Results tagged ‘ Ernie Banks ’

Yanks need to get leads for bullpen trio

The Yankees will get some help Monday, although it will not be in an area of need. Aroldis Chapman, the flame-throwing relief pitcher, will come off his 30-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, but the back end of the bullpen is the least of the Yankees’ woes.

The Yankees already have plenty of strength there with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Chapman, acquired by trade in the off-season from the Reds, will give the Yankees the most formidable bullpen trio since Cincinnati’s legendary “Nasty Boys” — Randy Myers, Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton — for Lou Piniella’s 1990 World Series champions.

What remains at question is how often the Yankees can give these three relievers leads to protect. The bats went silent again Sunday night as they were tamed by knuckleballer Steven Wright, who came within one out of a shutout ruined by Brett Gardner’s third home run of the season. It was one of only three hits by the Yanks, whose hopes of sweeping the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium were dashed in Boston’s 5-1 victory.

Luis Severino’s record fell to 0-5, although manager Joe Girardi expressed encouragement that the second-year righthander is turning the corner. Severino was clocked for three home runs — two by David Ortiz — but he had nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. The Red Sox added a fourth home run in the eighth as Xander Bogaerts took Chasen Shreve deep. The way Wright pitched, Severino’s fate was sealed In the first inning when he walked leadoff batter Mookie Betts and gave up a home run to Dustin Pedroia in the first row of the right field stands.

Big Papi, on the other hand, launched a pair of bombs that were milestones in a career he plans to conclude at the end of this season, a decision that looks awfully premature considering the way he is swinging the bat. Ortiz pushed his career home run total to 512, passing Mel Ott on the career list and tying Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews, three Hall of Fame sluggers. Of that total, 454 have come with the Red Sox, the second most in club history behind only Ted Williams, whose career total of 521 were all hit for Boston.

Ortiz has just been taking batting practice against the Yankees this season. In six games against them, Big Papi is batting .364 with five home runs and seven RBI in 22 at-bats. The Stadium crowd let him have it with the boos for his embarrassing tirade against umpire Ron Kulpa Friday night, but he pretty much quieted everybody with the pair of massive shots off Severino.

The Yankees had one hit over the first six innings against Wright, 30, a journeyman who has restarted his career with the knuckleball. They did not have a runner in scoring position until the seventh when Starlin Castro led off with a double to right. He crossed to third on a flyout but was thrown out trying to get back to the bag after deciding against trying to score on a pitch in the dirt. Castro, who was picked off second base four games ago, hurt a rib on the play and was pinch-hit for in the ninth, but Girardi said he did not consider the injury serious and expected Castro to play Monday night when the World Series champion Royals open a four-game set at the Stadium.

Chapman will be there, too. Can the Yankees give him reason to get into the game. Yankees fans can only hope so.

Offense hits rock bottom in 1st shutout

Too bad the Yankees could not have saved some of those dozen runs they scored Saturday night for Sunday’s finale of the three-game series at Kansas City. The 12-1 victory Saturday night has been the odd offensive explosion on the trip for the Yankees, who have not scored more than two runs in any other game, and they did not score at all Sunday as they sustained their first shutout of the season.

Decked out in throwback Kansas City Monarchs uniforms in honor of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which is located in that city, the Royals dominated the day in which fans were encouraged to wear their Sunday best to Kauffman Stadium. Many folks in the crowd of 31,251 complied. And the Royals certainly dressed down the Yankees.

Players from both squads wore “28” patches to signify the number the late Hall of Famer, Ernie Banks, wore during his time with the Monarchs in the early 1950s before he integrated the Cubs as the first African-American player with that franchise in 1953. Banks, who wore No. 14 for the Cubs, popularized the phrase, “Let’s play two!” The Yankees, however, were in no mood for two games like the one they played Sunday.

Chris Capuano came off the disabled list and made his first start of the season after recovering from a spring-training quad injury. The lefthander did fine over the first three innings save for a home run by Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Everything fell apart for Capuano in the fourth. The four batters he faced reached base (two walks, two singles), and three of them subsequently scored.

The 4-0 lead that went to a 6-0 final seemed plenty secure in the right arm of Edinson Volquez, who won for the first time in five starts since April 20. He held the Yankees to three hits and no walks (he hit one batter) with five strikeouts in seven innings. Wade Davis and Jason Frasor provided a scoreless inning of relief apiece for the American League Central leaders.

Mark Teixeira, the player who was hit with a pitch in the fourth inning, stayed in the game until the seventh, has a bruise on his right large toe and is day-to-day. Tex leads the clubs in home runs (11) and RBI (28) and with his average up to .248 the Yankees do not want him out of the lineup for long.

The Yanks remained in first place in the AL East, but by merely one game over the Rays, 11-3 winners over the Twins. Tampa Bay took three of four games from the Yanks in the first stop of this trip which continues with a two-game, inter-league series in Washington, D.C., Tuesday and Wednesday nights against the Nationals, who trail the Mets by one game in the National League East.

The Yankees have an open date Monday, their first day off since April 30, and they could definitely use it.

Yankees Magazine celebrates Jeter’s career

Thursday night marked the beginning of Derek Jeter’s last homestand as his appearance at Yankee Stadium has been reduced to eight games — four against the Blue Jays through Sunday and four against the Orioles next week.

Fans attending any of these games should purchase a copy of the Derek Jeter Commemorative Edition of Yankees Magazine, a 128-page look at the various aspects of this remarkable 20-year career in the major leagues of a player who now holds some of the most important records in franchise history, including most games and most hits.

The Yankees Magazine staff outdid itself with this issue. Nathan Maciborski starts things off with a review of the Captain’s career, and the YES Network’s Jack Curry ends it with an appreciation of Jeter’s impact throughout the world. In between there are comments from Hall of Famers in all sports and Yankees teammates and executives about Jeter.

Jon Schwartz wrote a fine profile of Dick Groch, the scout who signed Jeter. There is a special centerfold highlighting the important hits of Jeter’s career, edited by Kristina Dodge. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News contributed a story about Jeter’s memories of Fenway Park, hostile territory where DJ had some of his biggest moments.

Alfred Santasiere III had a sit-down with Jeet and “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks, and conducted question-and-answer sessions with two other Hall of Fame shortstops, Cal Ripken Jr. and Ozzie Smith. Also featured is Santasiere’s article from three years ago about Jeter’s return to his hometown of Kalamazoo, Mich.

Santasiere also did an exclusive interview with Derek’s parents, Charles and Dorothy Jeter, who comment separately about the special incidents in their son’s life and career.

And then there are the pictures — hundreds of them from staff photographers Ariele Goldman Hecht and Matt Ziegler, plus an array of photos from Derek Jeter Day Sept. 7 from contributing photographer Tom DiPace.

There are plenty of memories Yankees fans can take away from Derek Jeter’s career. Many of them are encased in this issue, which will be available at Stadium souvenir shops throughout the homestand.

September is Derek Jeter Month at Stadium

The Yankees will celebrate the career of Derek Jeter during the month of September. Named the 11th captain in team history on June 3, 2003, Jeter is the Yankees’ all-time leader in hits (3,445), games (2,723), stolen bases (357), at-bats (11,108), singles (2,581), doubles (539) and hit by pitches (168). He ranks sixth on Major League Baseball’s all-time hits list and has the most hits of any shortstop in the game’s history.

Derek Jeter Day will be Sunday, Sept. 7 at Yankee Stadium. Prior to the scheduled 1:05 p.m. game against the Royals, former teammates, family members and other guests are expected to take part in a special ceremony highlighting Jeter’s career. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by noon.

As part of the day’s celebration, the Yankees will wear a patch depicting Jeter’s final season logo on the left sleeve of their uniform and cap. The patch will be worn by the team from Sept. 7 through the end of the 2014 season.

New Era recently introduced a limited-edition Derek Jeter Collectible Cap Set. The collection includes three hats that celebrate Jeter’s five World Championships, his 3,000 hits milestone and his upcoming retirement. Only 2,014 units have been created and are currently being sold exclusively at Stadium team stores while supplies last.

Beginning Thursday, Sept. 18, Yankees fans will also have the opportunity to purchase a limited-edition Derek Jeter commemorative issue of Yankees Magazine, the team’s official game-day program. The special issue will provide an exclusive look back at Jeter’s career in pinstripes, from his first mention in the publication in 1992 through coverage of the Sept. 7 ceremony.

Among highlights to be featured include a complete retrospective of Jeter’s 20-year career, a Q&A with Jeter and Ernie Banks, his parents’ recollection of his development from young Yankees fan to the franchise’s 11th captain, and a four-panel centerpiece featuring a graphical retelling of Jeter’s career highlights.

The limited-edition commemorative publication will be available for purchase at Yankee Stadium, by calling 800-GO-YANKS [800-469-2657] or by visiting

As part of a special pregame tribute video to be shown at the Stadium prior to Jeter’s final regular season home game Thursday, Sept. 25, a Yankees film crew will be taking to the streets of New York to gather personal tributes and thank you’s from Yankees fans.

The Yankees are also conducting a “One Word for 2” social media campaign throughout September on the team’s official Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Each day during the month, players and fans will be featured on each respective platform providing one word that they feel best describes Jeter along with their reasons for choosing it. Fans can tweet @Yankees or visit and to participate.

Tickets for remaining 2014 Yankees home games may be purchased online at,, at the Stadium ticket office, via Ticketmaster phone at 877-469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at 800-943-4327 and at all ticket offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Tickets may also be purchased on Yankees Ticket Exchange at, the only official online resale marketplace for Yankees fans to purchase and resell tickets to Yankees games. Fans with questions may call 212-YANKEES [926-5337] or email

Shortstop = Derek Jeter

Some years ago I got into a chat with Derek Jeter about playing shortstop. I mentioned to him that in doing some research for a story I was doing on Luis Aparicio, the Hall of Famer, I discovered that he only played shortstop in the major leagues. All 2,583 games of “Little Looie’s” career were at that position, which I thought was pretty interesting.

So did Jeter. We had been talking around the time Cal Ripken Jr. had moved from shortstop to third base about 15 years ago. We talked about how injuries forced players such as Ernie Banks and Robin Yount, two other Hall of Famers, to move off shortstop, to first base and center field, respectively.

“I’d like to try to play every game I’m in the field at shortstop,” DJ said. “It’s really the only position I know. If I’m good enough, I can do it.”

Luis Aparicio at Yankee Stadium, c. 1959

It is fair to say that Jeter has been good enough. He was in the lineup as the designated hitter Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Barring his going into the field later in the game, DJ will have to wait until Friday night to match what Aparicio did. It would be Jeter’s 2,583rd game at shortstop, which would tie Aparicio for second on the all-time list of games played at that position. It will be an appropriate place to do it considering that Aparicio played for the White Sox in 10 of his 18 major-league seasons. He also spent five years with the Orioles and three with the Red Sox.

And just like Aparicio, Jeter has played only shortstop whenever he has been on the field. Jeter has been a designated hitter in 58 games but has played no other position in the field. The DH rule went into effect in 1973, which was Aparicio’s last season in the majors, but he was never a DH that year.

The record for career games at shortstop is held by Omar Vizquel with 2,709. He played several other positions, however, in his major-league total of 2,940. Vizquel played in 150 games at third base, 76 at second base, three at first base, one in left field and one in right field.

Since this is Jeter’s final season in the majors, he cannot catch Vizquel. The Captain is 127 games behind Vizquel. The Yankees have 116 games remaining in the season. But Jeter will end up with the distinction that for 40 years belonged to Luis Aparicio as the career shortstop.

Price is right for Jeter at 2,999

Derek Jeter moved within one of the 3,000-hit plateau with a leadoff single in the first inning Saturday in an impressive, eight-pitch at-bat against Rays lefthander David Price. Jeter worked the count full against the overpowering Price and had the fans standing in anticipation after he fouled off two 95-mph fastballs. Price came back with another 95-mph heater but got too much of the plate. Jeter hit a hard bouncer between third base and shortstop for career hit No. 2,999.

It is a sun-kissed afternoon at Yankee Stadium, the sort of day that used to make Hall of Famer Ernie Banks suggest, “Let’s play two!”

Uh, maybe we don’t want to get into that. The Yankees wanted to make up for Friday night’s rainout by scheduling a dual-admission doubleheader Saturday, but the Rays voted it down. That left two games remaining on the homestand for Jeter to get the two hits he needs for 3,000. Make that one now.

Is Munson Hall-worthy?

On the 31st anniversary of Thurman Munson’s death in a small plane crash, discussion among Yankees fans often centers on why he is not in the Hall of Fame. The answer is simple. He was not elected. The question is: Why?

Munson is one of the strangest cases in Hall of Fame voting, which is conducted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America of members with 10 or more consecutive years of coverage. On the face of it, his credentials are impressive. The hard-nosed catcher earned Rookie of the Year (1970) and Most Valuable Player (1976) honors from the BBWAA, drove in 100 or more runs three times, batted .300 five times, won three Gold Gloves, was named to seven All-Star teams and was one of the centerpieces of Yankees teams that won two World Series.

So what went wrong come election time? For one thing, his career was short. Munson played in 11 seasons and hit .292 with 113 home runs. Hall of Fame voters tend to lose for comparisons when voting. There was one obvious comparison for Munson, and that was Roy Campanella, the Brooklyn Dodgers catcher of the 1950s whose career was also shortened (to 10 years) because of a tragic auto accident that paralyzed him.

In his decade in the majors, Campy batted .276 with 242 home runs, played on five World Series teams (winning only once, in 1955), drove in more than 100 runs three times, hit .300 three times, was named to eight All-Star teams and was the National League MVP three times. The Gold Glove was not established until 1957, his last season, but he was acknowledged as one of the game’s best receivers and handlers of pitchers. The writers elected him to the Hall of Fame in 1969 in his fifth year of eligibility.

There does not seem to be much difference, does there? Well, there was one major difference between the two, and that was the matter of personality. Munson was popular with many of his teammates, from Bobby Murcer to Lou Piniella to Jim “Catfish” Hunter to Goose Gossage and beyond, but he was not as well liked by writers for the most part.

Munson had a prickly relationship with the press. He was gruff and impatient. Campanella, on the other hand, was one of the nicest human beings to grace a major-league clubhouse. Extremely popular with teammates and the press alike, Campy’s departure from the game left a definite void, and writers felt he was deserving of Hall recognition eventually.

Should how a player treats the press matter in Hall voting? No, and in most cases it doesn’t. Truth be told, Mickey Mantle wasn’t very sweet with writers during his career. Neither were Willie Mays or Hank Aaron or Warren Spahn or Frank Robinson. And BBWAA members could write encyclopedias about how nasty Eddie Murray was to them. Not everybody in baseball is Yogi Berra or Stan Musial or Ernie Banks. Yet the malicious ones were voted into the Hall by writers anyway, so it is not about that.

What did hurt Munson was that perhaps due to his standoffishness with the press he had no one or previous few championing his case other than Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, whose opinion was prejudiced to say the least. The Boss felt his players should have won every award for which they were candidates and berated voters if it didn’t happen, so his campaigning carried no weight.

Munson’s best vote total was his first year on the ballot, in 1981, when he received 62 votes for 15 percent. He never got more than 10 percent of the vote after that. Munson remained on the ballot the full 15 years, which is amazing considering that he annually gathered only 30 to 40 votes.

My own view is that Munson’s chance to make the Hall was hurt by his going on the ballot immediately. The five-year waiting rule that went into effect in the mid-1950s is waved in the case of players who die. When Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972, there was a movement by writers to override the five-year wait and vote him in. A special election was held during spring training in 1973 and Clemente received 93 percent of the vote.

Clemente was a fairly obvious Hall of Fame choice, however, with 3,000 hits, an MVP Award, a World Series MVP and a dozen Gold Gloves, even though his relationship with the press was along the lines of Munson’s.

The five-year waiting period is a good rule. It allows perspective to become part of the equation in evaluating a player’s career. Campanella had to wait five years because he did not die. Munson went on the ballot too soon for his supporters’ good. Had writers been able to step back for five years and then look at his career, I feel that his chances would have been better.

Now Munson’s case falls to the Veterans Committee. As chairman of the BBWAA’s Historical Overview Committee which forms the Veterans Committee ballots, I can tell you that Munson get his day in court and just may make it one of these years.

Long stay at shortstop

Derek Jeter turned 36 Saturday. That may not be an age that is considered a milestone, but I have always thought it was. After all, once you’re 36 for the first time in your life you’re closer to 50 than 20. You may not be starting the back nine of your life, but the halfway house is clearly in view.

As for a professional athlete, 36 is definitely on the back nine, unless you know anyone playing in the pros in his or her 70s, excluding Minnie Minoso, of course. Yet in this day and age of dedication to conditioning and nutrition, the pro athlete can endure far long than his antecedents, and there are few in baseball in better shape than Derek Jeter.

It is hard to think of him as getting old. Other than natural maturity, I have not seen any great change in his approach or demeanor from the 21-year-old kid who came to the Yankees’ spring training camp at Tampa, Fla., in 1996 ready to assume the role of shortstop.

The plan was for regular Tony Fernandez to move to second base and be ready to switch back if Jeter did not handle the job. Fernandez got hurt and was out for the year while Jeter went on to win Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year honors and help the Yankees win their first World Series championship in 18 years.

Long ago and far away, sure, but all these years later Jeter is still a main cog on the Yankees at one of the sport’s most demanding positions. And he is in no mood to think about playing someplace else, not in a different city and not at a different position.

Yet Jeter has reached that age which historically players at his position often move to another position. No better example exists than Cal Ripken Jr., a player Jeter admires and emulates, who was shifted to third base in 1997, the year he turned 36. He played only three games at shortstop after turning 36, not counting the 2001 All-Star Game.

Two other Hall of Famers, Ernie Banks and Robin Yount, were moved from shortstop in their early 30s due to arm injuries that hampered their effectiveness in the middle infield. Banks went to first base, and Yount to center field.

A couple of years ago, I sat down with Jeter and talked to him about the Yount move. This was a time when Bernie Williams’ career was winding down, and I queried whether he had given any thought to playing center field in the future.

Not a word, just a blank stare from those piercing green eyes. “I just thought maybe we’d talk about it,” I said.

He grinned and said, “Then I guess you’ll have to find someone else to talk to about that.”

Needless to say, I never brought the subject up again, and I am not going to do so here, either. I have been of the opinion since that day that shortstop is where Derek Jeter belongs for as long as he wants to play it. If he was not coming off shortstop for Alex Rodriguez, he wasn’t coming off shortstop for Jack O’Connell.

And why should he? It is not as if he is Phil Rizzuto, who hit .195 at age 36 and was a part-time player the next year and a half. Or Pee Wee Reese, who won a World Series with the Dodgers at that age in 1955 but was moved to third base two years later. Or Joe Cronin, who played very little shortstop after the age of 35. Or such Hall of Famers as Joe Tinker, Travis Jackson, Arky Vaughan and Lou Boudreau, who were retired as players before they turned 36.

Further research shows plenty of evidence that moving off shortstop is not all that warranted. Hall of Famers Honus Wagner and Luke Appling played more than 130 games at shortstop when each was 41. Rabbit Maranville, another Hall of Famer, finished 10th in the National League MVP race when he was 36 in 1928. Dave Concepcion was the Reds’ regular shortstop until he was 38, and as late as the age of 40 Omar Vizquel played 143 games at shortstop.

There are two shortstops that really stick out to me and with whom I hope Jeter will keep company – Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Smith. They share an amazing distinction. Shortstop was the only position they played in their entire careers – 2,518 games for Little Looie and 2,511 games for the Wizard of Oz. Each made the All-Star team playing shortstop at age 36, which Jeter will do next month.

Aparicio’s last year was 1973, the first year of the designated hitter but he was never used in that spot, and Smith spent his whole career in the DH-less National League. Jeter has been a DH in 17 games, but the only position he has played in the field is shortstop. He celebrated his 36th birthday with game No. 2,193 – and counting.