New York Yankees Top 10s: The ten most iconic moments at Yankee Stadium

New York Yankees, Mariano Rivera

In their 112-year history, the New York Yankees have had many of the best players in the game, many of which are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. But always front and center was the famed Yankee Stadium, “The house that Ruth Built.”

Today we look back in my newest Yankee top 10 articles to pick the most iconic moments at Yankee Stadium. Of course, these are arbitrary, and many will disagree with my choices. That’s okay, as there are far more stunning moments at the Stadium in the Bronx.

Opening of the new old Yankee Stadium 1923

The house that Ruth built finally became a reality when in 1923, the New York Yankees opened their own Stadium where history would be made for the next 85 years. The Yankees started as the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore in 1901. In 1903 they would move the team to New York City. The team first played at Hilltop Stadium downtown. Then they played at the Polo Grounds until 1922, when they built the new Stadium in the Bronx. During that time, Babe Ruth had become the best player in the game, filling the stands and allowing the Yankees to build their first Stadium.

Lou Gehrig makes his famous speech in 1939

Lou Gehrig was one of the finest ballplayers to ever play for any team. Although he would eventually win every accolade the game can give, luck was not on his side. In 1939 after realizing he could no longer play due to the ALS disease that was ravaging his body, he gave the most iconic speech ever spoken at any baseball field. It is still referred to be the most famous baseball speech ever. It was on July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, when the longtime Yankee first baseman uttered the famous words at a home plate ceremony at Yankee Stadium: “For the past two weeks, you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Gehrig died of the disease that now bears his name, “Lou Gehrig Disease,” on June 2, 1940.

Don Larsen has the first-ever no-hitter in World Series 1956

In a record that still stands average pitcher, Don Larsen threw the first no-hitter in history to be accomplished in a World Series game. On Monday, October 8, 1956, in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, pitcher Don Larsen of the New York Yankees threw a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League at Yankee Stadium. It was the first postseason no-hitter since Claude Grier did it in the 1926 postseason. Larsen’s perfect game is the only perfect game in the history of the World Series, it was the first perfect game of any kind thrown in 34 years and is one of only 23 perfect games in MLB history. 

Roger Maris makes history with number 61 1961

1961 was an exciting year for New York Yankee fans, it was the year of the M&M boys, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, as they fought all season long to see who would end up beating Babe Ruth’s record for 60 home runs. Near the end of the 1961 season, Mantle’s health issues allow Maris to overtake him. On October 1, 1961, Maris hit his 61st home run, hitting just one more than Babe Ruth. The more popular Mickey Mantle ended the season with 54 long balls.

Chris Chambliss causes the best kind of riot (1976)

On a cold New York Yankees autumn night on October 14, 1976, the fifth game of a winner take all ALCS game, the game would be at a standstill in the bottom of the ninth. Kansas City relief pitcher Mark Littell would be taking warm-up tosses, Yankee public address announcer Bob Sheppard was cautioning the crowd of over 58,000 about throwing debris onto the playing field. Meanwhile, Yankee first baseman Chris Chambliss waited in the cold. Finally, at 11:13 PM, Chambliss stepped into the batter’s box, and home-plate umpire Art Frantz yelled play ball. Littell would throw Chris a high fastball that Chambliss would smash over the right-field wall for a walk-off win and one of the most iconic moments in baseball history, as the Yankee fans emptied the stands and filled the fields.

Reggie Jackson becomes Mr. October (1977)

In yet another example of a Yankee moment seemingly scripted by a famous writer, Reggie Jack Jackson managed three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 Fall Classic. It caused the Yankees to win their first World Series title in fifteen years. Those home runs cemented Reggie Jackson in the history books and his place in New York Yankees lore. After the game, he was dubbed “Mr. October.”

Bobby Murcer drives in five in honor of Thurman Munson 1979

1979 was a sad year for the New York Yankees, as they lost their iconic catcher Thurman Munson to the crash of his own plane in Ohio. On the day of his funeral, the Yankees attended his funeral in Ohio under the threat of having to forfeit their game later than night. The Yankees made it back in time for the game at Yankee Stadium. During that game, Bobby Murcer managed to play in the game and be impactful under the duress of having spoken at Munson’s funeral. Manager Billy Martin suggested Bobby sit out given the circumstances, but Murcer insisted on playing in honor of his fallen friend. Bobby single-handedly erased a 4-0 Baltimore lead by hitting a 3-run shot in the 7th and a two-run walk-off single down the left-field line. New York won 5-4.

Famous Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera stands alone 2011

During 2011 Mariano Rivera recorded his 602nd save. Urged by his teammates to soak up the moment, Rivera stood alone on the mound, celebrating his place as the game’s all-time saves leader. Rivera, in his humble ways, tipped his cap to the fans, and both teams looked on. Rivera surpassed Trevor Hoffman by recording his 602nd save, dispatching all three Twins he faced. Rivera even shattered a bat with his trademark cutter, later calling the moment “priceless.” Rivera would retire with 652 saves, plus a record 42 more in the postseason. He became the first player ever to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously in 2019. He said in his acceptance speech, “I would love to be remembered as a player who was always there for others. ” In another iconic moment for “Mo” in his final game, his best friends Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter came onto the field to take the ball from Rivera, he broke down in Pettitte’s arms and was saluted by both teams as he made his final exit.

Yankee Stadium tries to heal America 2001

America and the world were still in shock after the horrible terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The Yankees resumed their season on the road in Chicago on September 18 and did not return home until September 25, an absence of 16 days. This first game after the attacks at Yankee Stadium was dripping with emotion. Before the game, there was a 30-minute ceremony. Many in the announced crowd of 33,777 were late entering the ballpark. There was an increased police presence, and fans were screened as they entered the ballpark. They had even checked Yankees manager Joe Torre’s bags. The ceremony included the then-mayor of New York Rudy Giuliano and other prominent stars, including Bette Midler and Michael Bolton. Branford Marsalis played taps while members of the New York Police and Fire Departments stood along the baselines. Tenor Ronan Tynan offered a stirring rendition of the National Anthem. Later in the game, members of the Fire Department sang a rendition of “God Bless America.” The Yankees lost the game to the Rays, but the Boston Red Sox lost their game to Baltimore, retaining the Yankees 13 1/2 game lead in the AL East.

Derek Jeter goes out in style 2014

More than any other Yankees player, Derek Jeter had enough iconic moments in his career to fill his own top 10 moments. Still, none could duplicate Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium, not even the flip or the crash into the stands. In his final game in pinstripes, Jeter exited a winner at home, showing off his trademark inside-out swing to lace a walk-off single and sending home the deciding run in a 6-5 victory over the Orioles. Jeter raised his fists, securing a Hollywood conclusion after he had already doubled and driven in a go-ahead run earlier in the contest, only for closer David Robertson to permit three runs in the ninth. Announcer Michael Kay called the walk-off win “where fantasy meets reality.” Just one more moment when Derek Jeter rose to the occasion.

Honorable mentions:

A-Rod drives in 10 runs in one game (2005), Derek Jeter has 3,000 hits (2011), Mariano Rivera’s final gaem “exit the Sandman (2013), Yankees christen new Yankee Stadium (2009), three Grand Slams in one game (2011), Guidry strikes out 18 (1978), Babe Ruth traded to the New York Yankees (1919).

Continuing, Allie Reynolds has two no-hitters in the same season (1951), and the Yankees win their first World Series (1923). The one-handed Jim Abbott makes history with a no-hitter (1993), George Steinbrenner was honored during the All-Star game 2008. There is no question that the winningest team in all of the sports has no shortage of iconic moments for the Yankees and Yankee Stadium.

 

New York Yankees Top 10s: The Yankees most notable home runs throughout history

The New York Yankees are the winningest baseball team with the most World Championships in all sports with 27. In baseball, part of winning is hitting home runs, and the Yankees have hit plenty. Today we look at my selection for the ten most influential home runs in Yankee history. This is part of my Top 10 series that covers everything in Yankee baseball, from the best seasons to the best outfielders and more.

10. Bucky Dent gives the Yankees the lead over the Red Sox

In 1978, Bucky Dent and Ron Guidry stepped up to lead the Yankees past the Red Sox and into the playoffs. One measly game at Fenway Park determined whether Dent and the 1978 Yankees would continue their season. That time it wasn’t a playoff game, but rather a 163rd regular-season game as a tiebreaker made necessary. Dent’s seventh-inning, two-out, three-run homer off Mike Torrez sealed the deal for the Yankees, and they advanced to the postseason. The Yankees won that series four games to two over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

9. Did Babe Ruth call that shot?

Number 9 is controversial as to this date no one knows if Babe Ruth really called that home run. The “Bambino” supposedly pointed to the center-field fence at Wrigley Field in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, calling that he would hit a home run to center field, much to the joy of Yankee fans, he did just that. In a recently uncovered audio from Lou Gehrig, he seems to agree that he did, in fact, point out that he would hit a home run.

8. Mikey Mantle dents the facade

On May 22, 1963, it was looking like another Yankees romp over the Kansas City Athletics as they led by the score of 7-0 going into the eighth inning. Much to the chagrin of Yankees fans, the Athletics hit seven unanswered runs in the ninth inning, tying up the game. The tie remained until the bottom of the eleventh inning when Mickey Mantle took to the plate. Bill Fisher on the mound, Mantle swung so hard at his first pitch he fell to the ground. Fischer then tried to sneak a fastball by him, and Mickey unleashed a powerful blast at just the precise moment, with his bat speed at its maximum, the ball was hit off the sweet spot of Mantle’s bat, the ball looked as if would be the first ball ever to exit Yankee Stadium, but it hit the third tier facade 370? from home plate and 118? Off the ground for game-winning, walk-off home run. 

7. The “Babe” hits his 60th

On September 30, 1927, Babe Ruth hits his 60th home run of the 1927 season and, with it, sets a record that would stand for 34 years. No one had ever before hit 60 home runs in a single season. The record would hold up until Roger Maris would beat it in 1961.

6. Roger Maris tops baseball with his 61st

My number six and another baseball first and first for the Yankees. Roger Maris exceeded Babe Ruth’s home run record with 61 home runs. During 1961 it was a season for the M&M boys as Maris and Mickey Mantle raced to have the most home runs of the season. Mantle came close, but injuries at the end of the season allowed Maris to pass him. Maris hit 61, and Mantle hit 53 long balls.

5. Reggie Jackson named Mr. October

The Yankees faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1977 World Series. New York headed back to the Bronx for Game 6 with a 3-2 lead. Jackson had caught fire, clobbering home runs in Game 4 and Game 5. He was as hot as ever. Jackson would give the Yankees the lead with a big bomb in the fourth inning. He would hit another home run in the fifth inning to right field. Then in the eighth inning Jackson the show off he was strutted to the plate and hit his third home run of the game, a blast that seemingly never landed. The Yankees won the World Series four games to two. After the game, in an interview with catcher Thurman Munson, the told reports ask Mr. October, the rest is history.

4. Jim Leyritz kicks off a dynasty

On Oct. 23, 1996, the Yankees had not won a World Series since 1978. On that day up stepped a backup catcher named Jim Leyritz, with just a stick for Mark Wohlers’ nuclear fastball. He hung the slider. And Leyritz hammered it out of the Atlanta Braves park. The Yankees won the World Series and would go on to win four in just five years. It is said that Leyritz fueled that dynasty.

3. Chris Chambliss struggles to get to home plate

On a cold New York Yankees autumn night on October 14, 1976, the fifth game of a winner take all ALCS game, the game would be at a standstill in the bottom of the ninth. Kansas City relief pitcher Mark Littell would be taking warm-up tosses, Yankee public address announcer Bob Sheppard was cautioning the crowd of over 58,000 about throwing debris onto the playing field. The game had already been stopped several times for bottles, firecrackers, beer cans, and rolls of toilet paper being thrown from the stands. 

Meanwhile, Yankee first baseman Chris Chambliss waited in the cold. The delay prevented Littell from staying loose and interfered with his rhythm. Finally, at 11:13 PM, Chambliss stepped into the batter’s box, and home-plate umpire Art Frantz yelled, “Play ball” Littell would throw Chris a high fastball that Chambliss would smash over the right-field wall for a walk-off win and one of the most iconic moments in baseball history, as the Yankee fans emptied the stands and filled the fields.

2. Aaron Boone settles it at Fenway Park

Aaron Boone is the present Yankees field manager, but he was not unknown to Yankee fans before he took the managerial job. In 2003 the Yankees met the Red Sox in the ALCS. In the American League Championship Series, the Yankees and Boston Red Sox were tied, 3-3. Boston hasn’t won a World Series since 1918, still plagued by the Curse of the Bambino. Red Sox fans were ready for a game 7 win ending the drought. Aaron Boone had other ideas. The game was tied at five into the eleventh inning. Boone stepped to the plate with Tim Wakefield on the mount. Wakefield offered Boone a floater that Boone sent just inside the left-field foul pole, and the Yankees advanced to the World Series that they lost to the then Florida Marlins 4 games to 2.

1. Babe Ruth baptizes the new Yankee Stadium

Babe Ruth made a lot of money for the New York Yankees allowing them to move out of the Polo Grounds and build their own stadium in the Bronx. As if a forerunner for the Yankees 27 World Championships, Babe Ruth hit a home run in his second at-bat on the opening day of the new stadium. It was April 18, 1923. The Yankees gave the official attendance that day as 74,200 but later amended that number to 62,200. Ruth with his second opportunity of the day to deliver the desired blow. He fouled off Red Sox pitcher Howard Ehmke’s first pitch, took a ball, hit another pitch foul, and watched ball two go by. Then Ehmke left a letter-high curveball over the plate that Ruth ripped several rows up into the bleachers for a three-run blast that gave the Yankees a 4-0 lead. This is just one more reason that Yankee Stadium was called the “House that Ruth built.”

Honorable mentions: Bobby Mercer on the day that Yankee great Thurman Munson (1979) was put to rest, Mercer homers for the Yankee win and his passed best friend. Lou Gehrig had a four-homer game on June 3, 1932.

New York Yankees Legend Chris Chambliss and his iconic walk-off

On a cold New York Yankees autumn night on October 14, 1976, the fifth game of a winner take all ALCS game, the game would be at a standstill in the bottom of the ninth. Kansas City relief pitcher Mark Littell would be taking warm-up tosses, Yankee public address announcer Bob Sheppard was cautioning the crowd of over 58,000 about throwing debris onto the playing field. The game had already been stopped several times for bottles, firecrackers, beer cans, and rolls of toilet paper being thrown from the stands.
Meanwhile Yankee first baseman Chris Chambliss waited in the cold. The delay prevented Littell from staying loose and interfered with his rhythm. Finally, at 11:13 PM, Chambliss stepped into the batter’s box, and home-plate umpire Art Frantz yelled “Play ball.” Littell would throw Chris a high fastball that Chambliss would smash over the right-field wall, for a walk-off win and one of the most iconic moments in baseball history, as the Yankee fans emptied the stands and filled the fields.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfrKPr89igs
There were so many people on the field and blocking home plate that Chambliss wasn’t actually sure he stepped on the plate. Discussing it with Graig Nettles, Nettles suggested he go back out and step on the home plate so that the umpires wouldn’t say he missed the plate, and not count the run. Chambliss borrowed a police raincoat as a disguise and returned to the filed and stepped on home plate, that sealed the deal.
Carroll Christopher Chambliss was born on December 26, 1948, in Dayton, Ohio. Chris was the third son of Reverend Carroll and Christine Chambliss. Being a Navy Chaplain they lived in several cities, finally ending up in Oceanside, California, where Chris attended high school, playing both shortstop and first base on the varsity baseball team. He and his three other brothers attended Mira Costa Jr. College. In 1967 and 1968 he would be drafted by the Reds, but instead attended UCLA. There he played for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots, helping the team capture the National Baseball Congress Championship, which culminated with a 5-1 win over Liberal, Kansas. Chris hit .583 during the NBC Tournament and was named the Most Valuable Player.
In the January 1970 draft, the Cleveland Indians picked Chris with the first pick in the first round and assigned him to their affiliate in Wichita of the American Association, Cleveland’s top farm team. Chris earned Rookie of the Year honors while at Wichita, becoming the first freshman to win the batting title, posting a .342 average. He would make his major league debut in 1971, and in 111 games hit would bat to a .275 average with nine home runs. After two more successful seasons with the Indians he would be traded to the Yankees, after seventeen games at the start of the 1974 season after hitting .328 so far that year. While with the Yankees Chambliss would be an excellent defender at his position on first and a Gold Glover.
In 1976 and 1977 he would hit 17 home runs and be an All-Star and two-time MVP nominee for the New York Yankees. 1976 was also the year in the postseason that he hit his famous walk-off homer. 1976 is also the year that George Steinbrenner would bring pitcher Don Gullett, Bucky Dent, Oscar Gamble, and Reggie Jackson to the team. Jackson was signed against manager Billy Martin’s objections. Martin was noticeably absent when the Yankees introduced Jackson to the press. At one time Martin would say Jackson may be Mr. October, but Chris Chambliss is Mr. Season. The Yankees would win the ALCS from Kansas City and the World Series from the Dodgers in 1977 and in 1978.
After the 1979 season, the New York Yankees would be looking for a qualified catcher to replace Thurman Munson that had died in a plane crash and would trade Chambliss to the Atlanta Braves where he would play out the last seven years of his 17-year career while being an MVP nominee once again. He finished his Yankee career hitting .282 with 79 home runs and 454 RBI’s.
Chris now 72, and his wife Audry reside in Alpharetta, Georgia. They had a son Russell who played in the Yankee farm system until he quit to become a teacher. Chris was a hitting coach for a time with the Atlanta Braves. in 1989 he became manager of the double-A London Tigers. He had been considered several times to manage in the majors by the Mets, Dodgers, White Sox, and the Diamondbacks, but was never hired. He finished his career in baseball coaching for the Seattle Mariners in 2012 at the age of 64. He will be forever remembered for the blast that emptied the stands at Yankee Stadium.

New York Yankees History: It was a cold October night when Yankee fans poured onto the field

On a cold New York Yankees autumn night on October 14, 1976, the fifth game of a winner take all ALCS game, the game would be at a standstill in the bottom of the ninth. Kansas City relief pitcher Mark Littell would be taking warm-up tosses, Yankee public address announcer Bob Sheppard was cautioning the crowd of over 58,000 about throwing debris onto the playing field. The game had already been stopped several times for bottles, firecrackers, beer cans, and rolls of toilet paper being thrown from the stands, all while Yankee first baseman Chris Chambliss waited in the cold. The delay prevented Littell from staying loose and interfered with his rhythm. Finally, at 11:13 PM, Chambliss stepped into the batter’s box, and home-plate umpire Art Frantz yelled “Play ball.” Littell would throw Chris a high fastball that Chambliss would smash over the right-field wall, for a walk-off win and one of the most iconic moments in baseball history, as the Yankee fans emptied onto the field.
https://youtu.be/NfrKPr89igs
There were so many people on the field and blocking home plate that Chambliss wasn’t actually sure he stepped on the plate. Discussing it with Graig Nettles, Nettles suggested he go back out and step on the home plate so that the umpires wouldn’t say he missed the plate, and not count the run. Chambliss borrowed a police raincoat as a disguise and returned to the filed and stepped on home plate, that sealed the deal.
Carroll Christopher Chambliss was born on December 26, 1948, in Dayton, Ohio. Chris was the third son of Reverend Carroll and Christine Chambliss. Being a Navy Chaplain they lived in several cities, finally ending up in Oceanside, California, where Chris attended high school, playing both shortstop and first base on the varsity baseball team. He and his three other brothers attended Mira Costa Jr. College. In 1967 and 1968 he would be drafted by the Reds, but instead attended UCLA. There he played for the Anchorage Glacier Pilots, helping the team capture the National Baseball Congress Championship, which culminated with a 5-1 win over Liberal, Kansas. Chris hit .583 during the NBC Tournament and was named the Most Valuable Player.
In the January 1970 draft, the Cleveland Indians picked Chris with the first pick in the first round and assigned him to their affiliate in Wichita of the American Association, Cleveland’s top farm team. Chris earned Rookie of the Year honors while at Wichita, becoming the first freshman to win the batting title, posting a .342 average. He would make his major league debut in 1971, and in 111 games hit would bat to a .275 average with nine home runs. After two more successful seasons with the Indians he would be traded to the Yankees, after seventeen games at the start of the 1974 season after hitting .328 so far that year. While with the Yankees Chambliss would be an excellent defender at his position on first and a Gold Glover.
In 1976 and 1977 he would hit 17 home runs and be an All-Star and two-time MVP nominee for the New York Yankees. 1976 was also the year in the postseason that he hit his famous walk-off homer. 1976 is also the year that George Steinbrenner would bright pitcher Don Gullett, Bucky Dent, Oscar Gamble, and Reggie Jackson to the team. Jackson was signed against manager Billy Martin’s objections. Martin was noticeably absent when the Yankees introduced Jackson to the press. At one time Martin would say Jackson may be Mr. October, but Chris Chambliss is Mr. Season. The Yankees would win the ALCS from Kansas City and the World Series from the Dodgers in 1977 and in 1978.
After the 1979 season, the New York Yankees would be looking for a qualified catcher to replace Thurman Munson that had died in a plane crash and would trade Chambliss to the Atlanta Braves where he would play out the last seven years of his 17-year career while being an MVP nominee once again. He finished his Yankee career hitting .282 with 79 home runs and 454 RBI’s.
Chris now 70, and his wife Audry reside in Alpharetta, Georgia. They had a son Russell who played in the Yankee farm system until he quit to become a teacher. Chris was a hitting coach for a time with the Atlanta Braves. in 1989 he became manager of the double-A London Tigers. He had been considered several times to manage in the majors by the Mets, Dodgers, White Sox, and the Diamondbacks, but was never hired. He finished his career in baseball coaching for the Seattle Mariners in 2012 at the age of 64. He will be forever remembered for the blast that emptied the stands at Yankee Stadium.

 

New York Yankees History: Greatest games, learn the top ten here

Few teams in baseball have had as many exciting, impactful games as the New York Yankees in their 107-year history.  With so many great games to choose from, there are bound to be those that don’t agree with me.  And that’s fine; it’s what denotes a New York Yankees fan, we all have our favorite players, seasons, and yes greatest games.  I have the benefit of being an old Yankee fan who has seen all but two of these games myself.  But I also respect the history of the games that came before me.  Here are my top 10 Yankee games ever.

10.  Yankee Stadium opens, April 18, 1923

After ten years of tenancy at the Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants, the Yankees build their own stadium. The Yankees proved that they had become the gold standard in baseball by building the largest ever built baseball stadium.  The franchise spent less than a year and $2.5 million erecting New York Yankee Stadium, a monstrous palace that housed some 20,000 more seats than the next largest major league facility. None of the Stadium’s 74,000 seats would be empty for the first game ever played there on a crisp, sunny Wednesday afternoon.  The Stadium was known as the house Ruth built. The game that day was against the rival Red Sox.  The Yankees would shut out the Sox 4-0.

9.  Deter Jeter’s trip into the stands, July 1, 2004

In the 12th inning of a tie game against the Red Sox, Trot Nixon popped up down the left-field line. Derek Jeter, in a dead sprint from his shortstop position, made an over the shoulder catch. He had so much momentum that he launched himself over the railing and ended up two rows deep. He emerged with a cut on his chin and blood running from his cheek.  Team trainer Gene Monahan, manager Aaron Boone, and Alex Rodriguez helped Jeter off the field with his parents shocked in the stands. The Yankees went on to win the game in the bottom of the 13th inning on a John Flaherty single.

8.  Aaron Boone the hero, October 13, 2003

Yankee manager Aaron Boone made his mark in New York Yankee history long before he managed his first Yankee game.  Aaron Boone was a trade-deadline acquisition and unlikely playoff hero for the Bronx Bombers. In Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Red Sox, Boone led off the bottom of the 11th inning and sent the first pitch knuckleballer Tim Wakefield threw soaring into the Bronx night for a walk-off homer that sent the Yankees to the World Series for the sixth time in eight years. Boone, an average player, placed his name into the history books that night in Boston.  The Boston Red Sox have a name for Boone, which I won’t repeat here.

7.  Ron Guidry 18 strikeouts, June 17, 1978

On June 17, 1978, Ron Guidry would put his name in the history books by striking out a  Yankee-record 18 batters. Guidry’s 18-strikeout performance is usually cited as the launching pad of the  Yankee Stadium tradition of fans standing and clapping for a strikeout with two strikes on the opposing batter.  After about 12 strikeouts the tension in the stands became papable. For the season, Guidry went 25-3 in a season that is among the top 10 for winning percentage in all of baseball history. He led the league with a 1.74 ERA, a .893 winning percentage, nine shutouts, and 248 strikeouts. Guidry’s success during 1978 was due in large part to his mastery of the slider. His 248 strikeouts set a Yankees’ team record for most strikeouts notched by a pitcher in a single season.

6.  Babe Ruths called shot, October 1, 1932

Babe Ruth was seldom intimidated by any player or pitcher, and such was the case on October 1, 1932.  On that night Ruth, who self-assuredly looked to the Chicago Cubs bench and pointed a finger toward the mound. Charlie Root, the Cubs pitcher, with two outs, remembered Ruth saying, “You still need one more, kid.” Others insist he was pointing to the center field to let everyone know where the next pitch would be hit.

There was no argument over what happened next. Ruth crushed Root’s next pitch exactly where he had allegedly predicted it would go, to Wrigley Field’s center-field bleachers. As he circled the bases, Ruth waived off the Cub bench, which even after the monster blast was riding him hard. If that didn’t quiet the Cubs, Gehrig followed next with a home run of his own, the Yankees were on their way to a 7-5 win and a four-game sweep of the Cubs.

5. Roger Clemens one-hitter, October 14, 2000

There is no way to describe Roger Clemens’s pitching performance on October 14, 2000, then to say it was surrealistic. It was Oct. 14, 2000, in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Seattle Mariners. Playing on the road, New York Yankees pitcher Clemens tossed a complete-game, one-hit shutout and struck out 15 batters. For any other franchise, what Clemens did would easily be considered the best pitching performance in team postseason history.  But for the Yankees, his day was second only to Don Larsen, who pitched first-ever World Series perfect game in 1956.

4. Roger Maris hits #61, October 1, 1961

The New York Yankees 1961 season was all about the M&M boys.  Roger Maris and Micky Mantle were going deep all season long at record rates. As the end of the season came closer, they were closing in on one of baseball’s most hallowed records: Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record of 60 in 1927. To the eyes of the omnipresent Gotham media, Mantle was the hero in pursuit, Maris the relative villain—the young Midwesterner who hated the big city atmosphere of New York, the new kid in town who hadn’t plied his trade long enough in pinstripes.  Maris didn’t have a good relationship with the press, which didn’t make his relationship with the fans any better.  As the end of the season progressed, Mantle became injured, and Maris overtook him.  On October 1, 1961, Maris, would hit his record 61st home run, beating out Babe Ruth.  However in the midseason seeing that a home run race was in progress, Commissioner Ford Frick decreed that, because of the American League’s increased 162-game schedule, any recordset after the 154th game—the old season standard—would be denoted in the record book with a “distinctive mark,” an asterisk.

3. Don Larsen’s Perfect Game, October 8, 1956

Don Larsen was not one of the greatest Yankee pitchers, in fact, he’s probably not in the top twelve. But he does have a claim to fame for the Yankees and all of baseball. He is the only pitcher to have a perfect game in the World Series. On October 8, 1956, Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series history. It was game 5 of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen needed just 97 pitches to complete the perfect game, and only one Dodger batter (Pee Wee Reese in the first inning) was able to get a 3-ball count.

Brooklyn’s Maglie gave up only two runs on five hits. Mickey Mantle’s fourth-inning home run broke the scoreless tie. The Yankees added an insurance run in the sixth. Throwing fastballs, Larsen got ahead in the count at 1–2. On his 97th pitch, a called third strike by home plate umpire Babe Pinelli Larsen caught Mitchell looking for the 27th and last out. After the pitch, catcher Yogi Berra leaped into Larsen’s arms in celebration, setting up the “everlasting image.” Larsen’s unparalleled game earned him the World Series Most Valuable Player Award and Babe Ruth Award.

2. Reggie’s threesome October 18, 1977

On October 18, 1977, in the sixth game of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees outfielder, Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in a row off of three consecutive pitches from three different pitchers.  The Yankees would end a 15-year championship drought in 1977, but not without enduring through a memorably tumultuous season—and certainly not without first-year New York star slugger Reggie Jackson, the unapologetic ego who was often in the middle of the tumult.  Despite Jackson’s self-serving personality, his three home runs made him a semi-favorite unless Thurmon Munson was on the field.

1. Chambliss Walk Off, October 14, 1977

On a cold autumn night on October 14, 1976, the fifth game of a winner take all ALCS games; the game would be at a standstill at the bottom of the ninth. Kansas City relief pitcher Mark Littell would be taking warm-up tosses, Yankee public address announcer Bob Sheppard was cautioning the crowd of over 58,000 about throwing debris onto the playing field. The game had already been stopped several times for bottles, firecrackers, beer cans, and rolls of toilet paper being thrown from the stands, all while Yankee first baseman Chris Chambliss waited in the cold.

The delay prevented Littell from staying loose and interfered with his rhythm. Finally, at 11:13 PM, Chambliss stepped into the box, and home-plate umpire Art Frantz yelled, “Play ball.” Littell would throw Chris a high fastball that the Chambliss would smash over the right-field wall for a walk-off win and one of the most iconic moments in baseball history, as the Yankee stands emptied onto the field.

There were so many people on the field and blocking home plate that Chambliss wasn’t actually sure he stepped on the plate. Discussing it with Graig Nettles, Nettles suggested he go back out and step on the home plate so that the umpires wouldn’t say he missed the plate and not count the run. Chambliss borrowed a police raincoat as a disguise and returned to the field that was jammed with fans and stepped on home plate, that sealed the deal, and the Yankees won the pennant.  They would go on to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4 games to 2 in the 1977 World Series, their first World Championship in fifteen years.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.