7 New York Yankees that should be in the Hall of Fame but aren’t, what do you think?

The New York Yankees history is riddled with great players, many of which have a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Names like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Frank “homerun” Baker, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, and so many more. The most recent inductees are #2 Derek Jeter and of course Mariano Rivera, the first player ever to be enshrined unanimously. But even with all these many Yankee fans think that their favorite player should be in the Hall as well. Today we look at just seven of those that are usually mentioned as snubbed of the ultimate recognition.

Graig Nettles: Career bWAR 68.0. A third baseman was one of the best to man the hot corner ever, making impossible play after impossible play. He was as slick as they come. He was a steady hitter with all of his five teams, the Twins, Indians, Yankees, Braves, and Expos. He won two Gold Glove awards at third base and appeared on six All-Star teams. His slash line of .248/.329/.421 with a 110 OPS+ across his career would be the lowest if ever selected, but his 390 home runs were the third-best in baseball history for a third baseman. “Puff” helped the Yankees to titles in 1977 and ’78. Nettles’ glovework in Game 3 of the 1978 Fall Classic against the Dodgers remains one of the most recognizable exhibitions of game-winning defense ever. He was the 1981 AL Championship MVP.

As I said, Nettles had the third most home runs of any owner of the hot corner in all of baseball. He is only behind Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews, both of whom are enshrined in Cooperstown. Nettles has appeared on five Hall of Fame ballots, the most votes he received from the writers was in 1994 with 8.3%. There is a very strong case for him being in the Hall of Fame, what do you think?

Thurman Munson Career bWAR 46.1. Munson was one of the best Yankees catchers of all time, next to Bill Dickie and Yogi Berra. It appears his injuries that led him to only be with the Yankees for eleven years. It is something that the writers can’t forgive because he has been kept out of the Hall of Fame. Munson hit .271 with the Yankees and drove in over 700 runs. He was a warrior playing through several injuries until he was killed in his own plane while at home in Ohio. Most Yankee fans think the writers should put aside their belief that he didn’t play long enough and enshrine him. What do you think?

Andy Pettitte Career 60.7 bWAR. Few pitchers have ever reached the heights that Andy Pettitte did in the postseason. He was one of the most reliable big-game performers of his era, Pettitte was a five-time World Champion with the Yankees and a three-time All-Star. He joined Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada as members of the “Core Four.” Pettitte pitched to a 256-153 record with a 3.85 ERA (117 ERA+) across his career. That includes a three-year stint with the Astros from 2004-06. He returned to the Yankees in 2007, having winning seasons in all six remaining years. He was 14-8 during the Yankees’ last World Championship season in 2009.

He is one of six pitchers to win 250 games that are not in the Hall of Fame. This big difference with Pettitte is that he is the most winning pitcher to ever pitch in the postseason. He has 19 postseason wins. In 2020 he achieved 11.3% of the vote, far below what is needed, but this tremendous success in the postseason is sure to keep him in the conversation for years to come. What do you think?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaoyULBUQUc

Alex Rodriguez Career bWAR 117.5. A-Rod completed his 22-year career with 696 home runs, fourth all-time behind Barry Bonds (762), Henry Aaron (755), and Babe Ruth (714). His WAR alone states that he should already be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. He was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player who collected 3,115 hits, Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star, 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and two-time Gold Glove winner. For the Yankees, he played twelve years in pinstripes from 2004. With the Yankees, he had a .283/.378/.523 slash line with 351 homers, 1,096 RBIs, a 136 OPS+, and 54.0 bWAR while winning his only World Series title in 2009.

Rodriguez is on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2022. This marks a candidacy that presents an opportunity for voters to weigh his best in baseball stats against a suspension related to performance-enhancing drug use that cost Rodriguez the entire 2014 season. His candidacy will test the writer’s will when it comes to drug-related stats.

Roger Clemens Career bWAR 138.7. The “Rocket” was the best pitcher of his era. He won 354 games in the majors during his remarkable 24 years while with four MLB teams. He was a seven-time Cy Young Award winner which should be an automatic entry to the Hall of Fame, but he, like Alex Rodriguez, has a tainted career due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs. In 2020 he had his best showing, just falling short of enshrinement with 61% of the vote. Since first named in a report that he took drugs, Clemens has consistently and defyingly denied using PEDs.

He spent the second most years of his career with the New York Yankees. During that time, he amassed an 83-42 record with an ERA of 4.01 in 175 games with three complete games. In wins, he ranks 12th all-time and sixth among current Hall of Famers. What are your feelings? 

 

Bernie Williams Career bWAR 49.6. In his sixteen years with the Yankees, he had a career batting average of .297 with 287 home runs with 1597 RBIs. Williams was the center fielder during the height of the Yankees’ dynasty from 1996-to 2003; the Bronx Bombers won 4 World Championships and six pennants during those eight seasons. William was often overshadowed by the “Core 4” of Pettitte, Rivera, Jeter, and Posada but was every bit as important to the Yankees in those championship years. There is a strong case for Williams being in the Hall of Fame, but the writers have scrubbed him off the list. He now becomes eligible for The Today’s Game Committee, which is one of the modern incarnations of Veterans Committee, the Hall of Fame’s “second chance” selection process. He will become eligible in 2023. Williams was a five-time All-Star, a six-time MVP candidate, and a four-time Gold Glover.

Don Mattingly Career BWAR 42.4. “Donnie Baseball” was one of the greatest hitters in baseball during his time. He spent all of his fourteen years in baseball with the New York Yankees. He was one of the best defenders at his position throughout his career. His career slash line was .307/.358/.471/.830. A .307 batting average over fourteen years is an amazing stat when you consider that there are dozens in the Hall with a much lower batting average.

The former Yankees great seemed to be well on his way to earning a place in Cooperstown in the late 1980s before a back injury derailed his career. Playing just fourteen years seems to cast doubt over his candidacy. After retiring following the 1995 season at the age of 34, Mattingly went on to receive just 28.2% of the vote in his first year on the ballot in 2001. He received enough votes to remain on the ballot for the maximum years but has never again reached that 28.2%. Working against Mattingly is the fact that the last several years of his career were nothing like his previous years due to a congenital disk deformity. He also was never on a World Series-winning team.

New York Yankees History: The day America cried, the Yankee fans applauded for 14 minutes (video)

This is the tragic story of New York Yankee’s catcher Thurman Munson who died in a plane crash in August of 1979.

Thurman Munson is the only baseball player in the history of the game to win the title of College All-American, MLB Rookie of the Year, receive the MVP award, Gold Glove awards, be a seven-time All-Star, and win World Championships. Munson was one of the most popular players on Yankee teams for eleven years. He was the heart and soul catcher for the Yankees between 1969 and his untimely death in 1979.

Munson was born in Akron, Ohio and was the youngest of four siblings. At the age of eight, his family moved to Canton. He learned to play ball with the help of his older brother Duane. He always played ball with older kids that were three or four years older than he. He was a talented athlete, and that was exhibited in high school where he was captain of the baseball, basketball, and football team. He was all-city and all-state in all three sports. In baseball, Thruman played mostly shortstop but in his senior year switched to catcher. He received a baseball scholarship and attended Kent State University.

In the summer of 1967, I was lucky enough to see Thurman play in the Cape Cod League. I remember him because he was the star of the Chatham A’s, batting .420. Thirty-three years later he would be named to the Cape Cod Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1968, Munson was the fourth round pick of the New York Yankees in the 1968 MLB draft. He only played one year in the minors, hitting a .301 average with six home runs and 37 runs batted in. He made his major league debut in 1969 and had two runs scored in his first game. As a catcher in 1970, he earned the American League Rookie of the Year Award.

In 1971 Munson earned his first All-Star nomination, in the same year that he would have only one error, This same year, Munson would solidify his reputation as an all guts player and a fighter. This is the same year that he was knocked unconscious at the plate for five minutes, he was taken to the hospital but was back in the dugout before the game was over. This was also the year his feud with Boston’s Carlton Fisk started. Gene the “stick” Michael had a failed bunt attempt as Munson tried to score from third, he piled into Fisk and was called out, but remained tangled with Fisk, causing a ten-minute bench-clearing brawl, in which both catchers were thrown out of the game. In the years between 72 and 74, Thurman got more All-Star nods, Gold Gloves, and a Slugger of the Year Award.

In 1975 Munson batted a career-high .318. In 1976 he was made Yankee Captain, the first Yankee Captain since Lou Gehrig retired. He scored 3 runs in the ALCS and batted .529 in the World Series that was lost to the Reds. Munson batted .308 with 100 RBIs in 1977, giving him three consecutive seasons batting .300 or better with 100 or more RBI each year. He was the first catcher to accomplish the feat in three consecutive years since Yankee Hall of Famer Bill Dickey’s four straight seasons from 1936-1939.

In the 1978 ALCS against the Royals Munson hit the longest home run of his career (475′). Munson’s World Series championships in 1977 and 1978 made him only the second catcher in baseball history, at the time, to win a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP Award, a Gold Glove Award, and a World Series title during his career.

In 1979 the battling Munson was beginning to show the wear and tear of being a catcher who played so hard, He was thinking of going to the Indians or retiring after the season. He was an accomplished pilot and owned his own Citation. He would often go home to be with family on days off. On August 9, 1979, on one of those trips home, he was killed practicing touch and go’s at his home airport in Canton. The entire shocked Yankee team including George Steinbrenner, Manager Billy Martin and best friend Bobby Mercer would attend his funeral. The baseball commissioner advised George not to let the team go, as if they weren’t back in time for that night’s game they would have to forfeit. George said if we forfeit we forfeit, we are going. Munson’s funeral was delayed by 30 minutes while thousands waited in the streets for the Yankees to arrive in their chartered plane.

Best friend Bobby Mercer gave an emotional eulogy to his friend at the funeral. It was obvious to all that upon leaving the funeral both Murcer and Martin were visibly shaken. The Yankees did get back to the stadium in time for their game.

Billy Martin didn’t want Bobby to play as he was still shaken by the day’s events. Bobby insisted on playing. Murcer practically won the game single-handedly, bringing the Yankees back from a 4–0 deficit with a 3-run homer in the 7th, then hitting a walk-off 2-run single down the left-field line in the bottom of the 9th, causing Howard Cosell to exclaim what a heroic performance Murcer had put on. Murcer never used the bat from the game again and gave it to Munson’s widow, Diana Munson who takes the place of Thurman during every Old Timer’s Day celebration.

Before the Baltimore Orioles game at Yankee Stadium on the day after Munson’s death the New York Yankees and its fans, over 51,000 strong celebrated his life in a standing ovation that lasted nearly fourteen minutes. New York Cardinal Cooke said a prayer and asked for a moment of silence. Robert Merrill Yankee number 1 1/2 sang America the Beautiful. All the field players were in their place except for the catcher’s position which remained empty during the ceremony. George Steinbrenner immediately retired his number 15 with a plaque in Monument Park. Munson’s locker remained in place until the old Yankee Stadium was torn down. It was moved wholly to the new Stadium where it sits today in the Yankee Museum.

Some say the fan applauded for eight minutes, it was more like 14 minutes. EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

 

New York Yankees: Yankee history, The life of Thurman Munson

On August 9, 1979, the baseball world was shocked as the Yankee faithful cried over the loss of their first Captain in 40 years, catcher Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash!

Thurman Munson is the only baseball player in the history of the game to win the title of College All-American, MLB Rookie of the Year, receive the MVP award, Gold Glove awards, be a seven-time All-Star and win World Championships. Munson was one of the most popular players on Yankee teams for eleven years. He was the heart and soul catcher for the New York Yankees between 1969 and his untimely death in 1979.

Munson was born in Akron, Ohio, and was the youngest of four siblings. At the age of eight, his family moved to Canton. He learned to play ball with the help of his older brother Duane. He always played ball with older kids that were three or four years older than he. He was a talented athlete, and that was exhibited in high school, where he was captain of the baseball, basketball, and football team. He was all-city and all-state in all three sports. In baseball, Thurman played mostly shortstop but, in his senior year, switched to catcher. He received a baseball scholarship and attended Kent State University.

In the summer of 1967, this writer was lucky enough to see Thurman play in the Cape Cod League. I remember him because he was the star of the Chatham A’s, batting .420. Thirty-three years later, he would be named to the Cape Cod Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1968 Munson was the fourth-round pick of the Yankees in the 1968 MLB draft. He only played one year in the minors, hitting to a .301 average with six home runs and 37 runs batted in. He made his major league debut in 1969 and had two runs scored in his first game. As a catcher in 1970, he earned the American League Rookie of the Year Award.

In 1971, Munson earned his first All-Star nomination, in the same year that he would have only one error, This same year, Munson would solidify his reputation as an all guts player and a fighter. That is the same year that he was knocked unconscious at the plate for five minutes, he was taken to the hospital but was back in the dugout before the game was over. This was also the year his feud with Boston’s Carlton Fisk started. Gene the “stick” Michael had a failed bunt attempt as Munson tried to score from third, he piled into Fisk and was called out, but remained tangled with Fisk, causing a ten-minute bench-clearing brawl, in which both catchers were thrown out of the game. In the years between 72 and 74, Thurman got more All-Star nods, Gold Gloves, and a Slugger of the Year Award.

In 1975, Munson batted a career-high .318. In 1976 he was made Yankee Captain, the first Yankee Captain since Lou Gehrig retired. He scored 3 runs in the ALCS and batted .529 in the World Series that was lost to the Reds. Munson batted .308 with 100 RBI in 1977, giving him three consecutive seasons batting .300 or better with 100 or more RBI each year. He was the first catcher to accomplish the feat in three consecutive years since Yankee Hall of Famer Bill Dickey’s four straight seasons from 1936-1939. In the 1978 ALCS against the Royals Munson hit the longest home run of his career (475′). Munson’s World Series championships in 1977 and 1978 made him only the second catcher in baseball history, at the time, to win a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP Award, a Gold Glove Award, and a World Series title during his career.

In 1979, the battling Munson was beginning to show the wear and tear of being a catcher who played so hard, He was thinking of going to the Indians (where he would be close to family) or retiring after the season. He was an accomplished pilot and owned his own Citation. He would often go home to be with family on days off. On August 9, 1979, on one of those trips home, he was killed practicing touch and go’s at his home airport in Canton. The entire shocked Yankee team, including George Steinbrenner, Manager Billy Martin, best friend Bobby Mercer, and other players would travel to Ohio to honor Munson and support his wife, Diana. The baseball commissioner advised George not to let the team go, as if they weren’t back in time for that night’s game, they would have to forfeit. George said if we forfeit, we forfeit we are going. Munson’s funeral was delayed by 30 minutes while thousands waited in the streets for the Yankees to arrive in their chartered plane.

Munson’s best friend, Bobby Mercer, gave an emotional eulogy to his friend at the funeral. It was obvious to all that upon leaving the funeral, both Murcer and Martin were visibly shaken. The Yankees did get back to the stadium in time for their game. Billy Martin didn’t want Bobby to play as he was still shaken by the day’s events. Bobby insisted on playing. Murcer practically won the game single-handedly, bringing the Yankees back from a 4–0 deficit with a 3-run homer in the 7th, then hitting a walk-off 2-run single down the left-field line in the bottom of the 9th, causing famed commentator Howard Cosell to exclaim what a heroic performance Murcer had put on. Murcer never used the bat from that game again. He gave it to Munson’s widow Diana.

Diana Munson takes the place of Thurman during every Old Timer’s Day celebration at Yankee Stadium. His locker at the stadium remained empty until the old Stadium was torn down.  When the new Yankee Stadium was built, Munson’s locker was picked up in its entirety and moved to the new stadium where it sits in the same position as it had in the old stadium. Thurman was true Yankee great.  Munson was on the Modern Era Committee’s list for nomination to the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time last year.  Many Yankee fans believe Munson would have been in the Hall of Fame if he had not lost his life, shortening his career.

Upon the death of superstar Kobe Bryant, Diana Munson said: “I pray she is surrounded by love.”  Munson pointed out several similarities between Bryant and Munson, including being superstars, the love of their families even to having their own aircraft so they, despite their sports commitments they could still spend as much time at home as possible.   The parallels were eerie as they both died in their own aircraft.   She ended the telephone interview by saying: “I wish I could hug her (Venessa Bryant), and tell her everything is eventually gonna be okay, you have to take it day by day and let the memories you and the fans have sustain you.’’

This Day In New York Yankees History: Thurman Munson Passes From Plane Crash

Thurman Munson was one of the best to ever wear pinstripes. Born on June 7th, 1945, Munson played 11 years with the New York Yankees where he racked up a total of seven All-Star games while batting a career .292 with 113 total home runs (Baseball Reference).

In his rookie season, Munson batted .302 where he only fanned 56 times in 526 plate appearances. He racked up a total of 137 hits with 54 runs batted in and 6 home runs. Because of his significant first year, Munson was selected as the Rookie of the Year. Known for his stellar defense, Munson also won the Gold Glove Award in three consecutive years (1973-1975).

Munson was considered as the “heart and soul” of the Yankees, so he was selected as the team’s captain. In his time being the captain, Munson led the Yanks to three World Series where they won twice (1976, 1977, 1978).

During an off day in the season of 1979, Munson was practicing flying his plane – a Cessna Citation I/SP jet. He purchased this plane so he would be able to fly home to his home in Canton, Ohio on off-days. On August 2nd, 1979, Munson took out his plane with his friend and flight instructor, Jerry Anderson and Dave Hall. Munson was attempting to complete the final landing of the day where while descending, he let the jet fly too low where he hit a tree which caused the plane to burst into flames. Hall and Anderson both survived the accident however, Munson suffered a broken neck. Asphyxiation due to the toxic substances of the fire ultimately caused Munson’s death. 

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Thurman Munson will forever be remembered as one of the greatest Yankees. Rest in peace, Capt!