’t even know his real name! You may think his moniker stems from Yogi Bear, who shares a similar offbeat wit as Berra, but it was actually earned when a friend observed Yogi’s cross-legged method of sitting. This caption would be remiss without a mention of his famous Yogi-isms, but his witty barbs are far too numerous to attempt to pare down. Hey, it gets late early around here.
7- Who better to hold the next spot than Joseph DiMaggio. At number 7, this man better known as “Joltin’ Joe,” “The Yankee Clipper,” or simply “Joe,” hit in 56 straight games, a record still yet to be broken. The guy who married Marilyn Monroe and whose name has even made a few song appearances, certainly deserves a spot on this list.
6- Next up is Don Mattingly, also known as “Donnie Baseball,” was the face of the New York Yankees in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, a franchise cornerstone who won nine Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers. He was named team captain in 1991, and his No. 23 was retired in 1997. Amazingly, about the only thing Mattingly never did in pinstripes was win a championship but, we still like him anyway.
5- Lou Gehrig is next. Coming in at number 5, “The Iron Horse,” first appeared as a pinch hitter on June 1, 1925. Gehrig started at first base the next day in place of a slumping Wally Pipp. He then showed up to work for the next 2,130 consecutive game days, even while (unknowingly) suffering from the beginning effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – the cruel disease which prematurely ended his career and his life, and would later be named in his memory. Cal Ripken would later break Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games played, but on the day his new record streak ended, Baltimore’s opponent was, fittingly, the New York Yankees.
4- Reggie Jackson holds the number 4 spot with his nickname “Mr. October.” Reginald Martinez Jackson polarized the Yankees’ fan base like perhaps no other. Reggie claimed to be the “straw that stirs the drink” upon coming to the Bronx in 1977, and backed that up by helping lead the Yankees to their first World Championship in 15 years. That fall, Reggie truly earned the nickname accidentally given to him by Thurman Munson. Jackson hit .450 and slugged an astounding 1.250 in the 1977 World Series, bashing a Series-record five home runs.
3- Coming in at number 3, is Derek Jeter. Better known as “Mr. November,” “Mr. Yankee,” or even “Captain Clutch,” this man hit a game-winning home run in the early morning hours of November 1, 2001. The Yankees won another World Series thanks to Jeter’s hit and prompted the scoreboard operator (in homage to Reggie Jackson) to crown Derek as “Mr. November.”
2- Probably the man with the most nicknames in baseball history, George Herman Ruth comes in at number 2. Better known as The Babe, The King of Crash, The Sultan of Swat, The Colossus of Clout, or The Great Bambino, it is hard to pick just one alias. With a .342 career average, 714 home runs, and a legendary curse named after him, Ruth’s record speaks for itself. And to this day, the original Yankee Stadium is still known as “The House That Ruth Built.”
1-Finally, the number one nickname in Yankees history belongs to George Steinbrenner. Better known as “The Boss,” he purchased the Yankees from CBS in 1973, the team had gone eight years since appearing in the World Series – then the franchise’s longest Fall Classic drought since their first appearance in 1921.Over the next five years, Steinbrenner orchestrated a complete overhaul of the franchise, from the players and the staff right down to the complete renovation of Yankee Stadium. It paid off, and in 1977, the Yankees brought the Commissioner’s Trophy back to the Bronx for the first time since 1962. That was just the beginning of three more decades of decadence, as Steinbrenner did whatever was necessary to make the Yankees baseball’s pre-eminent franchise in perpetuity, including pioneering the first deal between an MLB team and a cable network – paving the way for the YES Network as you know it today.
To read more about Yankees nicknames and to see numbers 20-11, you can go here.
You’re killing me Smalls! The Yankees have recreated one of the most famous scenes from The Sandlot. Probably one of the most recognizable movies in baseball, the movie brings to life the dedication and passion of the game through the eyes of a group of youths. Throughout the cult classic, the kids idolize the one and only, Babe Ruth.
During the most iconic scene of the movie Smalls, the main character, brings a baseball signed by the Sultan of Swat to the field. The boys end up loosing the ball and it is only then that Smalls tells everyone just who signed the baseball. The group of kids cannot believe that they played with a baseball signed by The Babe. Brett Gardner takes on the naive role of Smalls while Jacoby Ellsbury, Dellin Betances, C.C. Sabathia, Didi Gregorius and Brian McCann play the incredulous Sandlot kids. The group of Yankees reenact the scene perfectly. You can see the video below. To see some of the hilarious outtakes, you can go here.
As many of us know, David Bowie passed away January 11 at the age of 69. This man was not only a legendary musician, but was also involved in the fashion world as well as the internet. Yes, it is true, David Bowie founded the internet company known as UltraStar.
UltraStar was a company that had a plan to bring celebrities online by creating their own ISPs and portals filled with customized online content. These would be on-ramps to the “Information Superhighway” for the celebrities’ fans, and UltraStar would make sure there would be plenty of billboards dedicated to the celebs as fans sped by. But how does this connect David Bowie to the New York Yankees?
His company created the Yankees official website. The website offered fans dial-up Internet access and membership in an online fan club, which is dated now but was a huge highlight when first debuted. “We couldn’t be more pleased to be working with the premier team in all of sports,” Bowie once said in a statement. “We hope to deal with one of the most profound unanswered questions in all of sports: Paul O’Neill can play drums, Bernie Williams can play guitar, but who’s on bass?”
Bowie was also part of a team in his early years. Bowie was a member of a group of expatriate Canadians who had a team called the Dulwich Blue Jays, and they’d play on weekends. He used to play in the outfield.
To read more about Bowie’s UltraStar Startup, you can go here.
To read more about Bowie’s involvement with the Yankees website, you can go here.
Sadly, we lost another Yankees great on the 13th of January. Luis Arroyo, the first Puerto Rican pitcher to ever play on the New York Yankees passed away on Wednesday from cancer. He was 88 years old.
Arroyo teamed up with the Yankees between 1960-1963, where he finished sixth in AL MVP voting after posting a 2.19 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 119 innings. He also saved 29 games to lead the league. Though Arroyo’s best seasons were with the Yankees, he was also a member of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Arroyo is most famously remembered for his screwball pitch. He said once that he could “keep the hitters guessing and can usually get [his] stuff over the plate. There’s not much more to pitching than that.” Yogi Berra added that his screwball “works two ways for Luis. For one thing, it’s a difficult pitch to hit. And, for another, the hitter seems to be always looking for it, enabling Luis to fool ’em with his fast one or his other curve.” Many men were in awe of the famous screwball.
Arroyo carried the Yanks to many successes. Whitey Ford also had something to say about Luis Arroyo. A Sports Illustrated article quoted the staff ace: “If I win 25, I’m going to hold out for $100,000 and split it with Luis.” Arroyo said he’d settle for 60-40. When Ford got his 20th victory of the season — for the first time in his superb career — and he merrily proclaimed in the clubhouse, “Beer for everybody on me, and make it two for my boy, Luis.”That was the tenth of 13 saves Arroyo picked up for Ford, who indeed went on to win 25 that season. In addition to inviting Arroyo to finish his 1961 Cy Young Award acceptance speech, Whitey kept his word, giving the closer a financial boost.
Arroyo’s glory was, however, short-lived. He injured his arm the following spring; while he pitched for two more seasons, he never regained his prior effectiveness. Arroyo retired after appearing in only six innings in the 1963 season. Over the course of his MLB career, he pitched 5311⁄3 innings with a 3.93 ERA, collecting 40 wins, 32 losses, and 44 saves.
To read more about Luis Arroyo, you can click here.
Nearly all of us know who Joe DiMaggio is, if not from his outstanding baseball career, then from his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. No matter how you remember this baseball legend, the one thing that has stood the test of time is his 56 game hitting streak. Nobody in baseball has been able to beat this streak. Many believe that sheer luck helped DiMaggio reach this record, as the only player to come close to this shattering record was Pete Rose, who hit 44 times. When the streak began on May 15, the Yanks were 14-14, 5 1/2 games behind Cleveland in fourth place. After Game No. 56 of the streak, the Yankees were 55-27 and first place with a 6-game lead over Cleveland.
During his streak, DiMaggio hit .408 (91-for-223), with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs and after extending the streak to 56 on July 16, DiMaggio led the American League in runs (80), hits (124) and RBIs (76), was tied for the lead in HR (20) and was second to Ted Williams in batting (.395 to .375). He homered for his only hit vs. Boston on July 2 — the day Lou Gehrig died. Also during the streak, he faced four future Hall of Fame pitchers — Lefty Grove, Hal Newhouser (twice), Bob Feller and Ted Lyons.
As DiMaggio’s fame increased, Alan Courtney and Ben Horner wrote the song, “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio” that became a big hit for the Les Brown Orchestra, but the record wasn’t released until 1942. With all of this fame, it is hard to believe that his streak almost ended at 35! On June 24 against St. Louis, DiMaggio was hitless when he batted in the seventh inning, and Browns manager Luke Sewell ordered Bob Muncrief to “walk him!” Muncrief refused, Sewell relented and DiMaggio landed a single. DiMaggio was voted the American League MVP that season over Boston’s Ted Williams who hit .406 — the last time a major-leaguer hit over .400.
The streak was interrupted by the 1941 All-Star Game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. DiMaggio was 1-for-4 against the National League. After the streak ended, DiMaggio confided to a teammate that failing to extend the streak for one more game cost him the $10,000 promised to him by the Heinz Corporation to endorse their Heinz 57 products. Imagine Joe DiMaggio, the face of Heinz products! It is hard to believe but, DiMaggio never bunted for a hit during his streak. The last pitcher to yield a hit to DiMaggio during the streak was Indians reliever Joe Krakauskas, a native of Quebec. Although DiMaggio had a 56 game hitting streak in the Major Leagues, he had a 61-game hit streak with the San Francisco Seals (Pacific Coast League) in 1933, which is the second-longest in minor-league history to Joe Wilhoit (69 games, 1919).
To read more about Joe DiMaggio and his 56-game streak, you can go here.
The Yankees have been one of the most noted teams throughout history. Between shattering records and winning countless World Series, the Yankees have always been in the spotlight. But how did it all start? Well, in 1903, the Highlanders, as they were first called, were purchased from Baltimore and moved to New York. Their famous pinstripe uniforms were introduced in 1912 and the following year, the team name was changed to the New York Yankees.
In 1920, as many can recall, the most infamous trade in baseball history is made as Babe Ruth joins the Yankees from the Boston Red Sox. As 1921 approaches, the Yankees win their first Atlantic League Pennant. The Yankees then settled into their permanent home in the Bronx during 1923 and win their first World Championship trophy, playing against their rival, the NY Giants. From the years 1925 to 1939, Lou Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games, setting remarkable standards for all future ball players. Meanwhile, in 1927, Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in one season creating a record that will stand strong until Roger Marris breaks it with 61 homers in 1961.
The Yankees also go on to win another World Series. As the 1932 season came to a close, the Yankees won yet another world championship and Lou Gehrig set another record by hitting four home runs in a single game. To this day, no Yankee has been able to beat Gehrig’s record. Then, Babe Ruth hit his incredible 700th home run in 1934, just as the Yankees acquired another great, Joe DiMaggio. Over the next few years, the Bronx Bombers go on to win a record six World Series titles in eight consecutive years. But sadly, in 1939, Lou Gehrig’s streak comes to an end and the Yankees honor him by retiring his number 4. Gehrig’s number is the first number ever to be retired in Yankees History. As 1941 came and went, Joe DiMaggio achieved his 56-game hitting streak that still stands today. Many believe it will never be broken. Unfortunately during the same year, Lou Gehrig passed away at the age of 37. Babe Ruth’s number is the second number to be retired by the Yankees in 1948 and within the next five years, the Yankees win five more World Series trophies. By 1951, Mickey Mantle joined the ranks of the Yankees as Joe DiMaggio announced his retirement from baseball.
Mickey Mantle drew attention in 1953 with his outstanding home runs and forced statisticians to record the distance of his blasts. He recorded a 565 foot shot against the Senators in Washington. Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series history during 1956, helping the Yankees defeat their rival, the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Yanks start the decade in grand style during 1960, capturing five consecutive pennants and two World Series victories. This stretch included some of the most talented and popular players to wear the pinstripes. Team leaders included Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard, Joe Pepitone, and Roger Maris. In 1961, the Yankees became responsible for one of the most memorable baseball seasons ever as they continue their on-field dominance with another World Championship. It is in this year that the most hallowed record in baseball is broken as Roger Maris eclipsed Babe Ruth’s single season home run record. This new record will stand until Mark McGuire belts 70 homers in 1998, 37 years later. Mickey Mantle’s number gets retired in 1969, signaling the end of an era in Yankees history.
However, in 1973, “The Boss” George Steinbrenner emerges as part of the new ownership of the Yanks, who was owner of the team until 2010, when he passed away leaving them to his sons Hank and Hal Steinbrenner. While the Yanks play the next two seasons in Shea Stadium due to refurbishments, they also acquire Catfish Hunter, the most coveted and most expensive player in free agency. The following year, Billy Martin becomes manager of the club for the first time. He will eventually manage the Yankees a total of five separate times during his illustrious, and tumultuous, managerial career. Reggie Jackson is signed to the team in 1976 and in 1977, Jackson helps the Yankees capture their 21st World Championship.
Sadly in 1979, we lose another Yankees legend, Thurman Munson, who dies in a plane crash. His number is immediately retired by the team. Then in 1983, Dave Righetti pitches a no-hitter on the 4th of July, the first no-hitter for the Yankees since Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956. In the most bizarre situation of the season, an apparent game winning home run by George Brett of the Royals is denied after the umpire decides that Brett has used too much pine tar on his bat. This “pine tar” game is finally settled a month later with the Royals being awarded the victory.
By the end of the 1987 season, Don Mattingly puts himself in the record books by hitting a home run in eight consecutive games tying the MLB record previously held by Dale Long. Donnie Baseball caps his season by hitting six grand slams, another Major League record. Sadly, in 1989, Yankee legend Billy Martin dies abruptly in an automobile accident. The Yanks honor the great Reggie Jackson by retiring his number in 1993 just as inspirational pitcher Jim Abbott hurls a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium. In 1995, another great is lost when Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle dies of cancer. In 1996,The Yankees win their first World Series in eighteen years, the longest drought in franchise history. They defeat the heavily favored Atlanta Braves in six games. The season is highlighted by Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter at Yankee Stadium and then in 1997, Don Mattingly officially retires from baseball.
Over the years, there have been many Yankees legends who helped to change the face of baseball. Many of these legends including the late Yogi Berra and the recently retired Derek Jeter have set numerous records and are honored in Monument Park at Yankees Stadium.
To read more about the New York Yankees, you can go here.
If you’re a Yankees fan, then you know that after every game Frank Sinatra blares from the speakers of Yankee Stadium. How did this New York anthem come to be famously connected with the Yankees? It all began with George Steinbrenner. He was a huge fan of music and frequented many clubs in the area. Steinbrenner went to Jimmy Weston’s dinner club, a place where Frank Sinatra would also appear. Steinbrenner became good friends with a disc jockey there who would give him songs to play during baseball games. When Steinbrenner heard “Theme from New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra, he played it at the stadium and it became a ritual that after every game, that song would be played. Though Sinatra made this song famous, it was originally recorded by Liza Minnelli for a Martin Scorsese film. For a while, every time the Yankees lost, the Liza Minnelli version would be played and every time they won, they would play the Sinatra version. Minnelli was not happy about this and so the Yankees dropped her version altogether in favor of Frank Sinatra’s tune. So now, after every ball game at Yankees Stadium, you can be sure to hear “Theme from New York, New York” sung, of course, by Ol’ Blue Eyes.
If you would like to read more about this article you can go here.
Sadly, we lost one of baseball’s greats yesterday. Yogi Berra — Hall of Famer, all-time Yankees legend, World War II veteran, master of misstatement and beloved international icon, is gone. Berra died Tuesday night at the age of 90. Berra is most readily linked to championships in the game he played from 1946, when he broke in with the Yankees, until ’65, when he made a brief return to active duty and took his final at-bat with the Mets. His teams played in the World Series 14 times and won it 10 times. No other player has a comparable October resume. He managed the Yankees to the World Series in 1964 and the Mets to their “Ya Gotta Believe” World Series appearance nine years later. It was during the Mets’ worst-to-first rush in late summer ’73 when a phrase widely attributed to him became popular and, over decades, frequently invoked by those fighting diminishing chances — “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
Rest in peace Yogi- you will never be forgotten.
Do you remember when Will Ferrell played for not one, but ten different teams! He even managed to play in every position on the field. Ferrell said his goal was to get signed by at least one club by the end of the day. But all joking aside, Ferrell set out to raise money for charity. He started his day off with some interviews and then suited up for the Oakland A’s. Then, he switched teams and played for the Mariners! Next Ferrell joined the Los Angeles Angels as they played against the Cubs. He was traded to the cubs for a washing machine. He then proceeded to coach third base for the cubs. As the day drew on, Ferrell managed to play on the Diamondbacks, Reds, Giants, White Sox, Dodgers, and Padres. At the end of the day, Ferrell went 0-for-2 with two strike outs. He fielded the baseball five times and threw one pitch. He retired with an ERA of 0.00. All of the proceeds from that day were donated to Stand up to Cancer and Cancer for College.
To read more about Ferrell’s day, you can read more here!