Results tagged ‘ Babe Ruth ’
There was a time when a matchup of the Yankees and the Dodgers in games that count could only occur during the World Series, which happened more often than with any two major league clubs. The Yanks and Dodgers opposed each other in 11 World Series with the Yankees winning eight of them.
Only the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, who have played for the NBA title 12 times, have had more championship series than the Yankees and the Dodgers. For the record, the most such matchups in the NHL have been seven by two sets of teams – the Montreal Canadiens against the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings against the Toronto Maple Leafs – and in the NFL six between the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears. In the Super Bowl alone, the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers played each other three times.
Inter-league play has changed all that for the Yankees and the Dodgers. The two-game series at Dodger Stadium that began Tuesday night marks the fourth in-season encounter by the long-time postseason rivals. The Yankees took two of three games twice before at Dodger Stadium in 2010 and 2004. The only time they have faced each other at Yankee Stadium was June 19 this year in a rainout-forced, separate-admission doubleheader that the teams split.
When the Dodgers left New York that night, their record was 30-40, which had them in last place in the National League West and eight games out of first. Los Angeles has gone 26-8 since then and started play Tuesday night in first place in its division with a 2 ½-game lead. In the 34-game stretch, the Dodgers made up 10 ½ games in the standings. Conversely, the Yankees were 39-33 after the twin bill and in third place in the American League East and 3 ½ games out of first. They have gone 16-18 since and are now in fourth place and 7 ½ games from the top.
In postseason play, the Yankees have a 37-29 record in games – 22-10 at Yankee Stadium, 12-11 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and 3-8 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Yanks won each of the first five times the clubs met in the World Series, in 1941, ’47, ’49, ’52 and ’53 before the Dodgers finally won in 1955.
The Yankees’ 1956 Series victory was highlighted by Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5, the only no-hitter in World Series history. The Yankees are 2-2 in Series against the Dodgers since their move to Los Angeles in 1958. The Yanks were swept in 1963, just one of three times in 40 World Series appearances that they did not win a game (also in 1922 against the Giants and in 1976 against the Reds). The Yankees’ back-to-back World Series titles in 1977 and ’78 mark the most recent instance of back-to-back World Series victories over the same team, the first such occurrence since the Yanks defeated the Dodgers in 1952-53).
Some other nuggets about the two legendary teams:
Babe Ruth’s last job in professional baseball was as a Brooklyn Dodgers coach in 1938. Ruth, who wore uniform No. 3 with the Yankees, donned No. 35 with the Dodgers.
The Dodgers won their only championship in Brooklyn history when left-ander Johnny Podres beat the Yankees, 2-0, in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series at Yankee Stadium.
The Dodgers and Yankees staged an exhibition game May 7, 1959 at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles to benefit Roy Campanella, the former Dodgers catcher who had been paralyzed in an auto accident prior to the 1958 season. This game drew 93,103, the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game until an exhibition game in 2008 between the Dodgers and the Red Sox.
Of the six World Series championships in team history, the only one clinched by the Dodgers on their home field was in 1963, when lefthander Sandy Koufax pitched a 2-1 victory in Game 4 to clinch the sweep of the Yankees.
Drastic times call for drastic measures. The Yankees’ lineup Tuesday night against Rangers righthander Alexi Ogando did not contain Travis Hafner. Surprised? Probably not. The only surprising thing about is that Hafner is a designated hitter only who bats left-handed. If not in the batting order against a right-handed starting pitcher, then when?
Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t hesitate to answer when questioned by reporters at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. “He’s just not being productive,” the skipper said.
The numbers do not lie. After a torrid April in which he batted .318 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 66 at-bats, Hafner cooled off to the point since then of hitting .172 with six homers and 20 RBI in 186 at-bats. Pronk’s batting average is down to .210 while his OPS is below .700 (.699), not a good neighborhood for someone whose contribution is limited to his offense.
Disregarding platoon notions, Girardi went with right-handed-batting Vernon Wells as the DH with another righty swinger, recent Triple A Scranton callup Melky Mesa, in left field. The move had an early payoff when Mesa jump-started the Yankees in a two-run third inning that ended the Yankees’ 14-inning shutout string.
Mesa’s leadoff double, a hard liner to the gap in left-center, was the Yankees’ first extra-base hit in 24 innings coming after 21 consecutive singles. After going so long without extra-base power, the Yankees got another double immediately, by Austin Romine, for their first run of the game. Singles by Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki got home a second run, but Robinson Cano defused the rally by grounding into a double play.
Still, the Yankees ended a 22-inning scoring drought against Texas pitching. According to Baseball Reference.com, the Rangers (after shutting out the Yankees on three hits Monday night and with their June 27 victory at Yankee Stadium with Derek Holland pitching a 2-0, two-hitter) were the first team to throw consecutive shutouts with three or fewer hits in each game against the Yankees since the Red Sox June 21-22, 1916. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that those games were a complete-game no-hitter by Rube Foster and a complete game three-hitter by Babe Ruth, both at Fenway Park.
Wells joined the doubles parade with a leadoff two-bagger in the fourth, his first extra-base hit in 24 at-bats since July 12. He displayed some alert running skills by crossing to third on a flyout to medium center field by Eduardo Nunez and beating a play at home to score on a fielder’s-choice grounder to second base by Brent Lillibridge.
For three nights in Baltimore, the Yankees watched a mirror image of what they were in 2012. The Yankees pummeled clubs last year with 245 home runs. The Orioles of 2013 are on such a pace. With three more bombs Sunday night in a 4-2 victory, the Orioles raised their season HR total to 115, the most in the major leagues.
By contrast, halfway through their season the Yankees have 81 home runs, the last of which was Robinson Cano’s 17th of the year, a solo shot in the sixth off Chris Tillman (10-2), who gave up one other run in six innings on a bases-loaded walk to Brett Gardner in the second and earned his seventh straight victory.
Cano’s jack got the Yankees to 3-2, but the Orioles got an insurance run in the seventh. Kuroda gave up a single to Matt Wieters and a double to J.J. Hardy before coming out for Boone Logan, who kept the damage to a minimum by yielding one run on a sacrifice fly by Brian Roberts.
Baltimore simply out-muscled the Yankees in the series, the first time they were swept in a three-game series at Camden Yards since April 15-17, 2005. The O’s out-homered the Yanks, 7-1, in the series with Chris Davis, the major-league home run leader with 31, leading the way with three. The first baseman’s leadoff homer in the second inning was one of three long balls given up by Hiroki Kuroda (7-6), who was also taken deep by Manny Machado in the first inning and Nate McLouth in the third.
Machado had two other hits, including his 38th double following McLouth’s blast. Machado and Davis are trying to pull off a tandem effort that has not been accomplished since the Yankees’ Murderers’ Row days. In 1927, Babe Ruth led the majors in home runs with 60 and teammate Lou Gehrig in doubles with 52. Davis and Machado are leading in those categories at this point.
Jim Johnson picked up his 28th save of the year and 100th of his career, which tied him with Stu Miller for third place on the franchise list behind all-time leader Gregg Olson (160) and runner-up Tippy Martinez (105). Johnson is the seventh active major-league pitcher to record 100 saves with his current club, joining the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera (634), the Tigers’ Jose Valverde (119), the Carlos Marmol (117), the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel (112), the Brewers’ John Axford (106) and the Indians’ Chris Perez (106). Six other active pitchers have recorded 100 or more saves with a club other than their current team – Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Papelbon, J.J. Putz, Heath Bell and Joakim Soria. Since the start of 2012, Johnson has 78 saves, 13 more than any other reliever. Of course, that is due in part because Rivera was out most of the 2012 season because of a knee injury that required surgery.
The sweep ended a dismal June for the Yankees, who had an 11-16 record and were outscored, 122-88, during the month. The Yankees batted .223 as a team in June and averaged 3.26 runs per game, which put pressure on a staff that pitched to a 4.38 ERA during the month. The rotation was 8-15 with a 4.66 ERA.
The Yankees have lost five straight games for the third time this year as the clock is still ticking on Joe Girardi’s 600th managerial victory. Their other five-game losing streaks were May 26-30 to the Rays (1 game) and the Mets (4) and June 11-15 to the Athletics (3) and Angels (2). The loss Sunday dropped the Yankees into fourth place in the American League East, just two games ahead of the last-place Blue Jays.
Since their highpoint of the season after the games of May 25 when the Yankees had a 30-18 record, they are 12-21 and have lost 7 ½ games in the standings, going from first place with a one-game lead to fourth place and 6 ½ games from the top and four games from the second wild-card berth.
July will have to be much better for the Yankees.
One of the nice things about Sunday’s annual reunion known around Yankee Stadium as Old-Timers’ Day was watching Mariano Rivera, 43 but not yet an old-timer, connect with so many of the veterans who took part in the event. This is Mo’s final season in the majors and he is taking a stop-and-smell-the-roses approach to every day of the year.
So as the collection of former Yankees standouts from different eras made their way onto the field for practice before the three-inning exhibition game, Rivera made the rounds and talked to nearly every one of them. There were stars from the 1950s (Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Dr. Bobby Brown, Jerry Coleman, Don Larsen), the 1960s (Bobby Richardson, Joe Pepitone, Hector Lopez, Mel Stottlemyre, Gene Michael), 1970s (Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella, Roy White, Bucky Dent, Mickey Rivers), 1980s (Willie Randolph, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Steve Balboni, Lee Mazzilli) and 1990s (Paul O’Neill, David Cone, David Wells, Bernie Williams, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez). Each and every one received a handshake and a kind word from Rivera.
I was chatting in the Yankees dugout with former manager Stump Merrill when Mo sauntered over. Stump is on the mend from surgery for prostate cancer and was in great spirits. Mo got into the conversation and talked about his rehab from knee surgery last year. I kidded him about his being on the field with all the old-timers and that he was really a year early.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, you won’t be eligible for this game until next year when you’re officially retired,” I said.
“Oh, I won’t be coming back next year,” Rivera said.
“How come?” I wanted to know.
“That will be too soon,” he said. “That is why I am doing all these things at the different parks all year. This is the time for that. Next year will be all my time, time for my family, time to do many things I could not do because I was playing all summer. Maybe in two or three years I would like to come back. I have always enjoyed this day.”
It is a special day to savor and, frankly, it is now unique. When I first started covering baseball in the 1970s, most clubs held Old-Timers’ Days. The Yankees started the tradition in 1947 with a salute to Babe Ruth the year before he died. His memorable speech cemented the event as something to do on an annual basis. Joe DiMaggio’s relatively early retirement (he was 37 when he called it quits) helped keep the day special because so many Yankees fans looked forward to seeing him come back each year, put on a uniform and swat line drives. The same thing occurred for the next generation with Mickey Mantle and so on to the present.
Old-Timers’ Day is now strictly a Yankees event. Even the appearance of widows is a Yankees tradition, beginning originally with Claire Ruth and Eleanor (Lou) and continuing with Arlene (Elston) Howard, Jill (Billy) Martin, Diana (Thurman) Munson, Helen (Catfish) Hunter and Kay (Bobby) Murcer.
Other clubs such as the Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants and Cubs occasionally bring back old favorites for some special celebration but not as an annual exercise.
Nobody does it better than the Yankees.
The recent “problem” that manager Joe Girardi had of having to make four outfielders fit into three spots went away Friday night but not the way the Yankees manager would have wanted. The return of Curtis Granderson created the musical chairs situation in the Yankees’ outfield, but he is headed back to the disabled list.
Granderson, who played right field at Tropicana Field in a unit that also had Vernon Wells in left and Brett Gardner in center, was struck by a pitch from Tampa Bay lefthander Cesar Ramos in the fifth inning and sustained a fracture of the small finger on his left hand. Ichiro Suzuki, the odd man out of the starting lineup Friday night, took Granderson’s place and will likely do so for the next several weeks.
It was the second disabling injury suffered by Granderson this year for being hit by a pitch. On the first offering he saw in a spring training game by Blue Jays lefthander J.A. Happ, Granderson was hit in the right forearm that caused a fracture and kept him out of action for two months and the first 38 games of the regular season.
Granderson batted .250 with 1 double, 1 home run and 1 RBI in eight games and 28 at-bats since he was activated May 13. He played all three outfield positions as Girardi figured out daily who would play where. Now the manager is back to where he was when Granderson was unavailable.
He was not the only Yankees player to be forced from Friday night’s 9-4 victory over the Rays. Winning pitcher David Phelps, who appeared to have strengthened his position in the rotation, took a hard line drive by Ben Zobrist with two out in the eighth inning off his right forearm and had to call it a night. X-rays were negative. Girardi told reporters after the game that Phelps was not hit on a bone and may only have a nasty bruise.
Up to then, it had been a good night for Phelps, who retired the first 13 batters he faced before James Loney doubled with one down in the fifth for the Rays’ first hit. The righthander had a good fastball and was aggressive with it early in the count to put Tampa Bay hitters in a very defensive mode.
Phelps gave up three runs in the sixth, but the Yankees had eight runs by then, so the damage was not threatening. He was touched for another run in the seventh and went on to his fourth consecutive quality start. Over that stretch, Phelps is 2-1 with a no-decision and a 2.63 ERA in 27 1/3 innings in which he has allowed 19 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts.
All this came on a day when the Yankees got some good news on other injured players. Pitcher Ivan Nova came off the DL. First baseman Mark Teixeira (torn right wrist tendon sheath) took part in a simulated game Friday, will play games in the extended spring training at Tampa and will play at Double A Trenton Wednesday and Thursday with the possibility of a return to the Yankees by next Friday at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox.
Nova may have returned to the Yankees’ staff but not the rotation. Lefthander Vidal Nuno will start Saturday against the Rays’ Matt Moore, who has been lights out (8-0, 2.29 ERA) and at 24 is the youngest American League lefthander to start a season 8-0 exclusively as a starter since Babe Ruth with the Red Sox in 1917 at age 22. Nova will be a long man in the bullpen for the time being. The Yankees returned Dellin Betances to Triple A Scranton without his getting into a game since his May 16 recall.
Teixeira’s potential return could affect Lyle Overbay, who has done a splendid job at first base in Tex’s absence. Overbay got the Yankees on the board early with a two-run double in the third. He singled and scored in the fifth as part of the Yankees’ offensive attack from the 6-through-9 hitters who combined to go 8-for-18 (.444) with 6 runs, 1 double, 1 triple and 5 RBI.
Rookie David Adams had two more hits and scored two runs. Jayson Nix singled, tripled and had two RBI, including one on a bases-loaded walk. Chris Stewart, who played for the first time in a week because of a groin injury, had two hits and an RBI and scored a run.
On top of the order, Gardner hit a two-run homer and Robinson Cano got a painful RBI by getting hit with a pitch. Fortunately for Cano, he avoided the dismal diagnosis that befell Granderson.
NASHVILLE – There was good news and bad news for Yankees fans coming out of baseball’s Winter Meetings Monday at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
First, the good news; another person associated with the Yankees was elected to the Hall of Fame. The Pre-Integration Era Veterans Committee elected former club owner Jacob Ruppert to the Hall, along with 19th-century catcher-third baseman Deacon White and umpire Hank O’Day.
Among Ruppert’s many contributions to the Yankees in his time as owner was the design of their pinstriped uniforms, the purchase of Babe Ruth’s contract from the Red Sox and the construction of the original Yankee Stadium, a palace among baseball parks in the 1920s. Ruppert’s nickname was “The Colonel,” even though his time as a colonel in the National Guard was short, certainly less than his four terms as a United States congressman from the Democratic Party.
“The election of Jacob Ruppert to the Hall of Fame is a great honor for the Yankees organization,” managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “Under his leadership, the Yankees became the most popular and successful team in baseball, setting the standard which we try to uphold today.”
Ruppert becomes the 48th individual enshrined in the Hall to have played, managed, coached, owned or been a general manager for the Yankees. He joins Ed Barrow, Larry MacPhail, Lee MacPhail and George Weiss among Hall of Famers who had ownership stakes or were general managers of the Yankees but never played for, coached or managed the club.
The bad news, however, is quite grim. Alex Rodriguez will require surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip and will likely miss at least the first half of the 2013 season. The news, first reported by George King in the New York Post, is a severe blow to the Yankees but also serves to explain in part why the third baseman may have struggled so much during the past postseason when he hit .120 with 12 strikeouts in 25 at-bats.
“I do think that it’s a likely scenario that the struggles we saw in September and in October are more likely than not related to this issue,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said during a press conference here. “Clearly Alex was dealing with an issue that although he might be asymptomatic but the lower half and the way the mechanisms work, he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. There were times that we thought watching him that he was all arms and no legs, but again, there were no complaints, no pain, and then in the playoffs when he got pinch hit for, he did have a complaint that he felt his right hip wasn’t working right, and that was all clear.”
According to Cashman, Rodriguez told manager Joe Girardi in the dugout the night of Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Orioles when A-Rod was lifted for pinch hitter Raul Ibanez, who hit a game-tying home run, that his right hip did not feel right. Rodriguez had an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exam after the game at New York Presbyterian Hospital that did not reveal any damage.
Rodriguez had a checkup during the offseason in Vail, Colo., which showed a tear in the left hip that was confirmed in a second opinion by Dr. Bryan Kelly, who will perform the operation at the Hospital for Special Surgery after A-Rod completes a four- to six-week pre-surgery regimen. The procedure is expected to require four to six months for recovery.
With the surgery likely to be scheduled in January, the earliest Rodriguez could be expected to play would be June and more realistically after the All-Star break in July.
So what do the Yankees do about third base for the first half of next season? Cashman all but ruled out the possibility of Eduardo Nunez playing there (“We see him as a shortstop,” the GM said) and pointed out that the club got through 2012 with several players in left field filling in for injured Brett Gardner.
Jayson Nix, who has re-upped with the Yanks for 2013, could be used in part of a platoon. Eric Chavez, who played in 64 games (50 starts) at the position last season, is now a free agent.
“My sole interest is just improving the entire club,” Cashman said. “Whether we solve any issue specifically at that position of third base, I can’t really answer.”
The 2012 American League Championship Series marks the 15th ALCS for the Yankees, whose record coming into this series is 11-3. This is their 10th ALCS appearance in the past 17 seasons and the third in manager Joe Girardi’s five-season tenure. He also led them into the second round of the playoffs in 2009 and ’10.
The Yankees improved their record to 6-4 in best-of-five Game 5s (4-4 in the AL Division Series Game 5s, plus victories in the 1976 and 1977 ALCS vs. Kansas City when the ALCS was a best-of 5. It went to best-of-7 in 1985). The Yankees are 12-11 in winner-take-all postseason games, 4-6 mark since 1995. Friday’s victory ended a three-game losing streak in such games (losses in 2011 ALDS Game 5 against the Tigers, 2005 ALDS Game 5 at Los Angeles and 2004 ALCS Game 7 against the Red Sox).
The Yankees have won five of their last seven overall postseason series since 2009. They are 11-7 in 18 Division Series (1981, 1995-2007, 2009-12) and improved to 44-32 in ALDS games. The Yanks are 12-6 in postseason games at the current Yankee Stadium and 114-70 (.620) all time in postseason home games. They improved to 7-3 in postseason games against Baltimore and 3-2 in postseason home games vs. the Orioles (won 1996 ALCS 4-1, going 1-1 at the Stadium).
Yankees starting pitchers combined for a 2-1 record and 2.04 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings and holding opponents to a .193 batting average in 145 at-bats. Yankees pitchers have allowed three or fewer runs in each of their past seven postseason games (since 2011 ALDS Game 4), tied for the second-longest such streak in club history.
Yankees base runners matched their ALDS single game high with two steals (Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson), doing so for the sixth time in franchise history and first since Oct. 9, 2010 in Game 3 against the Twins.
CC Sabathia has a 9-4 record with a 4.25 ERA over 103 2/3 innings in 18 postseason games, all but one as a starter. With the Yankees, Sabathia is 7-1 with a 3.09 ERA over 78 2/3 innings in 13 games, all but one as a starter. He won both of his career postseason starts with his team facing elimination. He also won Game 5 of the 2010 ALCS against the Rangers when the Yanks trailed in games, 3-1. CC is the second Yankees starter to throw a complete game in the ALDS. The other was David Wells Oct. 4, 1997 in Game 3 at Cleveland. Sabathia’s 17 2/3 innings were the most for a Yankees pitcher in ALDS, surpassing the previous mark of 15 2/3 by David Cone in 1995 against the Mariners.
Derek Jeter was 0-for-3 in Game 5, which ended his streak of four multi-hit games to start this postseason. It matched the longest such streak in club history. The others occurred in World Series play, by Babe Ruth against the Cardinals in 1928, Lou Gehrig against the Cubs in 1932 and Moose Skowron against the Pirates in 1960. Jeter is a career .343 hitter in 268 ALDS at-bats.
Don Larsen and Yogi Berra will be reunited on the 56th anniversary of the only perfect game in World Series history at 1 p.m. Monday at the Yogi Berra Museum on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, N.J. The battery mates for that historic game will be present at the museum along with Brandon Steiner, chief executive officer of Steiner Sports; Andrew Levy, president of Wish You Were Here Productions and museum director Dave Kaplan.
The No, 18 uniform that Larsen wore in that milestone performances in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series will go up for auction. Steiner Sports Memorabilia, a leader in collectibles and a company which has sold innumerable sports artifacts, has been entrusted with the auction that will be held from Oct. 8 through December this year.
Recently, a jersey once worn by Babe Ruth was sold to a collector for a reported $4.4 million. Berra’s No. 8 jersey that he wore during Larsen’s perfecto reportedly sold for nearly $600,000 in 2010. It will not be a part of the auction but will be displayed at the press conference.
Just as he did five days earlier, Andy Pettitte pitched with a lot of runners on base Monday night at Minneapolis. And just as he did five days earlier, Pettitte made sure none of them scored.
It was another shutout effort for the lefthander after missing 11 weeks because of a fractured left fibula. Pettitte has put up a zero for each of those weeks – 11 scoreless innings in his two starts back. Buoyed by a 3-0, first-inning lead, Pettitte worked out of the jams he got himself into and notched another victory against the Twins, which is pretty common for him.
Things looked shaky in the first inning when Minnesota loaded the bases with one out, but Andy stunned Justin Morneau with a fastball on the outside corner for a called third strike and retired Ryan Doumit on a fielder’s choice. The Yankees supported Pettitte with two double plays to get out of innings, and his catcher, Russell Martin, made a sensational tag for an out at the plate after taking a strong throw from center fielder Curtis Granderson to end another inning.
Over six innings, Pettitte scattered seven hits and a walk and struck out three in improving his season record to 5-3 and earning his 245th career victory to tie Dennis Martinez for 49th place on the all-time list. He is undefeated over his last 12 starts against Minnesota (regular season and postseason combined) dating to May 2001 with a 10-0 record and a 2.53 ERS in 80 2/3 innings. Over his past 17 regular season and postseason starts against the Twins since 1999, Pettitte is 13-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 117 innings and has held them to three runs or fewer in 14 outings.
Now what is all this about Target Field being a tough place to hit home runs? Not for the Yanks. They pounded four of them, including three absolute moon shots, against Twins righthander Liam Hendricks and have clubbed 14 home runs in eight games at the Minneapolis yard that opened in 2010.
Nick Swisher got the home run derby going in the first inning with a two-run shot to right that measured 428 feet. Granderson went nearly 10 feet farther with his solo shot in the fourth that was his 40th home run of the season, one shy of his 2011 total. Granderson joined Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Jason Giambi as the only Yankees players to homer 40 times in consecutive seasons. It should be mentioned that the Babe did it eight times while the others did it once apiece.
Raul Ibanez continued his smoking hot streak with a drive into the second deck in right field leading off the seventh inning for his 18th home run. Eric Chavez homered to left (No. 14) two batters later. Ibanez has 7-for-12 (.583) with two doubles, three home runs and five RBI since breaking out of a 0-for-18 slump.
Ichiro Suzuki, last week’s American League Player of the Week, doubled his first time up, and Derek Jeter with a single in his final at-bat in the ninth inning extended his hitting streak to 18 games.
The Yankees also gained ground in the AL East standings over the Orioles, who divided a doubleheader against the Blue Jays at home. The Yankees’ lead is 1 ½ games (two in the loss column) as the magic number for clinching a postseason berth is down to four.
Old Timers’ Day never gets old, if you know what I mean. The Yankees were the first team to celebrate their history with an annual reunion that began in 1947 to honor Babe Ruth, and they are the last team to bring back stories players from their past every year on a scheduled date.
The Yankees’ great tradition lends itself perfectly to such an exercise. It seems as if everyone invited back had a part in producing one of the 27 World Series championships, some of them more than others but no one more so than Yogi Berra.
The practice of Old Timers’ Days with other clubs gained popularity in the 1960s, but by the 1990s nearly every team, including such other tradition-rich franchises as the Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals stopped doing them regularly. The Red Sox did a nice job of inviting back many of the players from their past to celebrate Fenway Park’s centennial back in April, but that was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. For the Yankees, it is an annual get together that is the result of the hard work of vice president for marketing Debbie Tymon and her staff.
Yogi was clearly the focus Sunday as the introductions wound down to those so close to him in his long connection with the team, such as old pal Whitey Ford; former American League president Bobby Brown, who roomed with Yogi during their years together as players in the late 1940s and early ‘50s, and Don Larsen, whom Berra navigated through a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, the only no-hitter in Series history.
Every Yankees era was represented: the 1950s with Berra, Ford, Brown, Larsen, Jerry Coleman and Bob Turley; the 1960s with Hector Lopez, Luis Arroyo, Bobby Richardson, Ralph Terry, Joe Pepitone, Al Downing, Jake Gibbs and Mel Stottlemyre; the 1970s with Reggie Jackson, Bucky Dent, Brian Doyle, Mickey Rivers, Ron Guidry, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Roy White and Ron Blomberg; the 1980s with Tommy John, Goose Gossage and Rickey Henderson; the 1990s with Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Cecil Fielder, Charlie Hayes, Darryl Strawberry, Jesse Barfield, Pat Kelly, Bernie Williams and Joe Torre.
It was the first invitation for Stump Merrill, who has served in numerous capacities for the organization the past 38 years, including manager in the lean times of 1990 and ’91. It was Stump who helped convert a Puerto Rican second baseman named Jorge Posada into an All-Star catcher.
“I can’t kick about waiting 38 years,” Stump said, laughing. “Last year, they invited Geno for the first time in 49 years!”
Long-time trainer Gene Monahan, who retired after the 2011 season, was also back at Yankee Stadium Sunday for the one day every year that could be renamed Good Times Day.