New York Yankee Legends: The Yankee Red Sox rivalry started with Babe Ruth

George Herman “Babe” Ruth born in 1895, is the greatest New York Yankee baseball player to have ever to play the game. He also started one of the greatest rivalries in all of the sports. He would go on to hit 714 home runs, 2,213 RBI’s, over 2,000 bases on balls, with a slugging percentage of .690 and an OPS of 1.164, two records that still stand today. He was not only a great baseball player but still, today stands as one of America’s greatest sports icons in American culture.

So goes the story of the real Babe Ruth that few know about. Ruth was born in Baltimore Maryland. With his father working long hours in his saloon and his mother often in poor health, Little George (as he was known) spent his days unsupervised on the waterfront streets and docks, committing petty theft and vandalism. Hanging out in his father’s bar, he stole money from the till drained the last drops from old beer glasses, and developed a taste for chewing tobacco. He was only six years old.

Having been declared incorrigible at the age of seven by the Baltimore courts, his parents sent him to St. Mary’s Industrial School. After a month passed they brought him back home to see if he had changed and reconciliation could be achieved, he hadn’t and it would lead to several attempts by his parents. in 1904 at the age of nine, Ruth would meet the Roman Catholic Brother Matthias at St. Mary’s. Later in life when asked about Brother Matthias, Ruth would say. He changed my life, “He taught me to read and write and he taught me the difference between right and wrong, He was the father I needed and the greatest man I’ve ever known.”

Ruth would end up living his young life at the school until the age of eighteen. During that time his mentor would throw balls at the boys to catch. Young George was thrilled to catch and throw the ball. He imitated the Brother’s hitting style, holding the bat at the knob and taking big swings.

As he grew older he began to actually play baseball at St. Mary’s. In one St. Mary’s game in 1913, Ruth, then 18 years old, caught, played third base (even though he threw left-handed), and pitched, striking out six men, and collecting a double, a triple, and a home run. That summer, he was allowed to pitch with local amateur and semipro teams on weekends. Impressed with his play a Baltimore scout Jack Dunn signed Ruth to his minor-league Baltimore Orioles club the following February. The Orioles short on money sold the young Ruth to the Boston Red Sox.

During the offseason, Babe married his girlfriend Boston waitress Helen Woodford. In the following season, he shined for the Sox, winning three complete games in a span of nine days in June. Between June 1 and September 2, Ruth was 13-1 and ended the season 18-8. The personality of the younger Ruth began to show its head as he caroused at night and began to argue with umpires.  In his six seasons with Boston, he won 89 games and recorded a 2.19 ERA. He had a four-year stretch where he was second in the AL in wins and ERA behind Walter Johnson, and Ruth had a winning record against Johnson in head-to-head matchups. But also during the time, he fought with management and was as a headache. His continued outright refusal to adhere to the team’s curfew earned him several suspensions and his non-stop salary demands infuriated owner Frazee.

Just after New Year’s 1920, the worst deal in Major League history would be made. The Boston Red Sox would sell Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000. Frazee would comment that Ruth was one of the most selfish and inconsiderate men that ever wore a baseball uniform. He also said Ruth ate and drank excessively, frequented prostitutes, and had been involved in several car accidents. It would have surprised no one if, for whatever reason, Ruth was out of baseball in a year or two. It was a gamble that the Yankees were will to take.

While Babe Ruth was with the Yankees he broke every record in baseball. He became an American Icon and a part of American culture. In his fifteen years with the Yankees alone, hit scored nearly 2,000 runs and 2,000 RBI’s.  He also hit 659 home runs.

In 1928 the Yankees got the AL pennant. The Yankees swept the Cardinals that year and Ruth hit 54 home runs on the year. During this time, the Yankees were known as Murderers’ Row, because of the power of its lineup, In January 1929, Babe’s first wife, Helen, died in a house fire in Watertown, Massachusetts.

At the end of the 1929 season, Miller Higgins passed away and Ruth applied for the job but was never seriously considered for the job. By the end of June 1930, Ruth was ahead of his 60-homer pace of 1927, but injuries slowed him down and he finished with 49. In 1931, at age 36, Ruth had one of his finest seasons. He hit .373/.495/.700, with 46 home runs, 162 RBIs, 128 walks, and 149 runs scored. The Yankees swept the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series, giving them wins in 12 straight World Series games. For the previous few years, Ruth’s hard living and injuries were catching up with him.

In 1934 due to his declining health and stats Yankee’s owner Ruppert gave Ruth a pay cut of 50%., Ruth accepted knowing his 20-year career was coming to an end. On July 13 against the Detroit Tigers, Ruth would hit his 700th home run. Ruth had always wanted to be a manager, So Yankees manager Ruppert worked out a secret deal with the Boston Braves manager to offer Ruth a contract that would include the titles of Assistant Manager and Vice President. When Ruth would present the deal to the Yankees owner, he said he wouldn’t stand Ruth’s way, so Ruppert’s trick worked.

In 1935 with the Braves, Ruth would play in only 28 games batting .181. Ruth did get the final three home runs of his career that year. Ruth is the only major leaguer to pitch in at least 10 seasons and has a winning record in all of them. Ruth had winning records in 10 seasons: 1914-1921, 1930, and 1933. Andy Pettitte now holds the record at 13 seasons (1995-2007). Ruth concluded he was finished even as a part-time player. As early as May 12, he asked Fuchs to let him retire, Ruth retired on June 2 after an argument with Fuchs.

On an afternoon in 1945 wearing a brand-new Gems jersey with a bright red baseball cap and matching stockings, the 51-year-old Ruth managed to hit off a handful of home runs before the game, much to the delight of everyone in attendance at Hartford, Connecticut’s Buckeley Stadium. His game-time performance, however, resulted in a handful of unexciting balls and strikes while at-bat. Later he would tell reporters “Some days the pitches look like watermelons and other days like peanuts.” No one would know it at the time but it would be the last time Ruth would ever wear a baseball uniform.

A few months later he was diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer in 1946 and died from the disease in 1948. A living legend took the plate for the last time in front of thousands of adoring fans that September in Connecticut history. Such was the life of George Herman “Babe” Ruth.

On August 16, 73 years ago, the “Babe” passed away. A requiem mass and funeral for the Babe was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral three days later.  6,000 mourners bowed their heads as Cardinal Spellman made a special prayer at the end of the solemn 1-hour service. 75,000 people waited outside the Cathedral in the pouring rain to say goodbye to the greatest baseball player of all time.

 

New York Yankees: This week in Yankee history, Goodbye Babe, Hello Derek

New York Yankees, Yankees, Derek Jeter

There probably isn’t a day that goes by that something in New York Yankee history hasn’t happened that is memorable in their 109-year history. Here is a look at this week’s happenings in that history.

1997, May 29th:

On this day, the New York Yankees acquired Hideki Irabu from the San Diego Padres. It turned out to be one of the worst trades ever made by the Yankees. He was 29-20 over four years. The only problem was that when he was acquired, he was supposed to be the new Yankee ace. That obviously didn’t come close to working out.

2002, May 29th:

Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens becomes the third pitcher in the majors to have 10 or more strikeouts in at least 100 games pitched. The other two were Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.

1938, May 30th:

On this day, the Yankees had record attendance. It was Memorial Day and a doubleheader for the Yankees against the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees sweep the Red Sox in front of a crowd of 81 841 packed into the Stadium. It’s a record that will never be beaten. The new Stadium only has a capacity of 54,341.

1938, May 31st:

Lou Gehrig played his 2,000th consecutive game in a win over the Boston Red Sox. Gehrig would play another 130 games before ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) ended his Yankee career.

2009, June 1st:

The New York Yankees created a record that has not been broken to this day. They played 18 consecutive games without committing an error. The following day Jorge Posada would throw a bullet out into centerfield when trying to gun down a base stealer.

1935 June 2nd:

Former Yankee pitcher and slugger Babe Ruth announces his retirement from baseball.

1941, June 2nd:

The New York Yankees arrived in Detroit to play a series against the Tigers. Upon their arrival, they found out that Yankee Captain Lou Gehrig has passed away in this sleep from ALS. It was just 17  days before his 38th birthday. Ironically it was 16 years ago exactly that he made the Yankee major league lineup.

1932, June 3rd:

Playing the Philadelphia Athletics, the Yankees’ Lou Gehrig becomes the first player in the modern era to hit four home runs in the same game. The Yankees won the slugfest 20-13 and scored a record 50 bases in the game.

1998, June 3rd:

After escaping Cuba only six months earlier, Orlando Hernandez “El Duque” got his first Yankee win.  He defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-1 in front of an adoring Yankees crowd at Yankee Stadium.

2003, June 3rd:

Derek Jeter was named the 11th captain of the New York Yankees. He would go on to being one of the best players in the game. He would play another 13 years for the Yankees. He was a 14-time American League All-Star and was sixth all-time with 3,645 career hits. He spent all 20 years of his career with the Yankees.

 

 

 

New York Yankees Top 10’s: Is your favorite left-fielder on this list? (video)

The New York Yankees, in their 109-year glorious history, have had their share of great baseball players.  From Babe Ruth to Joe DiMaggio to Ron Guidry, Derek Jeter, and dozens more, some of the best baseball players in history have graced Yankee Stadium.  I’ve dealt with the pitchers, catchers, baseman, right fielders, and centerfielders in my other top ten columns. Still to come are managers, acquisitions, and top 10 Yankee moments.

In this installment, I will attempt to identify the great Yankee outfielders.  With so many great outfielders, some writers will differ in the order of their preferences.  Here are this writer’s top 10.  Identifying the top 10 is a bit more complicated with left fielders as they tend to play other positions as well.  But here goes:

10.  Yogi Berra

Based on the whole of his New York Yankee career Yogi Berra should be higher on this list.  However, Yogi surprisingly did play in left field for the Yankees.  Although he was known mostly as a catcher, his career batting average of .285 while hitting 358 home runs and 1,430 runs batted in lands him on this list.  Yogi Berra has the distinction of having earned the most World Championship rings (10) than any other Yankee.

9.  Gene Woodling

Gene Woodling played for the New York Yankees (1949–54).  Although he played all over the outfield, he was mostly known for his excellent defense in left field.  He was fast and had a great range.  Woodling played in left field for four Yankee Championship seasons from 1950-1953.  Although he never played more than 125 games in a season, he has kept him on the lower part of the list.  He also was not one of the best Yankee hitters.  One thing that held him down on this list was manager Casey Stengel’s tendency to platoon players.

8.  Tim Raines

Tim Raines was with the Yankees from 1996 to 1999; he played about 50 games a year in the Yankees left field during that span.  He was a great outfielder but what puts him on this list is his Yankee career batting average of .299.  Although he is best known for his 13 years with the Montreal Expos, he was fast and agile footed for the Yankees making many near impossible catches for the Yankees. Raines was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.

7.  Hideki Matsui

Hideki Matsui is the first Yankee that was truly a great left fielder for the New York Yankees.  Matsui was acquired from Japan from NPB’s Yomiuri Giants after playing ten years for them.  Matsui played seven years for the Yankees, five of them in left field before he became a DJ due to injury. In his seven years, he had a career batting average of .292. On May 6, 2007, Matsui recorded his 2,000th hit between the teams.  He had a habit of hitting home runs on his birthday.  On June 12, 2008, he hit a Grand Slam, and on the same day in 2009, he hit a 3 run homer. In the 2009 World Series, “Godzilla” batted .615 with 3 home runs and 8 runners batted in, which earned him the Most Valuable Player Award.

6.  Lou Piniella

Pinella is known as sweet Lou.  He played in the Yankee left field for most of eleven years.  Not many balls got past Piniella; in his Yankee career, he had a .989 fielding percentage. Although Lou was not a home run hitter, he had a career batting average of .291.  He hit 148 doubles while with the Yankees.  Fans immediately embraced him when he came from the Kansas City Royals to the Yankees.  Lou Piniella captured two World Series Rings with the Yankees in 1977 and 1978.  Piniella seemed to shine in the postseason.  He batted .305 in postseason play and hit 3 postseason home runs.  Lou would go on to be the New York Yankee manager from 1986 to 1988.

5.  Bob Meusel

Bob Meusel is often an unsung Yankee.  He played for the Yankees for 10 of his 11-year baseball career. He played left field more than any other position, 626 games for the Yankees. But he alternated between left and right, and never actually played 100 games in left in any single season.  Besides his stellar defense, Meusel was known as a hitter. The three-time MVP nominee hit .309 batting for the Yankees.  His best year for the Yankees was 1925, when he hit and unheard of at the time. 33 home runs and had 134 runs batted in. He helped the Yankees to their first-ever World Series Championship and another in 1927 and 1928.

4.  Dave Winfield

The giant of a man Dave Winfield came to the New York Yankees when owner George M. Steinbrenner went out and got him from the free agency from the San Deigo Padres.  Winfield would have a remarkable 22-year career in the majors, nine of them with the Yankees.  The 6′ 6″ left fielder was extremely fast for a big man in the left field at Yankee Stadium.  During his nine years with the Yankees, he batted .290 with 205 home runs.   Unfortunately for Winfield, his time with the Yankees was not always pleasant.  Steinbrenner was dismayed that he gave Winfield such a lucrative contract and withheld payments to his charity that was part of that contract. Winfield never played in a World Series for the Yankees as he played during their 17-year drought. Winfield was installed into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

3.  Roy White

Roy White was one of the best left fielders in all of baseball. White played for the Yankees between 1965 and 1979; his fifteen-year tenure manning left field for the Yankees allowed him to leapfrog a few on this list. He was a two-time All-Star and a four-time MVP candidate. His 1521 games in left field at Yankee Stadium makes him number one in games played in left field.  White has the misfortune to play with some pretty poor Yankee teams during the CBS ownership.  He did win two World Series after Steinbrenner revitalized the team in 1977 and 1978.  Roy was a quiet man and a gentleman who just went about his business with little fanfare.  During his time with the team, he was one of the most popular Yankee players.

2.  Charlie Keller

If I woke up on the other side of the bed today, I might have put Charlie Keller as number one on this list. Charlie Keller played left field for 874 games, scattered over 13 seasons, all with the Yankees.  The sure-footed Keller played excellent defense in left with a .988 fielding percentage while hitting .286 with 189 home runs.  He had constant peak performance throughout his career except for the last two years after returning from back surgery.  Keller was also the second longest-tenured left fielder in Yankee baseball history. He was a five-time All-Star and an MVP candidate four times.  From 1939 to 1952.  One distinction that Charlie has is that he holds eight World Series wins, second only to Yogi Berra. Keller is one of the most overlooked players, not having made the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1.  Babe Ruth

Yes, surprisingly, number one on the list is Babe Ruth. I say surprisingly because he is known more as a right fielder and first baseman.  He was a better hitter than a left fielder.  He had a very satisfactory fielding percentage of .968 but hot as good as a few others on this list.  But his longest tenure than any Yankee on this list and his far and away better hitting ability catapults him to the top of this list.

Babe’s career with the New York Yankees resulted in a batting average of .342 with 659 home runs and just shy of 2,000 runs batted in.  Although Ruth played more games in the right field, he played more seasons in the left field.  From 1914 to 1935, Ruth helped the Yankees to four World Championships.  Babe Ruth is known as the best baseball player ever to play the game was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 as one of the first five inaugural entrants.  Of any Yankee player, Ruth was more than a baseball star; he was a cultural hero during the great depression when the nation needed hope; Ruth provided that hope.

Honorable mentions go to Tom Tresh, Ben Chapman, Willie Cree, Jake Powell, Mickey Mantle, and Ricky Henderson.  Reggie Jackson and Roger Maris never played left field for the Yankees.

In selecting my top ten, I valued time with the club, performance as per Baseball-Reference.com.  Peak career performance and performance in postseason play was also a factor.  Special situations like changing career positions were also a consideration.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Yankees Top 10’s: The best Yankee right fielders thru history (videos)

This is another installment of my top 10 New York Yankees series; I give my choices for the top 10 Yankee right fielders of all time.  The Yankees, in their glorious history, have many of the best players ever to play in their positions in the history of MLB.  Previous installments have featured the top ten first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, and shortstops. With so many good players and different ways of measuring greatness, different writers may have different rankings; these are mine.

10.  Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge has only played for the Yankees for five years but has racked up a batting average of .272 with 268 runs driven in and 119 home runs, plus another 11 long balls in postseason play. Considering his excellent stats, his defense is even better.  He has a rocket of an accurate arm, making many difficult plays look easy.  In future years he could easily rank considerably higher on this list.  The only thing that might prevent that is his frequent injuries. 2017 was his best year with the Yankees; his injuries have prevented him from greatness since then.

9. George Selkirk

Many Yankee fans may not know the name of George Selkirk, but he played for the New York Yankees between 1934 and 1942, playing his entire career for the Yankees. Selkirk was an excellent fielder and hit a .290 batting average for the Yankees with 576 runs batted. His fielding percentage was .976, which was excellent for that time.

8. Gary Sheffield

Gary Sheffield could have been higher on this list. However, he only played three years with the Yankees. Sheffield was a menacing figure at the plate. In his three years, he hit .291 with 269 RBIs and 76 home runs. Sheffield, like Aaron Judge, had a cannon for an arm. He made spectacular plays, often hitting the right-field wall. He had a remarkable 22-year career in the outfield. He played for the Yankees between 2004 and 2006.

7. Hank Bauer

Hanke Bauer is often an underrated right fielder. He played for the Yankees between 1948 and 1959. During that time, he hit .277 with 654 runs batted in and 158 long balls. He was one of the Yankee’s most contact hitters of his time. In 12 years with the Yankees, he hit an average of 110 hits a year for a total of 1326 hits. He was a five-time MVP candidate during the span.

6. Lou Piniella

Lou Piniella was one of the most popular New York Yankee players in the 1970s and ’80s. He spent eleven years with the Yankees hitting .295 with 417 RBIs. Piniella was not a home run hitter but had 971 hits in his Yankee tenure. He was a magnificent arm in the outfield. Piniella had a vast knowledge of the game and went on to be the Yankee manager from 1986 to 1987. He also managed the Mariners, Cubs, Rays, and the Reds. He returned to manage the Yankees for the second time in 1988.

5. Roger Maris

Roger Maris is a famous Yankees often overrated due to his record 61 home runs in 1961. What is overlooked is that he was an outstanding right fielder. His fielding percentage was .978. He hit .265 with 541 runs batting while getting 203 home runs. He was an MVP in the right field and an MVP in centerfield as well in 1961. He is one of the very few Yankees to win the MVP award several times. Maris, who came from the Athletics but his seven years with the Yankees, were his best years. After leaving the Yankees, he quickly faded away.

4. Dave Winfield

The hulking Dave Winfield was another Yankee that was a fan favorite. However, he didn’t have the best relationship with the New York Yankees’ primary owner George Steinbrenner and regularly fought with him. Winfield came to the Yankees from the San Diego Padres in 1981 and hung around until 1990. During that time, he hit .290 with 818 runs batting in and 205 home runs. His 1300 as a Yankee was part of a career that produced 3,110 hits. While with the Yankees, he was an All-Star eight times and a five-time Gold Glover in right-field. Dave was a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

3. Reggie Jackson

George Steinbrenner, who was not shy when spending money, reached out into the new free-agent market and acquired Reggie Jackson from the Baltimore Orioles for just short of $3 million in 1976.  Jackson would later say:

“It was like trying to hustle a girl in a bar,” the flamboyant Jackson said about Steinbrenner’s efforts after he signed a five‐year contract with the Yankees said to be worth $2.9 million. “Some clubs offered several hundred thousand dollars more. possibly seven figures more,‐ but the reason I’m a Yankee is that George Steinbrenner outhustled everybody else.”

It was a cheap buy for Steinbrenner as Jackson turned out to be George’s best purchase.  However, Jackson was a controversial player with the Yankees; some loved him, some hated him.  That includes manager Billy Martin, catcher Thurman Munson, and Steinbrenner himself.  There were often fights for power amongst the three.  He always wanted to be in the spotlight in dugout fights with Martin and his hitting three homers in one game.

Regardless of what negative views fans of others had of him, he deserved the praise.  During his five years with the New York Yankees, he hit .281 with 144 home runs.  He had a 900 OPS.  He also had a .980 fielding percentage in right field for the Yankees.  Reggie was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

2. Paul O’Neill

Paul O’Neill is unsung and unrewarded as a Yankee right-fielder, and many sportswriters would put him down a few notches on this list. But this writer feels he is one of the best players ever to grace the right-field at Yankees Stadium.  His batting average of .303 over nine years with the Yankees speaks for itself.  He hit for power, he hit for contact, and he was the ultimate team player.  He consistently did what was needed to help his team.

O’Neill played for the Yankees from 1993 to 2001; he was part of four Yankee World Series Championships and contributed to them. During his time, the “Warrior” had 858 RBIs and hit 185 home runs while hitting nearly 1,500 hits.  Paul will probably not reach the Hall of Fame for his lack of home runs, but he owned the fans for his time with the Yankees.  In his last game as a Yankee in 2001, it was the ninth inning; from the entire stadium, all you hear for the whole inning was “Paulie” clap, clap, clap, clap, Paulie, clap, clap, clap, clap.

Since retiring from baseball, he has become an integral part of the YES Network, broadcasting and analyzing Yankee games.

1.  Babe Ruth

There is not enough space in this article to talk about the achievements of Babe Ruth; he is not only my pick for the best New York Yankee right-fielder but the best baseball player ever.  In what was called the worst trade in baseball history, Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, being short on money, traded Babe Ruth away to the Yankees for $100,000 the day after Christmas in 1919.

Ruth would spend the next fifteen years with the Yankees.  Over the period, he had a batting average of an incredible .349, with 659 home runs.  There was no other hitter like him then and since then.  He had a fielding percentage that averaged .965, which for that time was very good.  Ruth was an All-Star and a most valuable player back when awards weren’t as common as they are today.  Being a pitcher for the Red Sox, he even pitched to a winning percentage of 1.000 with a record of 5-0.

In his 15 years with the Yankees, Ruth helped the team win seven American League (AL) pennants and four World Series championships.  In 1936 Ruth was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of its “first five” inaugural members.

New York Yankees: This week in Yankee History

New York Yankees, Babe Ruth

There probably isn’t a day that goes by that something in New York Yankee history hasn’t happened that is memorable in their 109-year history. Here is a look at this week’s happenings in that history.

1922 April 16th:

Babe Ruth signs a three year contract with the New York Yankees at $52,000 per year, which in 2021 money was worth $819,000. Quite a deal for the best baseball player the world has even known.

1923 April 18th:

The New York Yankees unveil their new 2.5 million dollar Stadium in the Bronx, New York. Babe Ruth hit the first home run in the new Stadium in front of 72,000 Yankee fans. The Stadium was the first to feature three decks. Ruth’s two-run homer defeated the Boston Red Sox 4-1.

1929 April 18th:

The Yankees become the second major league team to have numbers on their jerseys. Numbers were assigned by their place in the lineup. Earl Combs #1, Mark Koenig #2, Babe Ruth #3, Lou Gehrig #4, Bob Meusel #5, Tony Lazzeri #6, Leo Durocher #7, Johnny Grabowski #8, and Ben Bengough #9.

1972 April 18th:

For the first time in New York Yankee franchise history, the Yankees have an Opening Day game that was held at night at the Stadium in the Bronx. Steve Kline threw a three-hitter to beat the Brewers 3-0.

1949 April 19th:

It’s Opening Day at Yankees Stadium. The Yankees unveiled a monument honoring Babe Ruth eight months after his death. He joined Lou Gehrig and Miller Huggins with the honor. That area would later be called Monument Park and was actually on the playing field in the far center field.

1960 April 19th:

It’s Opening Day at Fenway Park in Boston. Newly acquired Roger Maris goes 4 for 5 on the day. Two homers,, a double,, and 11 runs scored. The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 8-4.

2019 April 19th:

For the first time ever in the Major Leagues,, two players wearing the number 0 faced each other in a game. Adam Ottavino vs. the Kansas City Royals Terrance Gore. The New York Yankees won the game 6-2.

2007 April 20th:

Alex Rodriguez becomes the first player in baseball history to hit 12 home runs in his first 15 games. He hit two long balls in vain in this game as the Yankees lost the game to the Boston Red Sox.

1956 April 22nd:

New York Yankee pitcher Don Larsen hits a Grand Slam causing a 13-6 win over the Boston Red Sox. Larsen, known for his pitching fame actually for a pitcher, was a pretty good hitter, hitting 14 home runs and having a .242 batting average in his career.

1959 April 22nd:

Yankee pitcher Whitey Ford strikes out 15 Senator batters.

1959 April 22nd:

It was the 14th inning of a game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Senators. Bill Skowron entered the 0-0 14th and hit a homer to deep left field, winning the game for the Yankees 1-0. Yankee pitcher Whitey Ford pitched all 14 innings.

1985 April 23rd:

New York Yankee Don Baylor collected his 999th and 1000th RBI when he hit a two run homer in the sixth inning of a game the Yankees would lose to the Red Sox. Baylor would finish his Yankee career with 1,276 RBI’s

2000 April 23rd:

At the Toronto Skydome (now Rogers Center) Bernie William and Jorge Posada would be come the first players to ever hit homers from each side of the plate in the same game. The feat was repeated in 2009 by Tony Clark and Felipe Lopez  for the Arizona Diamondbackss

1977 April 21st:

After losing several games the New York Yankee manager Billy Martin pulls his lineup for the day out of a hat, and the Yankees win over the Toronto Blue Jays 8-6. Unbelivable yet true.

1987 April 24th:

At a Cleveland Indian game Yankee Ricky Henderson became the first player ever to homer off two different 300 game winners in the same game. The pitchers were Steve Carlton and Phil Niekro.

2008 April 24th:

A Red Sox David Ortiz jersey was secretly buried in cement at the under construction new Yankee Stadium. The secret wasn’t kept and the jersey retrieved. On this day in 2008 the jersey was auctioned off to benefit the Jimmy Fund. It sold for $175,100.

1988 April 20th:

New York Yankees score their 9,999th, 10,000th, and 10,000 home runs. Dave Winfield. Claudel Washington and Jack Clarke.

 

New York Yankees: Opening Week throughout Yankee history

New York Yankees, Babe Ruth

The New York Yankees have an illustrious 119-year history, starting as the Baltimore Orioles.  The Yankees have one of the most successful franchises in all sports. They have 40 American League championships and 27 World Series to their name. Not a day goes by that something important happens; here is a look at this week in Yankee history. I picked this week as it normally was Opening Week, with lots of news:

1913 – In an exhibition game at Ebbets Field, The Yankees lost to the Brooklyn Dodgers 3-2. Player Casey Stengel hit an inside-the-park home run, the first home run ever at Ebbets Field.

1925 – Babe Ruth suffers a collapse at an Ashville, North Carolina train station. The supposed cause was a hot dog and soda binge. He required surgery and missed seven weeks of play.

1934 – Babe Ruth makes more money doing a weekly show for the Quaker Oats company than his weekly Yankee salary.

1973 – Ron Blomberg becomes the first designated hitter. The Yankees become the last team in baseball to do away with fannel uniforms in favor of polyester.

1974 – The Yankees start the renovation of Yankee Stadium and play for the next two years at Shea Stadium until the renovations are complete.

1976 – The Milwaukee team lost to the Yankees 9-7 in a heartbreaking loss for the mid-west team. Don Money blasted a homer into the stands, but Yankee manager raced to the field to claim that a time out had been called. The umpires finally admitted that time had indeed been called, causing the Brewers to lose the game.

1982 – A blizzard caused the postponement of Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. Over a foot of snow blanketed the Stadium with sub-freezing temperatures. The Northeaster storm also caused the postponement of the start of the season for 6 other teams.

1989 – It’s Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, and Tommy John took to the mound for his 26th season, tieing a record. We beat the Twins 4-2. It was John’s 287th win.

1994 – The New York Yankees have their largest ever attendance at Yankee Stadium. 56,706 attended Opening Day.

2003 – On Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, it was 35 degrees at game time. Newly acquired, Hideki Matsui got his first hit at the Stadium, a massive Grand Slam into the right-field bleachers. There were as many Japanese reporters at the Stadium as American ones.

2004 – New York Yankees manager Joe Torre agree to a 3-year contract extension. Torre won four World Series titles, all before this extension. Joe Girardi took over for Torre in 2008.

2009 – The New Yankee Stadium opens one block north of the old Stadium that “Ruth built” in the Bronx borough of New York City. The new stadium, the second-largest in MLB was funded with $1.6 billion of taxpayer money and $1 billion of private investment. The old Stadium was razed and is now a public park called Heritage Field.

2010 – Forbes Magazine reported that the Yankee franchise was worth approximately $1.6 billion, more than twice any other team. This was one year after the New Yankee Stadium opened on April 2, 2009.

2014 – Yangervis Solarte, Yankees’ third baseman, became the first player in MLB history to hit 6 doubles in his career’s first seven games.

2015 – The New York Yankees play the longest game in franchise history. The date was April 10, 2015, in a game the Yankees lost to the rival Boston Red Sox after 17 innings that took six hours and 49 minutes. It was called by many, the game that never ended.

Many of the facts for this article come from Nationalpastime.com. EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Yankees Top 10s: The best Yankee acquisitions in modern times

In my New York Yankees top 10 series that has covered most aspects of Yankee baseball, today we take a look at the top 10 Yankee acquisitions in the modern era.  These acquisitions come from both signings and trades.  The Yankees have had many star players that were homegrown and had to look outside their farm system to fill various needs.  Owner George M. Steinbrenner was the first owner to make big moves and set the tone for acquisitions for the future.  This has been the most difficult to complete top 10s so far.  I am sure many will disagree with the placements, however, with the Yankees now looking to acquire players to improve the team, it seemed appropriate to examine these past acquisitions.

10. Ricky Henderson

Henderson was one of the longest-tenured players, playing for 25 years, 5 of them with the Yankees.  During his five years, he stole 326 bases, making him the all-time base stealer for the Yankees. He hit .288 and had 78 home runs during the span while having an excellent fielding percentage in all areas of the outfield.  He was an All-Star every year he was a New York Yankee.

9. CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia was instrumental in the Yankees winning their last World Series in 2009.  Sabathia came to the Yankees from the Milwaukee Brewers. In his eleven years with the Yankees, he had a record of 134 and 88.  During the Yankees’ years, he was a workhorse, always giving his best effort for a win.

8. Masahiro Tanaka

Brian Cashman brought Masahiro Tanaka to the Yankees from the Eagles of the Japanese league in 2013 in a seven-year contract that will end this season, whether there is one or not. During his time with the Yankees up to this year, he is 75-45 with a 3.75 ERA. Tanaka has never had a losing season with the Yankees.

7. David Wells

The highlight of David Wells’s career was his perfect game on May 17, 1998, the tenth no-hitter in Yankee history.  Wells for the Yankees was 34-14 in his two-year stint; that’s a .706 winning percentage, one of the best for the Yankees. Wells pitched 21 years all in the American League.

Wells was quite a character that didn’t care much for rules.  He has admitted he pitched his perfect game while nursing a bad hangover. In 1998 he would help the Yankees with his 18-4 record and propelled them to the World Series shut out of the San Diego Padres.

6. Reggie Jackson

Yankee owner George M. Steinbrenner made Reggie Jackson the highest-paid baseball player when he hired Jackson from the Baltimore Orioles. Jackson was a controversial player as he was a bit of a show-off, and Manager Billy Martin didn’t want the Yankees to hire him.  It didn’t help when he was quoted as saying, “I’m the straw that stirs the drink,” a phrase that he never said but caused a rift with Yankee catcher Thurmon Munson.

In his five years with the Yankees, Jackson had many memorable moments, including his three home runs that caused him to be called “Mr. October.” In 1977 in the sixth game of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees outfielder Reggie Jackson hit three home runs off three consecutive pitches from three different pitchers. Jackson batted .284 with 144 home runs while a Yankee.

5. Mike Mussina

On this list, Mike Mussina is the one player that often flew under the radar. Mussina, after being a Baltimore Oriole star pitcher, became a New York Yankee.  He never had a losing season in his eight years with the Yankees, winning 10 or more games every year.  Mussina was not only an outstanding pitcher, but he was an excellent defender as any pitcher ever to grace the mound.

On some writer’s top 10 lists, they don’t even include Mussina.  For the Yankees, he was Mr. Steady is one of the Yankee’s most dependable pitchers during his time with the Yankees.  The brilliant Stanford grad, with a thinking pitcher that adjusted to every situation.  His performance never diminished with age. In the last year of his career, he had his first 20 win season, becoming the oldest pitcher to have a 20 win season.

For his pitching with both the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees on January 22, 2019, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, receiving 76.71% of the vote.  Mike has the distinction of being the first American League pitcher to win ten or more games in each of 17 consecutive seasons.

4. Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez is a controversial New York Yankee, to say the least.  Many fans cite his performance-enhancing drugs while with the Texas Rangers and tend to ignore his performance with the Yankee club. But the facts are still the facts.  During his 22 years playing the game, he was one of the best in either league.

For his 12 years with the Yankees, he hit 30 home runs a year, with 1,100 RBIs while hitting .283. He was a seven-time All-Star and a seven-time MVP candidate, winning the prestigious award twice.  He would be a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame if it were not for his drug use, which most likely will never come to fruition.

I have to admit that I am a writer that does not place as much importance on drug use as many writers do.  My stance is that dozens if not hundreds of other players, used some doping during that period that was never caught; thus, many stats may be in question.  In the case of Rodriguez, his career wouldn’t have been less impressive even if he hadn’t made the bad decision to break the rules.

3. Paul O’Neill

Paul O’Neil played for only two teams in his baseball career, nine years with the Yankees in the second half of his career.  At the end of the 1992 season, the Red traded O’Neill outright for Yankee outfielder Roberto Kelly. In his first year, he batted .311 with 20 home runs and 75 RBIs.  O’Neill played with such vigor that owner George M. Steinbrenner would give him the nickname the “Warrior,” which stuck.

In his second year, he got the AL batting title batting .359.  If O’Neill missed a hit he thought he should have gotten, batting racks and water coolers often felt his wrath.  Stick Michael made the trade that would change the face of the Yankees for years to come.  Paul made amazing plays in defending the right field. He played fiercely and hurt; he was the ultimate warrior the Yankee fans loved.

2. Roger Clemens

The acquisition of Roger Clemens was one of the best the New York Yankees ever made. In 1996 the Yankees sent Graeme Lloyd, David Wells, and Homer Bush to the Toronto Blue Jays for their ace pitcher Clemens. In his first year with the Yankees, he helped them win the 1999 World Series. In 2000 he almost single-handedly retook them to the World Series with his 20-3 season.  The Yankees would win that series as well. Clemens was never fully embraced by Yankee fans due to his long tenure with the Boston Red Sox.

Also, in 2000, Roger would win the prestigious Cy Young Award at the age of 38.  Roger is one of the longer-tenured pitchers in baseball, pitching for 24 years.  With the Yankees, he would win twice as many games as he lost.  He went 83-42 in his six years with the Yankees for a .664 winning percentage.  It is outrageous that this 3 time Cy Young Award isn’t in the Hall of Fame.  This year he received 72.5% of the votes compared to the 75% needed to be inducted.  He has two years left of eligibility.

1. Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth isn’t a modern era Yankee acquisition but must be included in the list as the best move the Yankees ever made in procuring him from the cash strapped Boston Red Sox.  Following Ruth becoming a Yankee, he transformed himself into a great hitting outfielder. He really made his name with the Yankees as one of the best if not the best player to ever play baseball.

Honorable mentions:

David Cone, Starky Lyle, Roger Maris, Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher.

Gerrit Cole could not be included for the Yankee top 10s as he hasn’t had a long enough time or games thrown to prove he belongs on this list. However, he has to be mentioned as he may be in the future proclaimed one of the best Yankee acquisitions in history; only time will tell.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.  Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Yankees Top 10s: A history of great Yankee left-fielders

New York Yankees, Yankees, Hideki Matsui

The New York Yankees in their 107-year glorious history have had their share of great baseball players.  From Babe Ruth to Joe DiMaggio to Ron Guidry, Derek Jeter, and dozens more, some of the best baseball players in history have graced Yankee Stadium.  In my other top ten columns, I’ve dealt with the pitchers, catchers, baseman, right fielders, and centerfielders.

In this installment, I will attempt to identify the great Yankee outfielders.  With so many great outfielders, some writers will differ with the order of their preferences.  Here are this writer’s top 10.  Identifying the top 10 is a bit more complicated with left fielders as they tend to play other positions as well.  But here goes:

10.  Yogi Berra

Based on the whole of his New York Yankee career Yogi Berra should be higher on this list.  However, Yogi surprisingly did play in left field for the Yankees.  Although he was known mostly as a catcher, his career batting average of .285 while hitting 358 home runs and 1,430 runs batted in, land him on this list.  Yogi Berra has the distinction of having earned the most World Championship rings (10) than any other Yankee.

9.  Gene Woodling

Gene Woodling played for the New York Yankees (1949–54).  Although he played all over the outfield, he was mostly known for his excellent defense in left field.  He was fast and had a great range.  Woodling played in left field for four Yankee Championship seasons from 1950-1953.  Although he never played more than 125 games in a season in left has kept him on the lower part of the list.  He also was not one of the best Yankee hitters.  One thing that held him down on this list was manager Casey Stengel’s tendency to platoon players.

8.  Tim Raines

Tim Raines was with the Yankees from 1996 to 1999, he played about 50 games a year in the Yankees left field during that span.  He was a great outfielder but what puts him on this list is his Yankee career batting average of .299.  Although he is best known for his 13 years with the Montreal Expos, he was fast and agile footed for the Yankees making many near impossible catches for the Yankees. Raines was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.

7.  Hideki Matsui

Hideki Matsui is the first Yankee that was truly a great left fielder for the New York Yankees.  Matsui was acquired from Japan’s for NPB’s Yomiuri Giants after playing ten years for them.  Matsui played seven years for the Yankees five of them in left field before he became a DJ due to injury. In his seven years, he had a career batting average of .292. On May 6, 2007, Matsui recorded his 2,000th hit between the teams.  He had a habit of hitting home runs on his birthday.  On June 12, 2008, he hit a Grand Slam, and on the same day in 2009, he hit a 3 run homer. In the 2009 World Series, “Godzilla” batted .615 with 3 home runs and 8 runners batted in which earned him the Most Valuable Player Award.

6.  Lou Piniella

Pinella known as sweet Lou.  He played in the Yankee left field for most of eleven years.  Not many balls got past Piniella, in his Yankee career he had a .989 fielding percentage. Although Lou was not a home run hitter, he had a career batting average of .291.  He hit 148 doubles while with the Yankees.  Fans immediately embraced him when he came from the Kansas City Royals to the Yankees.  Lou Piniella captured two World Series Rings with the Yankees in 1977 and 1978.  Piniella seemed to shine in the postseason.  He batted .305 in postseason play and hit 3 postseason home runs.  Lou would go on to be the New York Yankee manager from 1986 to 1988.

5.  Bob Meusel

Bob Meusel is often an unsung Yankee.  He played for the Yankees for 10 of his 11-year baseball career. He played left field more than any other position, 626 games for the Yankees. But he alternated between left and right, and never actually played 100 games in left in any single season.  Besides his stellar defense, Meusel was known as a hitter. The three-time MVP nominee hit .309 batting for the Yankees.  His best year for the Yankees was 1925 when he hit and unheard of at the time. 33 home runs and had 134 runs batted in. He helped the Yankees to their first-ever World Series Championship and another in 1927 and 1928.

4.  Dave Winfield

The giant of a man Dave Winfield came to the New York Yankees when owner George M. Steinbrenner went out and got him from the free agency from the San Deigo Padres.  Winfield would have a remarkable 22-year career in the majors, nine of them with the Yankees.  The 6′ 6″ left fielder was extremely fast for a big man in the left field at Yankee Stadium.  During his nine years with the Yankees, he batted .290 with 205 home runs.   Unfortunately for Winfield, his time with the Yankees was not always pleasant.  Steinbrenner was dismayed that he gave Winfield such a lucrative contract and withheld payments to his charity that was part of that contract. Winfield never played in a World Series for the Yankees as he played during their 17-year drought. Winfield was installed into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

3.  Roy White

Roy White was one of the best left fielders in all of baseball. White played for the Yankees between 1965 and 1979, his fifteen-year tenure manning left field for the Yankees allowed him to leapfrog a few on this list. He was a two-time All-Star and a four-time MVP candidate. His 1521 games in left field at Yankee Stadium makes number one in games played in left field.  White has the misfortune to play with some pretty poor Yankee teams during the CBS ownership.  He did win two World Series after Steinbrenner revitalized the team in 1977 and 1978.  Roy was a quiet man and a gentleman who just went about his business with little fanfare.  During his time with the team, he was one of the most popular Yankee players.

2.  Charlie Keller

If I woke up on the other side of the bed today, I might have put Charlie Keller as number one on this list. Charlie Keller played left field for 874 games, scattered over 13 seasons, all with the Yankees.  The sure-footed Keller played excellent defense in left with a .988 fielding percentage while hitting .286 with 189 home runs.  He had constant peak performance throughout his career except for the last two years after returning from back surgery.  Keller was also the second longest-tenured left fielder in Yankee baseball history. He was a five-time All-Star and an MVP candidate four times.  From 1939 to 1952.  One distinction that Charlie has is that he holds eight World Series wins, second only to Yogi Berra. Keller is one of the most overlooked players, not having made the Baseball Hall of Fame.

1.  Babe Ruth

Yes, surprisingly, number one of the list is Babe Ruth. I say surprisingly because he is known more as a right fielder and first baseman.  He was a better hitter than a left fielder.  He had a very satisfactory fielding percentage of .968 but hot as good as a few others on this list.  But his longest tenure than any Yankee on this list and his far and away better hitting ability catapults him to the top of this list.  In Babe’s career with the New York Yankees resulted in a batting average of .342 with 659 home runs and just shy of 2,000 runs batted in.  Although Ruth played more games in the right field, he played more seasons in the left field.  From 1914 to 1935, Ruth helped the Yankees to four World Championships.  Babe Ruth is known as the best baseball player ever to play the game was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 as one of the first five inaugural entrants.  Of any Yankee player, Ruth was more than a baseball star; he was a cultural hero during the great depression when the nation needed hope, Ruth provided that hope.

Honorable mentions go to Tom Tresh, Ben Chapman, Willie Cree, Jake Powell, Mickey Mantle, and Ricky Henderson.  Reggie Jackson and Roger Maris never played left field for the Yankees.

In selecting my top ten, I valued time with the club, performance as per Baseball-Reference.com.  Peak career performance and performance in postseason play was also a factor.  Special situations like changing career positions were also a consideration.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam

 

New York Yankees Top 10’s: The Yankees top right-fielders throughout history

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

This is another installment of my top 10 New York Yankees series, I give my choices for the top 10 Yankee right fielders of all time.  The Yankees, in their glorious history, have many of the best players ever to play in their positions in the history of MLB.  Previous installments have featured the top ten pitchers, catchers, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd baseman. With so many good players and different ways of measuring greatness, different writers may have different rankings, these are mine.

10.  Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge has only played for the Yankees for five years but has racked up a batting average of .272 with 268 runs driven in, and 119 home runs, plus another 11 long balls in postseason play.. Considering his excellent stats, his defense is even better.  He has a rocket of an accurate arm, making many difficult plays look easy.  In future years he could easily rank considerably higher on this list.  The only thing that might prevent that is his frequent injuries. 2017 was his best year with the Yankees, since then his injuries have prevented him from greatness.

9. George Selkirk

Many Yankee fans may not know the name of George Selkirk, but he played for the New York Yankees between 1934 and 1942, playing his entire career for the Yankees. Selkirk was an excellent fielder and hit a .290 batting average for the Yankees with 576 runs batted in. His fielding percentage was .976, which was excellent for that time.

8. Gary Sheffield

Gary Sheffield could have been higher on this list. However, he only played three years with the Yankees. Sheffield was a menacing figure at the plate. In his three years, he hit .291 with 269 RBIs and 76 home runs. Sheffield, like Aaron Judge, had a cannon for an arm. He made spectacular plays, often hitting the right-field wall. He had a remarkable 22-year career in the outfield. He played for the Yankees between 2004 and 2006.

7. Hank Bauer

Hanke Bauer is often an underrated right fielder. He played for the Yankees between 1948 and 1959. During that time, he hit .277 with 654 runs batted in and 158 long balls. He was one of the Yankee’s most contact hitters of his time. In 12 years with the Yankees, he hit an average of 110 hits a year for a total of 1326 hits. He was a five-time MVP candidate during the span.

6. Lou Piniella

Lou Piniella was one of the most popular New York Yankee players in the 1970s and ’80s. He spent eleven years with the Yankees hitting .295 with 417 RBIs. Piniella was not a home run hitter but had 971 hits in his Yankee tenure. He was a magnificent arm in the outfield. Piniella had a vast knowledge of the game and went on to be the Yankee manager from 1986 to 1987. He also managed the Mariners, Cubs, Rays, and the Reds. He returned to manage the Yankees for the second time in 1988.

5. Roger Maris

Roger Maris is a famous Yankees that is often overrated due to his record 61 home runs in 1961. What is overlooked is that he was an outstanding right fielder. His fielding percentage was .978. He hit .265 with 541 runs batting while getting 203 home runs. He was an MVP in the right-field and an MVP in centerfield as well in 1961. He is one of a very few Yankees to win the MVP award several times. Maris, who came from the Athletics but his seven years with the Yankees, were his best years. After leaving the Yankees, he quickly faded away.

4. Dave Winfield

The hulking Dave Winfield was another Yankee that was a fan favorite. However, he didn’t have the best relationship with the New York Yankees’ primary owner George Steinbrenner and regularly fought with him. Winfield came to the Yankees from the San Diego Padres in 1981 and hung around until 1990. During that time, he hit .290 with 818 runs batting in and 205 home runs. His 1300 as a Yankee was part of a career that produced 3,110 hits. While with the Yankees, he was an All-Star eight times and a five-time Gold Glover in right-field. Dave was a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

3. Reggie Jackson

George Steinbrenner, who was not shy when spending money, reached out into the new free-agent market and acquired Reggie Jackson from the Baltimore Orioles for just short of $3 million in 1976.  Jackson would later say:

“It was like trying to hustle a girl in a bar,” the flamboyant Jackson said about Steinbrenner’s efforts after he signed a five‐year contract with the Yankees said to be worth $2.9 million. “Some clubs offered several hundred thousand dollars more. possibly seven figures more,‐ but the reason I’m a Yankee is that George Steinbrenner outhustled everybody else.”

It was a cheap buy for Steinbrenner as Jackson turned out to be George’s best purchase.  However, Jackson was a controversial player with the Yankees; some loved him, some hated him.  That includes manager Billy Martin, catcher Thurman Munson, and Steinbrenner himself.  There were often fights for power amongst the three.  From Jackson in dugout fights with Martin and his hitting three homers in one game, he always wanted to be in the spotlight.

Regardless of what negative views fans of others had of him, he deserved the praise.  During his five years with the New York Yankees, he hit .281 with 144 home runs.  He had a 900 OPS.  He also had a .980 fielding percentage in right field for the Yankees.  Reggie was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

2. Paul O’Neill

Paul O’Neill is unsung and unrewarded as a Yankee right-fielder, and many sportswriters would put him down a few notches on this list. But this writer feels he is one of the best players ever to grace the right-field at Yankees Stadium.  His batting average of .303 over nine years with the Yankees speaks for itself.  He hit for power, he hit for contact, and was the ultimate team player.  He consistently did what was needed to help his team.

O’Neill played for the Yankees from 1993 to 2001, he was part of four Yankee World Series Championships and contributed to all of them. During his time, the “Warrior” had 858 RBIs and hit 185 home runs while hitting nearly 1,500 hits.  Paul will probably not reach the Hall of Fame for his lack of home runs, but for his time with the Yankees, he owned the fans.  In his last game as a Yankee in 2001, it was the ninth inning, from the entire stadium all you hear for the whole inning was “Paulie” clap, clap, clap, clap, Paulie, clap, clap, clap, clap.

 

Since retiring from baseball, he has become an integral part of the YES Network broadcasting and analyzing Yankee games.

1.  Babe Ruth

There is not enough space in this article to talk about the achievements of Babe Ruth, he is not only my pick for the best New York Yankee right-fielder but for the best baseball player ever.  In what was called the worst trade in baseball history, Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, being short on money, traded Babe Ruth away to the Yankees for $100,000 the day after Christmas in 1919.

Ruth would spend the next fifteen years with the Yankees.  Over the period he had a batting average of an incredible .349, with 659 home runs.  There was no other hitter like him then and since then.  He had a fielding percentage that averaged .965, which for that time was very good.  Ruth was an All-Star and a most valuable player back when awards weren’t as common as they are today.  Being a pitcher for the Red Sox, he even pitched to a winning percentage of 1.000 with a record of 5-0.

In his 15 years with the Yankees, Ruth helped the team win seven American League (AL) pennants and four World Series championships.  In 1936 Ruth was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of its “first five” inaugural members.

 

Honorable mentions go to Jessie Barfield, Willie Keller, Tommy Henrich, and Giancarlo Stanton.

In selecting my top ten, I valued time with the club, performance as per Baseball-Reference.com.  Peak career performance and performance in postseason play was also a factor. Special situations like changing career positions were also a consideration.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

 

This Day in Yankee History: The Greatest Baseball player Babe Ruth dies

New York Yankees, Babe Ruth

George Herman “Babe” Ruth born in 1895, is the greatest Yankee baseball player to have ever to play the game. He would go on to hit 714 home runs, 2,213 RBI’s, over 2,000 bases on balls, with a slugging percentage of .690 and an OPS of 1.164, two records that still stand today. He was not only a great baseball player but still, today stands as one of America’s greatest sports icons in American culture.

So goes the story of the real Babe Ruth that few know about. Ruth was born in Baltimore Maryland. With his father working long hours in his saloon and his mother often in poor health, Little George (as he was known) spent his days unsupervised on the waterfront streets and docks, committing petty theft and vandalism. Hanging out in his father’s bar, he stole money from the till drained the last drops from old beer glasses, and developed a taste for chewing tobacco. He was only six years old.

Having been declared incorrigible at the age of seven by the Baltimore courts, his parents sent him to St. Mary’s Industrial School. After a month passed they brought him back home to see if he had changed and reconciliation could be achieved, he hadn’t and it would lead to several attempts by his parents. in 1904 at the age of nine, Ruth would meet the Roman Catholic Brother Matthias at St. Mary’s. Later in life when asked about Brother Matthias, Ruth would say. He changed my life, “He taught me to read and write and he taught me the difference between right and wrong, He was the father I needed and the greatest man I’ve ever known.”

Ruth would end up living his young life at the school until the age of eighteen. During that time his mentor would throw balls at the boys to catch. Young George was thrilled to catch and throw the ball. He imitated the Brother’s hitting style, holding the bat at the knob and taking big swings.

As he grew older he began to actually play baseball at St. Mary’s. In one St. Mary’s game in 1913, Ruth, then 18 years old, caught, played third base (even though he threw left-handed), and pitched, striking out six men, and collecting a double, a triple, and a home run. That summer, he was allowed to pitch with local amateur and semipro teams on weekends. Impressed with his play a Baltimore scout Jack Dunn signed Ruth to his minor-league Baltimore Orioles club the following February. The Orioles short on money sold the young Ruth to the Boston Red Sox.

During the offseason, Babe married his girlfriend Boston waitress Helen Woodford. In the following season, he shined for the Sox, winning three complete games in a span of nine days in June. Between June 1 and September 2, Ruth was 13-1 and ended the season 18-8. The personality of the younger Ruth began to show it’s head as he caroused at night and began to argue with umpires.  In his six seasons with Boston, he won 89 games and recorded a 2.19 ERA. He had a four-year stretch where he was second in the AL in wins and ERA behind Walter Johnson, and Ruth had a winning record against Johnson in head-to-head matchups. But also during the time, he fought with management and was as a headache. His continued outright refusal to adhere to the team’s curfew earned him several suspensions and his non-stop salary demands infuriated owner Frazee.

Just after New Year’s 1920, the worst deal in Major League history would be made. The Boston Red Sox would sell Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $100,000. Frazee would comment that Ruth was one of the most selfish and inconsiderate men that ever wore a baseball uniform. He also said Ruth ate and drank excessively, frequented prostitutes, and had been involved in several car accidents. It would have surprised no one if, for whatever reason, Ruth was out of baseball in a year or two. It was a gamble that the Yankees were will to take.

While Babe Ruth was with the Yankees he broke every record in baseball. He became an American Icon and a part of American culture. In his fifteen years with the Yankees alone, hit scored nearly 2,000 runs and 2,000 RBI’s.  He also hit 659 home runs.

In 1928 the Yankees got the AL pennant. The Yankees swept the Cardinals that year and Ruth hit 54 home run on the year. During this time, the Yankees were known as Murderers’ Row, because of the power of its lineup, In January 1929, Babe’s first wife, Helen, died in a house fire in Watertown, Massachusetts.

At the end of the 29 season, Miller Higgins passed away and Ruth applied for the job but was never seriously considered for the job. By the end of June 1930, Ruth was ahead of his 60-homer pace of 1927, but injuries slowed him down and he finished with 49. In 1931, at age 36, Ruth had one of his finest seasons. He hit .373/.495/.700, with 46 home runs, 162 RBIs, 128 walks, and 149 runs scored. The Yankees swept the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series, giving them wins in 12 straight World Series games. For the previous few years, Ruth’s hard living and injuries were catching up with him.

In 1934 due to his declining health and stats Yankee’s owner Ruppert gave Ruth a pay cut of 50%., Ruth accepted knowing his 20-year career was coming to an end. On July 13 against the Detroit Tigers, Ruth would hit his 700th home run. Ruth had always wanted to be a manager, So Yankees manager Ruppert worked out a secret deal with Boston Braves manager to offer Ruth a contract would include the titles of Assistant Manager and Vice President. When Ruth would present the deal to the Yankees owner, he said he wouldn’t stand Ruth’s way, so Ruppert’s trick worked.

In 1935 with the Braves, Ruth would play in only 28 games batting .181. Ruth did get the final three home runs of his career that year. Ruth is the only major leaguer to pitch in at least 10 seasons and have a winning record in all of them. Ruth had winning records in 10 seasons: 1914-1921, 1930 and 1933. Andy Pettitte now holds the record at 13 seasons (1995-2007). Ruth concluded he was finished even as a part-time player. As early as May 12, he asked Fuchs to let him retire, Ruth retired on June 2 after an argument with Fuchs.

On an afternoon in 1945 wearing a brand-new Gems jersey with a bright red baseball cap and matching stockings, the 51-year-old Ruth managed to hit off a handful of home runs before the game, much to the delight of everyone in attendance at Hartford, Connecticut’s Buckeley Stadium. His game-time performance, however, resulted in a handful of unexciting balls and strikes while at-bat. Later he would tell reporters “Some days the pitches look like watermelons and other days like peanuts.” No one would know it at the time but it would be the last time Ruth would ever wear a baseball uniform.

A few months later he was diagnosed with advanced esophageal cancer in 1946 and died from the disease in 1948. A living legend took the plate for the last time in front of thousands of adoring fans that September in Connecticut history. Such was the life of George Herman “Babe” Ruth.

On this day, August 16, 72 years ago, the “Babe” passed away. A requiem mass and funeral for the Babe was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral three days later.  6,000 mourners bowed their heads as Cardinal Spellman made a special prayer at the end of the solemn 1-hour service. 75,000 people waited outside the Cathedral in the pouring rain to say goodbye the greatest baseball player of all time.